Airbnb Safety Tips For Travelers
Are you trying to save money when traveling? Want to meet the locals in a personal way? Don’t like the sterile nature of hotel rooms or the commune feel of hostels? Airbnb might be the solution!
Airbnb is a company that allows people to post online rooms, apartments, or houses available for short term rent. There’s all levels of pricing, from basic apartment rooms to luxury mansions. When I was studying abroad in Scotland, Airbnb was a great option for me. When hostels weren’t available, Airbnb options almost always were. I met some of the most wonderful and hospitable Scottish people by staying with them through Airbnb, and I didn’t regret using it once.
However, there’s always reasons to be as safe as possible when you travel. Airbnb is no exception. On their website, they list several standards that they require of hosts and guests to keep the community safe and accessible. As a guest, it’s always in your best interest to be curious and respectful of your host. Here are some tips to make sure your Airbnb experience is enjoyable and safe!
Do Your Research
Read them! Reviews are one of the best ways to get a feel for your host. Whether they are always in the space, tend to be absent, or have a quirky vibe about them. It helps to understand what the space will be like when you arrive and what to expect. I tend not to look at an Airbnb unless it has at least 5-7 reviews already. I won’t even consider a place that doesn’t have reviews. Also check the date when the last few reviews were; if there are bad ones from a few years ago but the most recent ones are ecstatic, reconsider booking there!
Once you have used your Airbnb and returned home, leave an honest review to help your host and fellow travelers. Positive reviews help others know they can book safely with the host and have expectations. Negative reviews can give the host constructive criticism to improve their space or interactions. Airbnb considers itself a community, and by leaving reviews you can help others be safe and aware of what they are booking.
Identification and Googling.
Check out the identification that the host uses on their profile. Usually there is some kind of verification that occurs, but if they seem to be rather sparse with their profile and ID, be wary. Also feel free to Google their name and city to see if anything negative pops up. Don’t be stalker thorough, but do your duty to find out the basics.
Messaging and Communication.
Message your host to tell them about yourself once you book and give them an idea of what your plans are. Remember that your host is opening up their home or space to you, so they are trusting that you are a respectful and safe person too! If the messages you receive are sketchy or seem copy and pasted, reach out to Airbnb and/or cancel your reservation. Don’t feel bad for feeling unsure of your host: think about what is safest for you and your travel buddies.
Photos and When You Arrive.
Check out the photos provided! If they provide a lot of photos of the space and they seem authentic, get excited about your upcoming vacation. Check for photos that seem downloaded off the internet or are outdated. When you arrive the your Airbnb, see if the space matches what the photos advertised. Remember this for when you write your review later on!
When selecting your Airbnb, keep the location in mind. Is it near public transportation? Does it have space to park your car? Will it take you longer to get to where you want to be if you stay at Space A instead of Space B? If the description is good, it will have a list of places to eat or visit in the surrounding area. If you’re really curious, ask your host for food suggestions or site seeing must-do’s.
Buddy System and WiFi.
If you are traveling alone, be very careful when reserving an Airbnb. Make sure that you have the ability to contact a friend or family member when you arrive. Have a back-up plan in case you feel unsafe or the space wasn’t what you expected. Make sure that there is WiFi available in your Airbnb. You might think that this is a “no duh,” but sometimes it is not. Chatting with your host ahead of time can help ease any worries you have about traveling alone. For women, staying with a host of the same gender can often be less worrisome.
Be a Good Guest.
Meet Your Host.
Try and meet your host at your space! When traveling, it’s nice to have a familiar face, especially when you are staying in a homey space. Ask them about food recommendations or local activities that you must do. Sometimes hosts are more hands-off and let you do your own check in and check out. Sometimes you will be living in the same space!
Trust Your Gut.
If you feel strange about the space once you have checked in, or your host is not what you expected, trust your gut. If you feel unsafe in any way, feel free to leave. You are not required to be polite and stay just because you booked the space. This is when checking in with family or friends is important.
Clean After Yourself.
Be a good guest and don’t be a slob. Clean up after yourself in common areas and don’t leave a mess behind. You want your host to have a good experience with Airbnb too! Be courteous to the host and be helpful when living in their space.
Help Other Airbnb-ers out!
Leave an Honest Review.
I know I mentioned this earlier, but this is super important! Leave an honest review of your experience on the listed page. This will not only help fellow Airbnb guests but the host too! If you have an extraordinarily bad experience with a host, leave a review and also contact Airbnb so that it doesn’t happen again. While this is unlikely to happen, be a member of the community and help other people out so that they don’t experience it.
My favorite Airbnb experience was staying in a stone cottage in the middle of the Scottish Highlands. My host, Robin, and her dad live on the same property and live off the land. They were incredibly kind and helpful, and it was such a joy to meet them and get to know them. I know I would never have met Highland Ponies or seen incredible October sunsets in the northernmost part of Scotland if I hadn’t found their Airbnb. May you have the same experience wherever you go!