How Far In Advance You Should Book An Airbnb For The Best Deals

Maybe you're heading to Seattle, Washington, for Emerald City Comic Con and need to find a room near the convention center. Maybe you and your sweetheart are hoping for a private cabin in a charming Florida lake town. Maybe you and your friends finally picked a weekend for that beach vacation in Mexico you've been talking about for ages. Whatever your plans, how far in advance should you book the Airbnb?


Whether or not an Airbnb is actually a cheaper alternative to hotels anymore is debatable — but it can still be the best option. If you're looking to book a large space for a lot of guests, be able to cook on your vacation, or stay somewhere really unusual like a lighthouse in Alaska or a treehouse in Hawaii, an Airbnb may be ideal. Some people will tell you to reserve your stay way in advance so that you can be 100% sure that your booking is secured, while others will say that you should wait until the last minute to haggle for a cheaper price. While either of those strategies might work, the best price is probably waiting somewhere in the middle.

Make your booking one month in advance

The cheapest price available may vary from listing to listing, but according to research done by Nerdwallet, you should usually avoid extremes. While booking way in advance might make securing your stay and coordinating with your traveling companions easier, booking your Airbnb months and months in advance probably won't get you the best price. Similarly, there are potential advantages to booking your place at the last minute since you have a little wiggle room to negotiate, but in general, prices go up as the check-in date gets closer.


So what's the absolute best time to book? Probably about four weeks before your trip. On average, those who booked a year in advance spent about $30 more than those who waited until a month before their trip, and people who booked at the last minute spent about $50 more than people who were able to book a month in advance. While those savings are unlikely to make a huge difference, who wouldn't like an extra $50 in their budget?

Book further in advance for peak times

It's no secret that a lot of Airbnb hosts change the price of their listings depending on how popular the dates are for their property. If you own a beautiful beach house, you're probably going to increase prices on July weekends. If you own a property near the ski slopes, January is probably your most profitable time. As one Airbnb host wrote on Reddit, "The idea is to maximize income from peak season, and to price low enough during the slow season that I am still able to attract some guests instead of none."


If you have your heart set on a particular place on a particular date, you may have to book further in advance, even if it costs a bit more. Sometimes, booking far in advance can work out in your favor for new listings, however. In situations where you have to book your stay months and months early, you can still get a good deal for a peak time if you shop around. For example, maybe consider booking a new Airbnb with no reviews, which others may avoid. As long as you're positive that it isn't a scam (check Airbnb photos to make sure they're not fake), you might be able to get a good deal from a host looking to boost their new place's visibility with some good reviews.

Keep an eye on favorite listings

The vast majority of Airbnb hosts use something called dynamic pricing, which means that they adjust their prices to reflect demand. If you have a place you want to stay in the future, you should keep an eye on it and see when the price fluctuates. Obviously, that allows you to book when the best deal pops up, but it also gives you an idea about the property's general trends. Is it cheaper in the winter than in the summer? Then you may want to schedule that family reunion for February next year.


It can also be useful to know which Airbnbs don't change in price. These are known as listings with a static price and can be great choices for when you have to book right before you need to check in. If you know for a fact that there's a two-bedroom apartment with a view of the Strip that costs the same no matter when you're booking, you should definitely remember it when you and your friends book a last-minute flight to Las Vegas.

Book in advance for events

Airbnb hosts are often aware of events in their area that will draw crowds and will increase prices to reflect that demand. If you happen to know of a major event coming up and find a place to stay nearby that is reasonably priced, you should book it right away, even if it's further in advance than you would usually reserve a stay. Even if your particular host is not tapped into the local scene and doesn't realize that they could be increasing their prices, their competitors may, which is sure to tip them off.


It's also worth noting that some unscrupulous hosts may try to change the price after you've booked if they realize that they could get more for their listing from someone else, as happened to one Reddit user who booked in advance for a music festival. If this happens to you, do not accept the price change or cancel the listing yourself. Ask the host to cancel the listing on their end and contact Airbnb.

Negotiate at the last minute

Booking at the last minute is, in general, the most expensive way to reserve an Airbnb, especially during peak seasons and around events. But if you have to secure a place to stay as soon as possible, you may be able to turn a bad situation to your advantage. Just make sure that your host allows same-day bookings and always contact them to confirm if you're hoping to check in immediately.


Some hosts specifically set their listings to be cheaper for people booking at the last minute. This can be a good strategy since they are running out of time to book the place, and if they don't attract a guest with a lower price soon, the place will remain empty. Some travelers take this into account to haggle with potential hosts by contacting them and offering them a lower price. 

Not all hosts will accept your offer, but it's definitely worth a shot. Some even contact hosts outside the platform to try to gain the most budget-friendly price off Airbnb to skip the fees. However, this can be very risky if the host is dishonest with you, as Airbnb will not assist you in securing a refund if the place isn't what you expected when you arrive.