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10 Things You Need to Do to Stay Safe at an Airbnb

Whether it’s hidden cameras or break-ins, booking an Airbnb can come with its own risks.

Airbnbs can be a great pocket-friendly solution for your next vacation. However, they don’t provide the same safety measures as a hotel. So, when you’re booking an Airbnb stay, there is more that you need to be aware of and research before you confirm the booking. Ranging from the reviews that a host has, to how safe the neighborhood is, and checking for spy cameras in the rental, here are ten things to keep in mind to ensure your safety during your trip.

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Book Through Super Hosts

When booking an Airbnb, you may feel unsure about your host. It’s not as if it’s a 5-star hotel where a certain level of service is guaranteed. After hearing scary stories from friends about last-minute Airbnb cancellations leaving them stranded in a foreign country, your fear is understandable. This is where super hosts come in. Airbnb has a program where certain hosts are categorized as super hosts based on their level of service. 

To gain super host status, hosts need to have a 4.8 overall rating based on reviews from Airbnb guests, and have completed 10+ stays in the past year. Moreover, they need to have a cancellation rate of less than 1%, not including extenuating circumstances. In effect, this means zero cancellation for hosts with fewer than a hundred bookings per year. This means you never have to worry about not having a place to sleep on your vacation if you book through a super host.

Another benefit of booking through a super host is their 90% response rate within 24 hours. This ensures that if you encounter any problems, your host will have to respond within 24 hours of you messaging them, affording you some peace of mind as you book your next Airbnb. So, make sure to turn the super host filter on when you are browsing.

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Read the Reviews Carefully

Even if you have picked a super host, it is important to read the reviews carefully. While a super host rating ensures that your host has an overall 4.8 stars or more, reading the reviews will help you get a better sense of the good and the bad of the Airbnb you are booking. Airbnb shows reviews based on six parameters, including location, communication, check-in, cleanliness, accuracy, and value.

It is important to make sure that the accuracy rating is high. This means that past guests have found the listing to be accurate and matching their in-person experience. You can also use the review search feature to look up keywords like safe, unsafe, unclean, dirty, or bad. This will bring up the negative reviews, if any, and let you make an informed decision. By going through all the reviews, you can ensure that you know what you are signing up for and that you will be safe in your chosen home.

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Make Sure the Host Is Responsive

For your safety, you must get a responsive host. In case you have any issues or there’s an emergency, you’d like to have a host that can get back to you within 24 hours at the latest. You don’t want to be stranded outside your locked room unable to get in, with a host who is not responding to your messages.

You can check for this through the reviews. One parameter for reviews is communication. Make sure that your host is highly rated on this parameter. And see what their response time is like when you message them before arriving at your stay. If you feel that the host is being uncommunicative, or asking inappropriate questions, it’s better to cancel before reaching the destination rather than being stuck in a dangerous situation.

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Pay Through the Airbnb Website Only

Staying safe doesn’t just mean physically safe. You also need to make sure that you are financially safe. One major way hosts try to scam guests is by making them pay on third-party software. By doing so, they may be able to get away with taking your money but not providing you the services.

Airbnb also would not be able to keep a record of the payment, and hence you may not receive your money back even after filing a complaint. You should also never be making cash payments after reaching your destination. The only safe way to pay for Airbnb accommodations is through their official platform. Make sure you remember that, no matter how persuasive the host’s argument might be.



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Make Sure the Lock Code Was Changed Before Your Stay

If your Airbnb can be accessed via an electronic lockbox using a code, it’s important to ask your host how often the code is changed and whether it can be reset before your stay. This is because you don’t know how many people know the code. After all, they have used the same Airbnb before you. If the code has not been changed recently, someone else could easily access your place of stay.

While some lockboxes automatically change the code periodically, many have to be changed manually. In that case, it’s important to make sure that it has been changed before your stay.  

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Use a Portable Door Lock

When traveling alone, it’s easy to feel scared of someone entering your room without permission, especially late at night. Portable door locks are a tried and tested method of keeping yourself safe in an Airbnb. These locks are often inexpensive and can be bought easily, and come in various shapes and sizes.

These locks generally get attached to the metal plate of the existing lock in your room and prevent anyone from opening the room from the outside. These can be an excellent extra layer of protection, especially for solo travelers. However, remember these only work when the door opens inwards and are not useful for doors that open towards the outside.

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Invest in a Motion Detection or Door Alarm

Getting a motion detection alarm or door alarm might be a worthy investment if you stay in Airbnbs often. A motion detection alarm can be aimed toward the door or window, or anywhere else in the room. It’ll ensure that if there’s any movement at all, it goes off, alerting you to a stranger’s presence in the room. Make sure that its range is at least 10 to 15 feet.

Similarly, while a door alarm can’t physically prevent access to the room, it could scare away people trying to enter your room without permission. Generally, these alarms get attached to the metal plate on the existing lock on the door, and they’re very easy to set up. These can be extremely useful for your peace of mind and ensure that you get a good night’s sleep.

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Check for Hidden Cameras

People are increasingly complaining about finding hidden cameras on their Airbnbs. This can be especially scary for women solo travelers in a strange city or country. You must check for hidden cameras upon entering your accommodations. You can do this in a few ways. First, you can do a physical inspection. Check for items that might be placed in a weird manner or gadgets that you don’t recognize in the room. Hidden cameras can be found in tissue boxes, toys, plants, and air filters. So, it’s important to check out all these things in the room and the bathroom. If you are unsure about anything, make sure to cover it with a cloth.

If you’re not sure that a physical inspection is enough, you can also use your mobile phone flashlight. You can do this by turning off the lights and making the room as dark as possible. Then, turn on both the flashlight and phone camera and aim them at the suspicious object. If there is indeed a hidden camera, you should be able to detect a glare on your phone. Cameras are against Airbnb policy, so make sure you report the host to the platform.

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Look for Smoke Detectors in the Room

Staying safe in an Airbnb also means protecting yourself from situations like a fire breaking out. It’s important to check whether your room has smoke detectors, fire alarms, or fire extinguishers. If the room has no smoke detector, you can request your host to install one. If they refuse, you can also buy a battery-operated portable fire detector.

This is especially important in buildings with no clear fire exit route. You may feel this is an unnecessary precaution, but you never know what will happen, and it is better to be safe than sorry.

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Research the Neighborhood

To ensure your safety in an Airbnb, you also need to research the neighborhood thoroughly. The neighborhood’s crime rate, whether there have been any recent break-ins or any other issues in the locality, needs to be considered. If you plan to return late at night from your outings, you need to ensure that the area is safe to walk back to, is well connected with public transport, or can easily be found on maps.  

You can also ask your host questions about the neighborhood and scour through the reviews for answers to some of your questions. Being in a safe neighborhood will help you be at peace and not jump up at every loud noise you hear at night!