A couple years ago, I learned about AirBnb from an article I read on a travel site. I was intrigued because my family of 5 was about to embark on a trip to Europe. If you know anything about hotels, they won’t allow a family of 5 into one room, so we always have to get two. Two rooms in London and Paris are astronomical price-wise. I believe we were quoted $3k for each location. Yes, for the cost of a used car for your teen driver, you can have two rooms in London and two rooms in Paris for a total of ten days. And I’m not talking the Four Seasons, I’m talking about something equivalent to the Comfort Inn (no offense, Comfort Inn, I’ve stayed with you many times).
Instead of renting two hotel rooms in London and Paris, I opted to take a risk on AirBnb homes. In hindsight, it doesn’t seem like a great idea but when I was planning the trip, it seemed like a great idea! Besides, one of the rentals bragged that its kitchen remodel had been in a magazine.
Fortunately, the two houses we rented were exactly what they said they were. The townhome in Greenwich was so cute, and with three stories, it allowed each of us ample room to escape each other. The Paris apartment was so Parisian that we had various cheeses, bread, and wine for dinner one night.
So, thinking that this kind of luck would extend to North America was naive on my part. My first foray into the US was in Devon, PA, and although the apartment was so adorable, it wasn’t in a quiet neighborhood as advertised. It was on a very busy road. Every morning, the commuters lined up at the stop sign, and honked at each other. Needless to say, I never got to sleep much past 8 a.m. (5 a.m. for me).
And I didn’t learn my lesson a second time when I booked another home in Devon where it was on a very, VERY busy road–like, an exit off the freeway kind of busy.
The thing is, I asked these homeowners if their homes were in a quiet neighborhood. They all answered with enthusiasm that it really was, and I believed them. Sigh. Americans seem to value the almighty dollar more than their integrity.
The biggest sham was our trip to Vancouver, Canada but I won’t go into that here. It’s the combination of many trips that I have come up with the Top 5 Things You Must Know Before Booking an AirBnb.
In no particular order, here they are:
1.) Check what the host’s rules are about refunding money for canceling. Some are ‘strict’ which means that no matter what, they’re not going to give you your money back if you cancel. Flexible means that they might be able to give you your money back if you cancel within a certain period of time.
2.) Buy travel insurance
3.) Look at the approximate location on the map. Some states have the address listed while others do not.
4.) Really read the feedback given by the renters.
8 thoughts on “Never AirBnb’d Before? 8 Things You Must Know Before You Book”
I wrote the original post that you refer to–and agree -100%. The art of AirBnB is reading between the lines. Always. The reviews are IMPORTANT. Read every one.
Also, be obnoxious and ask too many questions. Overall, our experiences have been excellent.
Yes, I think many people do not read every last review but there are nuggets in there.
For example, on my current AirBnb, I noticed that one of the reviewers wasn’t too kind about the cleanliness of the home. Even though many years have passed since that review, this home was definitely not cleaned by any professional cleaner — I’m somewhat certain the owner is cleaning it himself but charging an exorbitant cleaning fee. I would complain except we’ve stayed in his home for three months so I am grateful to him for allowing us to use his home for so long.
But, the point is that even though nobody else has complained about the lack of cleanliness, the owner’s inability to clean is still shining through.
Your post was what got me curious and started with AirBnb and I’ve learned a lot since then!!
This is also why I try to write longer reviews. I have never had a “bad” experience with an AirBnB place, but my reviews are very “realistic” and detailed. It always helps to say things like “great location in the middle of the city–walk downstairs and grab a drink. BUT if you would rather hit the sack early, this might not be the place for you.”
I strongly encourage everyone to write substantive reviews!
We have had a very bad experience in Vancouver and did not leave a review because both the current owner and the ex-husband are lawyers. We walked away from the whole thing; however, that means that the lady will continue her AirBnb business as before. To be fair, I’m sure the conditions for the rental will not be the same as when we were there. Her integrity may continue to be a problem, though.
🙂 Funny…I am a lawyer too. Always keep in mind that the truth is the best defense!
I agree. There’s the truth and there’s there’s going to court in Canada. Not worth my time, effort, or the extra expense. We already lost so much money from that one transaction. I had to weigh the costs and aggravation vs. winning, and decided to move on.
We tried to get our money back through conventional means; however, that didn’t work because of the rules put in place by HomeAway. All I have to live with and be ok with is that the owner took her daughters to Morocco with our money. They will be coming to San Diego this summer and I can only hope that we have the worst weather while they’re here, and their vacation home is right in the flight path of Lindbergh Field!
I’ve never had issues before here in Europe when I traveled and stayed in people’s homes, so I am very grateful for that! But your tips sure come in handy for future trips I’ll be planning! 🙂