The door creaked as I slowly pushed it inwards. A cold air touched my face, and I took in a deep breath. The room smelled of old pine with a sweet smell of flowers. My girlfriends and I had been traveling through Tuscany, and we stopped for the night in beautiful San Gimignano, Italy. We had found the perfect Airbnb complete with a magical view and newly renovated. Yes, it was magical. Stepping out of our door, we watched the sunset over the hills of Tuscany and the lights begin to flicker in the town of San Gimignano.HINGS TO RESEARCH BEFORE YOU BOOK THAT AIRBNB

How did I find this magical place? Well, I have to tell you. They are out there, and we found this place for an amazing price. I have been traveling with Airbnb for many years, staying for days, weeks or months with hosts from all over the world. I haven’t had a negative experience yet. This has come from hard core research on my part. Now, I am going to spill all my secrets, and I hope you will take advantage of this experience.

You found that magical Airbnb, but you’re still unsure if it’s as amazing as they say. Through my experience, I have found Airbnb to be a very creditable website, so the perks start there. Take these things into account before you book.

1 // Take Instant Book with a Grain of Salt

Sweet! You found this fantastic place, and you only have to click one button to grab the deal. Put the brakes on yo! Just because the place is an instant book, doesn’t mean it’s a great deal. Things to look for: great reviews and a little pink/yellow badge that says ‘super host.’

2 // Google Map the Place

Airbnb provides this lovely map that doesn’t always accurately point you in the right destination. Best way to go, contact the host and ask them for generic directions to major tourist attractions from their place. What is the public transportation line closest to their house? How long does it take to get to the city center? These answers might be in the reviews, but if the host is willing to interact with you that will give you an indication of their personality and character.

3 // Contact the Host BEFORE You Book

Back to getting to know the person, send the host a quick, short email introducing yourself. Ask them a few questions about the area, and let them know you are excited about visiting. Their answer will give you an insight into your future stay.

4 // View the Host’s Profile

Just like yours, your host’s profile should be complete. It should have a nice bio, a clean picture and be verified by Airbnb with an email address, phone number and at least one social account. These are all important to make sure your hosts are really lovely people.

I’ve had fantastic experiences through Airbnb. I stayed with an amazing couple in Wellington, New Zealand, and they shared their pizza with me on Friday nights. In Berlin, I chit chatted in German with my host about New Zealand and watched her dance to 1980s music. Those memories are precious.

Ready to take the Airbnb plunge? I have a fantastic deal for you. I’m giving you $35 to apply to your first Airbnb experience. [That’s equivalent to ONE FREE NIGHT in some cities!!] I love it that much! I want you to experience it also. Sign up, claim your credit and stay in that fantastic place.