As more and more people are struck with wanderlust, the options for accommodations have grown tremendously. What used to be a choice between five star hotels or underground hostels, travelers now have the option to stay in a cabin made of ice, a tree house, or even a celebrity’s yacht…if that floats your boat (not sorry).
Airbnb has revolutionized the idea that people shouldn’t just stay somewhere, they should get to live there, at least for the weekend. However, the freedom of AirBnB opens doors to new risks. While Airbnb ensures that all hosts verify their IDs by connecting to their social networks, scanning their official IDs and confirming personal details, follows these tips for a safe trip without compromising the excitement of a new adventure.
Based on other guests’ reviews, future Airbnb users can get a good idea of what to expect at their accommodations. Book a place that has a vast number of reviews and be sure to check the positive ones along with the negative.
While some complaints can be overlooked, such as no shampoo in the shower, other complaints, like non-locking doors to personal rooms, should be a warning sign to move on. Make sure the host’s amenities match your needs (private room versus entire home) and read through their cancellation policy upfront. This will prevent some sticky situations later on if plans change.
The chat feature is the best way to get to know your host. Whether you’re staying for a long weekend or a few months, inquire about your host’s property, their locale, and suggestions for nearby activities as. Even better, communicate with former guests and ask what they enjoyed best about this accommodation and what they would have liked to see differently.
One insider travel tip I’ve heard, is to Google the location of all the Wal-Marts and Whole Foods in a new city and book a spot that’s closer to the over-priced asparagus water. Locations near big grocers and retailers tends to be located towards tourist sites and safer areas. Use the method that works best for you.
As with all excursions, make sure family and friends know where you are and where you’re headed next. Forward a trusted person the confirmation emails of your Airbnb reservations (your mom will appreciate it), along with planned activities for each day. Although it may be obnoxious at the time, it’s always a good idea to have a safety net in place.
While it’s not necessary to print out confirmations, it might be helpful to take screen grabs on your phone or laptop to reference for any hosts that may be confused about your reservation. If you don’t have wifi or cell service is limited, this could be a lifesaver!
It probably is. No reviews, stock photos and a common owner for multiple posts can be signs of a fraud account. If you’re really unsure, and something about the photos feels phony, do a reverse Google Image search.
If a deal seems too cheap for a certain location and style home, double check that the place really exists. Either contact the host directly and ask clarifying questions (Why hasn’t anyone stayed here before?) or go utilize the Airbnb help feature for some customer care.
Just as you expect the host to have an established profile, enhance yours with a picture of yourself and a clear description of your interests.
This helps hosts know your priorities (relaxing beach gal versus extreme sports enthusiast) and they can be upfront about whether their place suits your traveling style.
The mission of Airbnb is to connect people through the means of travel at all price points. While it physically offers a convenient place to hold up for the night, it simultaneously opens doors to new cultures and ways of life that aren’t readily available behind structured hotel walls.
While you should follow your gut on whether a new place is the right fit for you, don’t limit yourself to places, languages, and ideas simply because they are unfamiliar. You may have an opportunity to get a spot near a cultural icon or near a bustling market, and while it may feel out of your comfort zone, that’s okay. In fact, that’s the point!
While an apartment overlooking Millennium Park in Chicago had the best view, my favorite Airbnb locale was a condo above the busy streets of Barcelona. I loved working on my Spanish with the next door neighbors and learning more about where to find the best churros.