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5 Safety Tips for Airbnb Travellers

With globalization the world seems to be getting smaller, and people are becoming more creative with their travel accommodations. Because of the development of a sharing economy, inexpensive alternatives, housing that is tailored to specific needs, and more authentic experiences are taking centre stage for travellers of all ages and experience.

BeachPeople_copy_4-1Airbnb is an alternative method that’s become very popular. The platform allows homeowners to share their space with guests through reservations. Travellers appreciate how Airbnb offers an authentic local experience and a welcoming sense of belonging no matter who they’re staying with.

Much like hostels, one of the biggest worries you might have concerns security. How safe is the arrangement, really? We did the research and compiled a list of five ways you can protect yourself when using Airbnb:

Pay and Communicate on Airbnb

In the age of the internet, we are all rightfully wary of potential scams. Airbnb is generous with refunds and controls the transaction, so ensuring you follow their process means your transaction will be safe. They allow you to file for a refund within 24-hours of your check in if there are major issues, such as missing amenities. Direct cash between host/guest is against Airbnb rules, so stick with the sanctioned method and you’ll remain protected.

Airbnb includes a messaging service, so if you’re concerned about disclosing personal information, this means you don’t have to give your host more than they get from your profile. Airbnb is also always available for contact if you have any serious issues.Friends sitting together

Know your Host

Read the reviews. All of them are from verified Airbnb users who have stayed with the host. Especially if you’re a first time Airbnb user, look for an experienced host. They’ll have more reviews, and if other people have had good experiences, chances are you won’t arrive to find a horror-host.

Introducing yourself to your host is hugely important. It helps you get a feel for the person you’ll be staying with and allows you to ask more questions. Hosts are more likely to take guests that reach out to them, because they need to be confident in you, too.

Airbnb works to ensure all profiles reflect the person’s identity, but if you need reassurance you can set up a Facetime or Skype call. This is another way for you and your host to become acquainted, and potentially get excited about your trip.

When it comes to Contact…

Airbnb offers a wide range of communication options. You can use the Airbnb messaging system so you can access all relevant information at all times. Make sure it will be accessible during your travels.

Make sure you also know your host’s schedule. If your flight gets in late, or there are other issues, will you be able to contact them? There’s nothing worse than not being able to access your accommodations after a hectic day of travel.

Request a second person to contact if there is a chance that your host will be unavailable, ensuring that no matter when you arrive, someone will be in contact.iStock_000063319459Large

Know your Requirements

To feel safe, a space must meet your expectations. Make a list of what you need in your accommodations, and use it to narrow down your search.

Postings require an up-to-date list of the amenities offered along with photos of the space available. Airbnb’s rating system includes how well the information matched the destination. This forces hosts to be honest in their advertisements, ensuring you find what you’re actually looking for.

Airbnb also offers to take photos of the living space for hosts; if there is an A watermark on the pictures, you know they are Airbnb verified.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions concerning all the amenities, because you’re not staying in a hotel. Nothing is implied. Make sure the place you’re renting fits your travel, and remember that contacting a host is in no way a commitment. If you need a separate space, make that clear. If you want a room with a locking door, you need to ensure that they can provide that for you.

Prepare for Emergencies

However great your host may be, extenuating circumstances can always create issues. You need to have a back-up plan in case you’re unable to reach or get into your accommodation, and ensure you have the funds to back it up. Yes, you can get refunded, but the claims process won’t help you get a different place to sleep.

When you’re on your way to your residence, you should keep an eye on major landmarks so you always have a sense of where you are. A person’s house can be much more difficult to find than a hotel.

Know where the nearest Embassy and hospitals are. In one of our previous articles we recommended STEP. If you’re from the U.S., or your country has a similar program, utilize it! Embassies can be great resources during natural disasters, civil unrest, or other dangerous situations.

Finally, always buy traveller’s insurance. It’s not provided through Airbnb, and essential to protecting yourself while abroad.

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