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.