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With the rise of technology, even we traditional Southerners must adopt a brand new etiquette protocol. And situations that are tricky to begin with – like traveling – are becoming even more complicated. We no longer need to know only how to gracefully check into hotels or tip a bellboy (which is a lesson in itself). We also need to know how to function in a world of cozy, casual, and cost-efficient room sharing services, like Airbnb. Southern Living has teamed up with etiquette expert Erika Preval, founder of Charm Etiquette in Atlanta, to help navigate these new waters.

Q: We usually stay in hotels when traveling, but have booked our first stay using Airbnb and want to be sure that everything goes well. Communications with our host have been so warm and helpful that I'm starting to wonder if we should bring a hostess gift or if there are other things to be aware of. What's the etiquette for Airbnb?

A: Airbnb has definitely changed the way a lot of people travel by allowing the intimacy of staying within a home in lieu of a hotel. A good guest is always considerate of their host. You're paying guests during your Airbnb stay, however, which can make some things confusing. These tips should clear up the basics.

Before Arrival: Communication with your host is important from time of booking throughout your stay (keep an eye on your email). Top priority is confirming your arrival time and adhering to it. Unlike a hotel, there is no front desk that is attended at all times. Notify your host immediately if you're running late, with an apology. This bit of consideration will allow them to adjust their plans accordingly, as they may be taking a break from work in order to bring keys and get you settled in.

During Your Stay: This experience is different from a hotel; don't anticipate daily turndown service. Keep your surroundings clean – especially in designated common areas. Also, keep an eye out for a manual or framed document sharing the Wi-Fi password, local restaurant suggestions and house rules that might include designated quiet times and whether food in the fridge is yours for the taking. If you run into any difficulties, relay those to your host. Their goal is to ensure you're comfortable during your stay, so allow the opportunity to accommodate your requests.

Upon Departure: The Girl Scouts camping rule of leaving things better than you found them works particularly well here. Refer back to the house instructions for guidance on where to place linens, taking out trash, where to leave the keys at the end of your stay. You never know if another guest is coming hours beyond your departure time. Should your plans change, be sure to notify your host and remember that you're being rated as a guest, as well.

Gifts for the host aren't necessary. However, if you've built a rapport, a small token of appreciation and/or thank you note will be well received. Your kind review via Airbnb means a lot to your host, and will help other guests choose their location in the future.

Enjoy your stay,


About Erika: Erika Preval hosts events in modern etiquette and lifestyle, for youth and adults, as founder of Charm Etiquette. For more of Erika's etiquette advice, connect with her here on Southern Living, like Charm Etiquette on Facebook and follow her on Instagram.

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