Is AirBnB Safe? The Signs to Look For

how to be safe with airbnb

I first stumbled across AirBnB (<– click here for more info!) when I was weighing my options for hospitality on a past trip to Europe. In between hotels, hostels and farm stays (it's a thing, really), it can be a bit tricky to determine which place is the most conducive for your trip. However, ever since my first AirBnB visit in a cabin tucked away in Bar Harbor, Maine, I've been hooked. After having stayed in dozens of AirBnB's along the way, I've realized these opportunities offer so much more than a place to take your shoes off. It has allowed me to stay in a condo over looking Millennium Park in Chicago, make a studio apartment on Las Ramblas in Barcelona feel like home, and even sleep in a trailer-turned-bedroom underneath a volcano in Iceland (seriously). Places that were formerly off limits are now accessible to those looking for a better way to immerse themselves in their new surroundings. More than a roof over your head, the ability to interact with locals is priceless. I've spent evenings enjoying dried fish, a local delicacy, with my AirBnB host trading stories about our native cultures. While traveling to new places will always be exciting, it's interacting with the people that allow you to truly understand a different way of life. So how do you know who's worth a visit? It's still a scary thought, randomly showing up to someone's basement apartment to hole up for the night. Nevertheless, there are ways to make sure you're safe while not abandoning your adventurous soul.

AirBnB in Akureyri, Iceland

Reviews
The first thing to look for when scoping out places on AirBnB are the reviews noted by stars on each location. I aim to look for at least 10-15 reviews depending on the place (smaller, less touristy areas will logistically just have less visitors). While a large number of reviews are a good sign, it’s just as vital to take the time to read through a range of scores as well as the host’s reply to any criticism. Some of the one star reviews can be passed off as a fluke (no shampoo in the shower doesn’t totally merit one star for me), but keep an eye out for difficulty with checking in and checking out, surprising fees, and environmental issues. Is there a club downstairs that means little sleep? Make sure that’s something you’re willing to deal with. This is also a good time to scan the details to ensure there’s WiFi and parking available if needed. These are biggies that can’t be fixed once you arrive!

View from AirBnB in Chicago, Illinois
View from AirBnB in Chicago, Illinois

Message the Host
If you’ve found the rental that meets your requirements, message the host to let them know of your interest before booking. AirBnB’s policy enforces an open communication line so you can get to know your host, vice versa, before your stay. Make use of this time to inquire about house rules, number of guests, cell service, and ability to reach them. Also ask about the security of the room for rent. If it’s a shared home, does the door have it’s own lock? Is it a key pad, or an actual key? Knowing this ahead of time will save you the headache when you arrive. It’s important to note that while AirBnB does ‘verify’ their hosts as well as users, it means little more than connecting your account with another account or your ID. This mostly ensures that this person is ‘real’ but doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve passed a background check.

Background Search
How many rooms do they have for rent? Is this their actual home, or do they own multiple rooms they’re renting out? While it doesn’t make it safe or unsafe either way, it can change the experience. Double check that if it appears that a bunch of rooms for rent have a single host, double check that they actually all exist and are not a scam but following the process above.

AirBnB in Madrid, Spain
AirBnB in Madrid, Spain

Your Role
The concerns with AirBnB are on level with those of any hotel. Except with AirBnB, you at least have a direct line of communication if an issue were to arise as well as specific and target reviews to prepare for your experience (unlike a hotel where it’s for the whole building and the staff as a unit). Still, that doesn’t mean you can throw caution to the wind. Always check your nearby surroundings and let others know where you’ll be staying.

If you’re interested in checking it out, click here to get $20 off your first visit! (Full disclosure it’ll help contribute to my next AirBnB stay as well!)

Have you ever rented through AirBnB? What’s the most unique place you’ve stayed in?

xx,
Juliette

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Author: namastaytraveling

Welcome to Namastay Traveling! I'm Juliette, a 20-something certified yogi living in Washington, D.C. Follow along as I share my travel adventures while striving to achieve mindfulness along the way. Here you'll find helpful travel itineraries along with ways to practice peace while abroad. The adventurer in me honors the adventurer in you.

37 thoughts

  1. I booked once and had to cancel the trip, which sucked. But I’m going to NYC with my kids in a month and you literally JUST NOW reminded me that I have no place booked. I’m going to try it again. From staying in hostels, I know you’re right that meeting new people can really improve the quality of any trip. And thanks for the discount, hon. Good for you! Good for me 🙂

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  2. I love your post. It’s important that you do the necessary research when you are scoping out a place on Airbnb. I was a host for over 2 years and I always vetted my guests. Great read!

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  3. What an in depth post! I love using airbnb so it’s really nice to see that other people try to use it everywhere as well 🙂

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  4. Close to the house through Airbnb is a gamble! Finally you’re not sure if you’ ll sleep at home or on the street! Has its perks but if it’s financial solution.

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing! My family is visiting me soon in Seoul and they also booked via Airbnb. We were also very cautious because our friends all have mixed opinions about some of the places. Luckily I can the check the place out myself next week 🙂
    But again – thank you for your tips! Will definitely keep them in mind 🙂
    xo Laura

    http://www.theseoulitelife.com

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    1. Hope you have a wonderful visit with your family! It’s important to take note of other’s experiences and trust your gut in places you think would be a good fit. Hope they have an amazing experience!

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  6. Really great points to consider – especially with the reviews, and checking for criticism and the hosts response. I often find that people’s criticism can be based on things they personally hate, where-as I may not necessarily care about let’s say road noise, so I always like to read these reviews too, because a lot of the time it might not matter to you 🙂

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    1. So true! I read one review that was one star because the apartment ran out of shampoo…which may or may not be important to someone so, always a good idea to check out a range of people’s thoughts!

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  7. I LOVE AirBnB! I feel like reading the reviews is key and has allowed me to find some fantastic places. This summer will be our first time using it for international travel and I’m so excited for it! AirBnB is a game changer 🙂

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  8. Thank you for the tips! I’ve actually been looking into AirBnB for our upcoming trip! This is super helpful.

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