Home-sharing has become one of the most popular accommodation choices since it is usually more cost-friendly than hotels, while offering a wide range of available accommodations. From a quaint bungalow single room, to an entire luxury villa, or even a yacht, the options are nearly endless. It’s a great option to look into for accommodations for your next travel destination, but there are a few things that we as travelers should always be aware of to keep us safe.
I’ve stayed in many AirBnB homes along my travels, and I always felt super safe – until one trip something happened, the I’m now even seeing all over the news. We found a hidden camera, disguised as a charger, in our bathroom. This made myself and my friend that I was staying with feel extremely uneasy. That incident – although an entire story in its own – got me wondering about accommodation safety and how we can better protect ourselves in ANY accommodation – not only AirBnB. This blog post isn’t meant to scare you out of traveling, but to highlight ways that we can ensure our own safety and comfort while we are traveling. I’m going to share a few tips with you that I have learned along the way of traveling frequently.
First things First: Make sure you are booking through reputable sites!
Even better if there are numerous reviews, a vetting process for hosts, and the company has a good reputation. Don’t go searching on Facebook for a home share, there’s little to no information that the person you will be renting from is running a valid business or is following the proper safety, cleanliness, or insurance standards required by legitimate companies. Sites like AirBnB and HomeAway are reliable, reputable companies.
Before you Depart:
Make sure someone you trust has a copy of your itinerary. Where you are staying, activities you are planning to do, etc. Keep in touch with them throughout your trip so they are aware of any changes that may arise. This may sound like common sense - but it’s easy to overlook when you’re in the excitement of getting ready for your trip or arriving.
When you Arrive:
First thing you want to do when you arrive is follow the host’s check-in policies. Once you have dropped your luggage and determined where your room is, take note of where any exits are located in case of any emergency. Note if there are multiple ways out of the home. If it’s multiple stories, is there a fire escape or a way you can escape out a window if the house were to catch fire? Something else to think about - should you or will you be seeing other people in the home ?Do you have the entire home to yourself? Are there other guests staying in other rooms? Does the host live in the home? How about on the property? These are all things to note so you are aware of other people that may be walking around at some point during your stay (or if there shouldn’t be other people in the home).
Be aware of your surroundings, even the tiniest details!
Make note of what is around the room/bathroom/shared spaces when you arrive. If something looks suspicious, or appears out of the blue, don’t be afraid to investigate further. I’m going to go over a little story regarding the hidden camera we found in a home share (that I mentioned in the intro).
I had hopped into the shower upon arrival and brought my own charger into the bathroom to listen to music while getting ready for dinner. I removed my charger before we left for dinner, and when we returned, I noticed there was a new charger box in the wall. It was in the bathroom we were supposed to have to ourselves, and it looked odd. It was a little longer than the normal charger blocks, and was black with a little blue dot in the middle. I looked closely and realized it was actually a camera. We took the SD card out of it after figuring out how to open it, and then left the home to stay in a hotel instead. We alerted AirBnB and the authorities.
Had I not been aware of my surroundings, and the details of the room and bathroom, that probably would have gone unnoticed. I make it a big deal when I check into a place to check everything over in our space. I suggest you do the same with ANY accommodation you are staying in, make note of everything and report anything suspicious.
Lock it up!
Note any locks on the bedroom doors, and utilize the locks when away or when sleeping for your room. This will keep you and your belongings safe. If there is no lock - consider a travel lock or bring your valuables along with you. If you are in a shared space (like a hostel) consider bringing a luggage lock. If you have the whole home to yourself, make sure to lock the door(s) when you leave - this will keep your belongings safe, but also the homeowner’s belongings. It’d be really bad if their flatscreen TV went missing during your stay. Another thing you can consider doing is leaving a light on when you leave the home, that way it appears that someone is there, and makes it easier to see if you get back in the evening.
Last but not Least:
If you ever feel uncomfortable or unsafe, let someone know and leave the situation. When we found that hidden camera, we immediately packed our things and started driving away from the location while on the phone with AirBnB to let them know about the situation. We felt much safer when we got to the hotel than we would have if we had stayed overnight.
Most of these may seem like common sense, but they are important things to think about when you are booking a place to stay or arriving for your trip. If I missed anything, comment below and let me know!