Have you ventured into using AirBnB (or other vacation rental by owner) for travel or are you still unsure about whether it is safe and reliable?
One of the things holding people back is that sometimes the images are not professional and therefore they wonder if they are getting the full story about where the rental is located.
This can happen with all sorts of lodging operations. Even chain hotels use special lenses to make the rooms look bigger and strategically frame the exterior to flatter the hotel.
This happened to me about a year ago when I went on Bookings.com and rented a room for a stay in Hamilton Ontario.
Not only was the person not there when I arrived (after 7 hours of driving) but there were also bars on all the windows. It was not a great neighborhood. I took off quickly and eventually got my money back (with struggle… bookings.com was not great about this) but the important thing is that I learned a lot from the experience.
I was reminded of this 2 months ago when a friend asked me about staying in vacation rentals in New York. She wanted to save money and asked about a particular AirBnB in Jersey City, New Jersey, across the river from Manhattan.
I told her that I only know New York, but that she could check out the neighborhood using Google Earth to get clues as to where she would be staying.
I told her to ask these questions when looking at the vacation rental’s neighborhood with Google Earth:
- What the parking would be like?
- How comfortable would she be coming back from New York City with her two kids and walking through this neighborhood?
- Is there a place to grab breakfast or dinner or a snack?
- What is the quality of businesses around? Are they Starbucks or are the money lenders?
- Are the streets clean?
- Is there greenery?
- Do the building exteriors look new?
Is there a line where the neighborhood seems to go from good to bad? (In many urban areas, sometimes one block will make all the difference. However, sometimes the best deals are right on that line.)
Watch this video to see an example of using Google Earth to asses the neighborhood of a vacation rental, hotel, motel or hostel you are considering for your next vacation:
Side note, so far I have found AirBnB hosts to be exceptional clear and honest in their descriptions of the interior space and exterior neighborhood. This is just an added precaution.