Before you question my Airbnb authority here, let me state the following: I’m a research girl, my husband Bret and I have booked upwards of 50 short-term rentals, and, I’ve been screwed. So, I think I qualify as an expert in this arena, or at least have enough experience to help you avoid several of the common pitfalls.
With the rise of Airbnb and VRBO, travelers now have more options than ever before for finding accommodations that fit their budget and preferences. After living out of hotels a lot over the past couple years, Bret and I prefer to rent a home if we’re going to be somewhere longer than a week. I like having a “home base,” and, a place where my Amazon deliveries can arrive easily (LOL).
We’ve learned a few things the hard way, like do not use a real estate agent to do anything on your behalf without asking them about fees first. We used an agent for one day for an Airbnb I found, and he tried charging us $13,500! (Listen to that scam story here).
Tips to help you avoid getting scammed on Airbnb or VRBO:
Do Your Research
The first step to avoiding scams on Airbnb or VRBO is to do your research. Make sure to read the reviews left by previous guests and check the host’s profile for any red flags. If a host has no reviews or seems sketchy, it’s best to steer clear. Additionally, make sure to check the location of the listing to ensure it’s in a safe area and convenient for your needs.
Beware of Too-Good-to-Be-True Deals
If a listing seems too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers often lure in unsuspecting travelers with low prices and promising amenities, only to disappear once the payment has been made. Don’t fall for these traps and always be cautious of deals that seem too good to be true.
Use the Platform’s Messaging System
Airbnb and VRBO have built-in messaging systems for a reason – to protect you from scammers. Always use the platform’s messaging system to communicate with hosts and never give out personal information, such as your phone number or email address. This will help protect you from scams that involve fake hosts or phishing attempts.
Only Use Secure Payment Methods
One of the biggest risks of using Airbnb or VRBO is the possibility of paying for a listing only to find out it doesn’t exist or the host is a scammer. To protect yourself, only use secure payment methods, such as credit cards or PayPal. These payment methods offer greater protection in the event of fraud or disputes.
Watch Out for Fake Listings
Scammers often create fake listings to lure in unsuspecting travelers. These listings may feature stolen photos and false information, such as a prime location or luxurious amenities. To avoid falling for fake listings, always verify the information with the host and check the reviews left by previous guests.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
When booking a vacation rental, it’s important to ask the host questions about the listing and their policies. If a host is reluctant to answer your questions or gives vague responses, it’s a sign that they may be hiding something. Don’t be afraid to ask for more information or clarification to protect yourself from scams. Communicate with the hosts to know what you’ll be dealing with for as long as you’re renting; evaluate their responsiveness and communication style. Also, read the cancellation policy!
Check the Location
Look for properties in safe and convenient locations, and make sure to read the listing’s description for any additional location-specific details. Also check the map!
8. Check the Amenities
Little things make a big difference (to me anyway), such as at least one full-length mirror, strong WiFi, AC, and updated decor.
9. Ask for a Video Tour
Getting a video tour will give you a much better perspective than a wide angle lens photo shoot that might be outdated.
10. Use Your Gut Instinct
Last but not least, always use your gut instinct when booking a vacation rental on Airbnb or VRBO. If something doesn’t feel right or the host seems sketchy, it’s best to walk away. Trusting your intuition can help protect you from scams and ensure you have a safe and enjoyable vacation.
In conclusion, while the convenience of Airbnb and VRBO is undeniable, it’s important to be cautious and protect yourself from scams. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t be like the guy who thought he found a luxury beachfront property for $50 a night, only to arrive and find a shack with a view of the garbage dump. Trust your gut and ask questions. And if all else fails, just book a stay in a cardboard box on the sidewalk – at least you know what you’re getting into!
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Oh, and did you know I have a Patreon? If you love my free episodes, you’re going to LOVE the extra ones that I reserve just for my homies. These episodes are juicer, more personal, feature my husband Bret completely unfiltered and are kinda like a secret club. Check it out here.