While the appeal of buffet breakfasts and endless amenities make staying at a hotel oh-so-appealing, sometimes the price doesn’t suit your budget. Luckily, there’s Airbnb, a fun way to find international accommodation to suit your price range and requirements.

But Airbnb isn’t always easy – you can search your dates and location, and loads of options come up… other times, nothing is available. But to really find what you’re looking for, there are a few things to keep in mind:

When searching, don’t settle. Put in your price range and select a space type you’ll be comfortable with. An entire home, for example, can also mean a very small studio. But if you’re not happy paying for a room in someone else’s house and sharing a bathroom with them too, then it’s definitely worth considering your own space.

Read the reviews. (Really.)

Next, you need to decide on the filters. These are what I call must-haves. Do you smoke? Are you travelling with your pet? What if you book a room on the 10th floor and there’s no elevator in the building? Do you need good WiFi or a desk? Here’s where you check off your needs.

If you’re nervous, I would suggest ticking the Superhost box. This way all the rental options that come up are with hosts who are known to be helpful, accommodating and communicative. If you’ve got questions, it’s nice to know that someone on the other end will actually reply.

This is especially important if you’re sending a booking request. On Airbnb, there are two main ways to pick a place: Instant Book, where listings don’t require approval from the host before they can be booked, and booking requests, where you send the host a message and they have 24 hours to get back to you. Both have pros and cons.

With a booking request, the host can say no. (I once had a situation where the host said no to my request, and then tried to up the daily rate by three, hoping I would say yes.)

Always make sure you’ve checked the cancellation policy before you book. If you accidentally make an Instant Booking and the host has chosen a strict cancellation policy, you can’t just hit cancel, choose another place and get your money back. You will have to contact the host and ask them to cancel, and they may say no if it means they’re going to get penalised.

Keep in mind it’s not a hotel; Airbnb is a person renting out their home (or a room in their home), so be friendly, ask questions – as a renter, you’re also going to get reviewed! Which brings up my final point: don’t be afraid to contact Airbnb customer service. They’ll always be able to help, even if it means contacting an uncontactable host on your behalf.