2. HAVE A LOCKED SPACE, and PHOTOGRAPH YOUR HOME. How big this space is will be dependent on what you need to store. We don’t have many valuables so we have a very small locked area for paperwork (tax docs, etc.), and we take my violin over to a trusted neighbor’s house. If you have more valuables, you may want to consider locking a closet or perhaps even a whole room if you’re really concerned. Regardless, having that separate space, no matter how small, will give you peace of mind.
Also, Airbnb has a $1 million host guarantee. We’ve found for the slight issues we have that didn’t involve actual stuff being damaged (e.g., someone left a pack of cigarettes and smoked outside our house, despite our very clear no-smoking rules – details below), Airbnb was pretty much useless. However, another time when a minor cord was damaged, we had no issues submitting a claim and they took care of everything very promptly.
Because of this, we feel comfortable leaving out things like our TV/DVD player, desktop computer, etc. We don’t have anything fancy or brand new when it comes to those items, so we wouldn’t be heartbroken if they had to be replaced, and we’d trust Airbnb to take care of it.
We do take pictures of our home before leaving, so it’s clear what belongings were there and what condition they were in. We’ve NEVER needed to use those, but it’s nice for peace of mind should anything ever come up.
3. PACK UP SPECIAL ITEMS, BUT NOT YOUR WHOLE HOUSE. Items don’t have to be expensive to be special. We have a couple of plastic bins in which our kids can put any special stuffed animals, LEGO creations, or play jewelry. It helps them feel better knowing another kid won’t accidentally break something that’s important to them.
That said, you do NOT have to pack away your entire house. For the most part, we leave our clothes in closets and drawers. We sometimes clear out some space for guests, but not a ton, and not always, and no one has ever complained. When we were gone for a long time, we had a bathroom cabinet labeled for guests, but on normal, short trips, we don’t bother.
And figure out what is actually special or valuable to you – will you be devastated if an heirloom sofa gets a stain on it? Or are you willing to trust the host guarantee with your $150 Walmart couch? We figure, people aren’t going to care one whit about my $10 Target t-shirt or basic sewing machine or whatnot. We leave the kids’ craft supplies in that area of the playroom, and just ask guests to replenish anything they’ve used heavily (but are fine with them using things sparingly).
10. MAKE IT SIMPLE. Keep check in simple with an electronic door lock with a pass code (or just a lockbox with a key). Spell everything out in the house manual – even the simplest of things. If they need airbeds, set them out in the room so they don’t have to search through closets. As much as possible, keep everything as simple, straightforward, and streamlined as possible.
One final note – be sure to check the rules and regulations in your city/state, as some don’t actually allow you to rent out your home. Make sure you’re familiar with what is legal in your area!