Is Airbnb Safe?

Is Airbnb safe? That’s Air Bed N’ Breakfast in case you’re wondering. ;)

This is the first question that always comes up every time I share with friends that we’re using Airbnb when I book our accommodations abroad. There are concerned looks and valid doubts. I totally get it. I initially had my hesitations, too.

What if the place doesn’t look as good as it’s advertised in the listing? What if the owner is grumpy and strict? What if our things get stolen? Or the place gets broken into? Or the owner is psycho?

BUT what if you get a chance to experience a chic apartment in Paris? Or a really, really nice comfy bed and sheets (better than in hotel) in Bruges? What if you meet a cute little toddler to play with in a condo in Melbourne? What about a spacious room near the seaside in Reykjavik? Oh, and that delicious stroopwafel as a gift from your host in Amsterdam? Yum!

These are just some of the little things (we experienced) that could add up to a great journey.

is airbnb safe
The chic apartment we rented in Paris. Link and photo credit here.

From a third world culture perspective, we are often told not to talk or make friends with strangers. To always keep our guards up and be wary of people coming to us randomly (even when they seem nice). And that’s for a good reason.

Growing up in Manila, I have experienced and witnessed a lot of bogus tactics myself – scam, robbery, abduction and drug trading. Safety is a real world matter. So renting out your own space to a complete stranger is not really a well-accepted concept or idea in our nation.

However, I do believe that given the right circumstances and security precautions, Airbnb is a great way to connect travelers with locals with a spare room to rent. It is way better than a hostel, and yet cheaper than a hotel. We have already made use of the Airbnb service several times to book our accommodations in Australia, Taiwan and Europe. Sometimes we book an entire home/apartment, other times we get a private room. I’m all for comfort and privacy so I don’t see myself choosing a shared room (like a hostel) though Airbnb also provides that option.

In our experience, we have never been disappointed. More often than not, the listing goes beyond our expectations. We get to chat with our local hosts (even for a short time) and get insider tips.

is airbnb safe
We rented a private room in this posh condo in Melbourne. Link and photo credit here.

So is Airbnb safe? Based on experience, my answer is YES! It’s one of the ways to get more value from your money. But I also don’t discount the fact that some misfortunes can happen. (It can actually happen wherever you are, even at home, right?) Don’t let that keep you from enjoying your travel.

I highly recommend doing diligent research and taking note of the following tips on how to make the most out of your Airbnb adventure.

BEFORE THE TRIP

#1 Read the customer reviews.

Just like as you would when choosing hotels, read the reviews from past travelers. The Airbnb community really provides helpful and detailed evaluation of their experience beyond the words ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Discern positive from unfavorable comments and check for red flags.

#2 Identify your non-negotiables.

Do you require a laundry washer? A queen-sized bed? One reviewer mentioned that the room is perfect but there’s no warm water in the shower, will that be fine to you? Little things matter! Name them to make sure that your stay will be comfortable.

Listing down your needs will also help to lessen your options until you get close to your ideal accommodation, whether that means renting the entire home, living with the host, or sharing with other travelers.

#3 Communicate to the host.

Always ask questions or contact your potential host before booking. This way you can get a feel of their personality and establish a relationship before your arrival. The Airbnb mobile app and website have a built in function to directly send them a message. Use it. Remember that you are a stranger to them, too, so they are probably just as cautious as you are.

Ask about your non-negotiables. If they say you can wash your clothes, do they provide the detergent, too? Is there also a dryer? Will you be allowed to bring food in the room? Or use the kitchen? Find out as much as you can and know exactly what you’re getting into.

#4 Ensure that the Host’s ID is verified.

Check out your host’s profile in Airbnb to confirm if he/she has a verified ID. Airbnb introduced Verified ID to highlight hosts that have their photo ID uploaded and also provided more information of them by confirming their social media accounts and other personal details. Generally, hosts that make that extra effort are usually serious about creating a safe and enjoyable experience for their guests.

#5 Have a backup plan.

Things happen. It’s always good to be prepared and have important contact details on hand (a friend’s or family’s number, emergency numbers) in case things go askew.

is airbnb safe
Spacious room in Reykjavik near the sea. Link and photo credit here.

DURING THE TRIP

#6 Check out the place.

Hosts usually provide a detailed instruction on how you can find their property. If you found it exactly as what is listed on Airbnb then good for you. If not, it’s either you choose to stay or find a new place. This is unlikely to happen though, unless you really feel uneasy… which brings me to the next point.

#7 Trust your instinct.

If you don’t feel comfortable at all, find someplace else. Use your backup plan!

If it’s something negotiable, talk to your host and maybe they can work something out (like if the room has poor lighting or the locks do not work). Otherwise, you can always contact Airbnb to state your concerns. If they are reasonable, you can get your money back.

#8 Always bring valuables with you.

If you’re worried about leaving your precious loots at home, always carry them with you (mobile gadgets, passports, money, cameras). You’re going to use them anyway as you explore around.

