Pictures aren’t always worth a thousand words
Home-sharing sites are a lot like dating apps. You see homes at their best with great lighting, angles, filters, and everything looks pristine. A few swipes and you’re ready to book your vacation rental. That’s what Todd Brabender, of Lawrence, Kansas and his wife did when they recently booked an Airbnb, only to find the bathroom was horrible. “It had black mold on the tub, weird lighting, and the floor of the tub felt like it was going to cave in,” says Brabender. “Looking back, we realize there were no pictures of the bathroom in the listing. Now we know why.” To avoid the same vacation mistake, make sure you see all the pictures of the rooms you will be using and ask if there have been any updates since the last pictures were taken.
How safe are the digs?
While amenities and aesthetics are important, don’t forget about safety. “There’s a gorgeous high-end hostel in Rome with a killer price because it’s in a horrible neighborhood,” says Kathy Haan, a business mentor who frequently uses home-sharing options when traveling. Consider doing a search at crimereports.com or familywatchdog.us to check out the safety of the neighborhood. You’ll want to feel safe and comfortable about walking home from a restaurant or taking the kids to a local park. Even if the neighborhood is generally safe, be vigilant about locking your car at night or storing things like bikes. “Most locals will know it’s a rental with constantly changing guests but this can potentially open you up to theft or other crimes,” says Haan.
You skim over the rules
You just booked the ultimate vacation rental but upon arrival find you’re not allowed to have guests on the property unless they booked with you as registered guests! “Some hosts have very specific rules,” says Kerith Henderson, an Airbnb “Superhost” (a Superhost must have at least 80 percent of their reviews be five stars). “Guests who don’t read through the rules can find themselves in a difficult situation if they happen to break one.” Thoroughly read the rules and you’ll get a sense if this is the place that’s right for you.