I’m not really cynical, and I personally don’t bring a lot of valuables when I travel. Yep, I know the drill! But if you want extra security, keep locks on your bags to discourage curious hands. It always pays to be careful.

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Apartment we booked in Oia for our trip this autumn! I’m excited with this view! Link and photo credit here.

AFTER THE TRIP

#9 Clean up!

I know that the cleaning fee is already inclusive of your Airbnb payment. But in respect to your host (and as a responsible traveler), at least wash the dishes if you used them. Or pick up the empty bottles, plastics or used napkins and place them in trash bins. You don’t have to make it spotless clean but don’t leave the place inappropriately messy either.

#10 Leave an honest review.

Help the next traveler and leave an honest, transparent feedback regarding your experience. Remember to always address negative or sensitive comments with kindness and professionalism. Your reviews will let other travelers know what to expect. It will also be easier for them to make informed decisions when choosing where to stay.

You have an option for either a public or private review. I usually state the pros and cons in my public review. Then, I send a private constructive review to the host to improve their listing or their service. Or most of the time, I just send a genuine ‘thank you’ to show my gratitude.

There you go! Hope these tips helped ease your worries a bit regarding the entire home-sharing idea. I’m a proud Airbnb’er (I just coined that word!) and I just can’t stress enough how staying in one not just stretched our travel budget but also opened our minds.

Have your tried Airbnb before? How was your experience?

If you’re new, here’s S$27 off of your first Airbnb stay, on me! ;)

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  • Mei

    I wanted to try Airbnb, but when we’re about to book a room, it was fully booked na daw dun sa gusto naming room. Well, peak season kasi. That was on New Year’s eve hahaha
    I still want to give it a try. I don’t think it’s a bad idea, since you have all the means to search and ask the host naman. It’s up to you to make sure it’s safe. :) Also airbnb rates are affordable! And it feels like you’re just at home hehe

    • Yes, just like when you’re searching for hotel, you still need to ensure that it’s safe pa din naman. It’s really affordable especially when you’re in an expensive city like Sydney. That’s how we first discovered Airbnb. :)

  • Jessica Kathryn

    Hi Melai,
    My family has been traveling for the past 7 months exclusively staying in Airbnb rentals. I think we are on our 11th or 12th stay now. I agree, it has been a great resource for us and safe. We had one host that was pretty psycho but Airbnb took care of it and we moved to a new place immediately (no money out of pocket). I think your advice is spot on, great blog!

    • Wow you’re a more frequent Airbnb’er than me! I think I’m only on my 7th stay. Happy to know that Airbnb has been helpful to you, too. I agree that their service is really commendable. One time our host suddenly cancelled our booking, but Airbnb refunded our money and gave us extra coupon for our next stay! :)

      What’s your blog, Jess? I clicked your Disqus profile but it’s not listed there.

      • Jessica Kathryn

        I’m new to Disqus, wondering how it compares with WordPress? Any thoughts? My blog is http://www.theperpetualtourists.com

        • I’m also a WordPress user. I actually have a scheduled post regarding the plugins I used. :) I love Disqus because it’s modern and user friendly. Your readers won’t need to fill in a lot of fields (name, email, website, and sometimes random letters) so they are more likely to leave a comment. Just like when you’re commenting in Facebook. ;)

  • carlingdoodling

    Hi Melai, am also Filipina based in Singapore, would love to connect with you! Nice post about safety in using AirBnB. I am an avid fan of AirBnb and is using it in most of my travels. So far so good and I have met new friends that still keep in touch up to now!

    • Hi Carla! Thanks for dropping by! Airbnb is really a great way to mingle with locals and other travelers. :) What’s your social media accounts? I checked your blog but couldn’t find it there. Let’s connect! <3

      • carlingdoodling

        facebook.com/carlaabanes! yep happy to connect. my facebook page is facebook.com/justtravellingsolo

  • Ivana Leturia

    Haven’t used Arbnb yet but I want to try it in me next trip

  • Sarah

    I do intend to make my first Airbnb trip very soon. Nervous, but your points are all very sensible. Hopefully all will go well and I’ll be a fellow Airbnb-er.

    • Thanks Sarah! Happy that you find this post helpful. You can always start with a private house/apartment if you’re not yet comfortable with staying with the owner. Actually, some hotels also list their rooms Airbnb like the one we stayed in Iceland. :)

  • CurlyCurlyK

    These are great tips. I’ve only used AirBnB once, but it was a great experience. I was definitely nervous though! It’s still sort of a foreign concept, haha. Great post :)

    • Yes it took a while for me to get use to the idea too! But once we had the great experience, it’s kinda addicting. Because I love saving money when traveling! :)

  • Great tips! I haven’t used Airbnb yet. Everyone’s experience is going to be different but it’s important to stay as safe as possible and I will definitely be using these tips when I book Airbnb.

    • Thanks Marteen! I agree, it’s always safety first. Airbnb is just a great alternative if you want to stretch your budget. :)

  • These are fabulous times thank you for sharing them! I’m planning on using air b&b very shortly so I’m bookmarking this for future use! Your photos look lovely by the way, I love the idea of having a quaint pretty apartment rather than a regular hotel room.

    • Thanks Sarah! Have a wonderful Airbnb stay! Where are you headed next? :)
      I love discovering quaint, homey places to stay too.

  • Stephanie Raley

    Some great tips for making the most of Airbnb here. I use Airbnb quite frequently when I travel. I find that it’s great value and helps me to live life a bit like a local in the places I travel to. I alos love that fact that the money is going directly to people, not multinational businesses with offshore bank accounts :)

    • That’s a good point Stephanie. We get to help out small businesses and local owners too, not just big tourist companies. Glad that you find great value in staying in Airbnb. It’s savings account-friendly. :)

  • Such a good guide. I’ve never tried airbnb but I’m thinking about it lately. I’ve heard good and bad things but I’m agree that everyone has different experience. The safety is the most important.

    • Yes yes Evelina! Always safety first and trust your instinct. My suggestion is to try it out first on safe cities “in general” like Singapore, Sydney or London. And pick those apartments with neighbors, not the one’s located far from the city. :)

      Thanks for dropping by!

      • Thanks for the tips. I’m thinking to try it in Barcelona this autumn :)

  • I have only tried Airbnb once but it was a really great experience! Whenever I travel, Airbnb will surely be on top of my list when looking for places to say! :)

    xx, Janine | Wandering Ella

    • Glad you had a great experience on your first, Janine! Hopefully it booms in the Philippines as well so we can help families and small business earn some extra. We’re so hospitable pa naman. :)

  • I have tried Airbnb many many times for my trip. Be it when I travel solo or with friends or family. Like what you said, it is beyonf expectation. :) So far, I also had good experiences and never been disappointed. As long as as we check the listing carefully and read the reviews, all should be fine.

    • Reading feedback from past travelers really help! I’m glad that your family and friends are open to the idea as well. It’s like having a vacation home in another country! Thank you Tracy! :)

  • What an awesome post! You just need to trust your instinct and do your research when it comes to things like Airbnb. I have stayed in about 30 and never had a problem! But I do check comments, ratings and reviews etc first.

    http://www.travelmatters.co

    • You’re a pro, 30 is a lot! Reading comments and reviews are substantial in booking just about anything. Thanks Sophie. :)

  • OMG Melai! We might bump each other in Santorini hahaha. Husband already booked a tour in Greece. And I’m literally checking AirBnb now. When are you guys going?

    When I saw the Airbnb photo of the room you booked in Oia, I was like this photo was familiar to me. Anyways, I’m excited for both of us. :-)

    • Haha! Talaga?! We’re going off season, by October. That room in quite popular, they are always fully booked.

      I’m excited, too! :)

      • I guess we’re only days ahead. We’re going mid September. Yeah that particular room was fully booked na. We might get a room in Fira seguro mas closer to the airport.

        • Sayang! We could have had dinner together. :) Last year, we were in EU on September. We’re looking into catching Northern Lights in Iceland kaya medyo late autumn na ko nagbook. :)

          • Oo nga, no worries marami pang next time hahaha. Hopefully you can catch Aurora this time. We’re planning to catch Aurora in Alaska or Lofoten Norway pero not this year pa. :-)

  • Whenever I have nothing to do, I browse. I guess it’s really better to check in an Airbnb cos hotels cost too much. It’s best also for those who travel on budget. I guess on our next trip, I have to convince my parents to just book rooms throught airbnb! :) Great post, anyway. Thanks for the tips!

    LEI, THE LEI REGEEL

    • Thanks Lei! Saving money is one of the reasons to opt for Airbnb especially when hotels are expensive in the city. :)

  • Dahrren Dominguez

    Whoever thought of Airbnb is amazing! Haha. Tourists get to interact with the locals by doing so. And I agree, it’s a lot cheaper than hotels plus the hosts can give you tips that could come in handy. Btw, loved the places you featured! Waaaaay better than 5-star hotels. Haha!

    Da | The Diary Queen

  • We love Airbnb too though I’ve never thought to call ourselves Airbnb’ers but I think I will now. :-)
    In our experience I would say your post is great advice to those thinking about giving it a try. I think we’ve stayed in about 20 places in Canada, USA, Ireland, France, Germany, Scotland, and Italy (so far) and like your experience most of the time the hosts/place are better than we expected.

    We’ve only had one negative experience where someone cancelled on us at the last minute and we had to find a hotel at short notice. But I have been in the hotel industry and they overbook too so have been in the position where I’ve had to tell guests that show up late at night that “I’m sorry, but we are actually overbooked so we don’t have a room for you.”. So things like this happen with hotels too. Like you said, have a back up plan.

    I definitely encourage others to give it a try, especially if they are looking to “live like the locals” a little bit.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience Stacey. With proper research and being a responsible traveler, Airbnb is such a great platform. We also experienced one host canceling our reservation but thankfully it’s a few days before the trip so we still had the chance to find a new one. And kudos to you for being understand about the late notice.

      Hope you’re having a great week! :D