7 tips for making your Airbnb stay safer
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Airbnb and home rentals have become many families’ first choices for travel accommodation.
And while I have been both a longtime user and host on Airbnb, I had an experience where I felt unsafe when staying alone with my son at an apartment in Lisbon over a recent spring break.
I’ve traveled with my 4-year-old to 19 countries, and I’m not one to usually shy away from traveling. So naturally, I started asking other families for tips on feeling safe when staying in an Airbnb.
If you’re looking for practical tips on booking an Airbnb as a family, read this article and keep reading below if you’re looking for ideas on how to make sure your Airbnb is secure for your family.
For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Does the Airbnb have fire detectors?
My top concern with my recent Airbnb experience was around fire safety. Our Airbnb in Lisbon was on the top floor without a clear fire exit, no smoke detectors or fire extinguishers. I have since learned that many travelers bring their own smoke alarms or batteries just in case.
Pro tip: Check the listing beforehand and consider traveling with your own smoke and CO2 detectors. Test to make sure the alarms are working when you arrive. A parent who travels with their own devices told me to be sure to put them in your checked luggage or expect additional screenings of your carry-on through security.
Have an emergency exit plan at your Airbnb
My children are young, so I would be responsible for them. But, I’ve learned from other families that they discuss entrances and exits with their older children when they arrive at an Airbnb.
Pro tip: Parent and frequent traveler Jules Stephan took me through her process after arriving at an Airbnb. “Like at home, we discuss as a family where the emergency exits are,” Stephan told TPG. “We open all windows to make sure they can be opened, and we know how to, and check if there is any ledges or roof that you can use to climb up and down in case of emergency — but also check on ease for burglars to get in.”
Do you know what the entrance of Your Airbnb looks like?
My first safety concern came when I arrived after midnight with my sleeping son, and our Uber driver got lost on the winding one-way streets of Lisbon.
The listing didn’t have an exterior photo, and the Uber driver let me out a few hundred feet up the street, so I was scrambling to pull up a map and find the entrance at 12:30 a.m. with my child and belongings in a foreign city.
Pro tip: Once you’ve booked your Airbnb, always look up the address on Google Street View to check out the street and area. You can also request a photo of the outside of the home from your host.
“I try to arrive during the day,” mom and expat Alyson Tart told TPG. “If I can, I pick apartments where the host greets you rather than just a keypad.”
Check for hidden cameras
I have never worried about hidden cameras in an Airbnb, but they’ve made the news lately. Hidden cameras and recording devices are against Airbnb policies, but more and more hosts are using them as a security measure to protect their property.
Pro tip: Mom Sonia Travi trains parents and their families on travel safety. “Bring an infrared light to discover hidden cameras,” she told TPG.
When was the code last changed on the Airbnb?
When I arrived in Lisbon and entered the code to get into the Airbnb building, I instantly wondered how many people knew that code and could get into the building and easily up to the door where we were staying. While some smart locks update after every guest, most lockboxes are only changed manually.
Pro tip: Ask the host how often their lockbox code is changed and if it could be reset before your arrival.
Bring a motion alarm and door stop
While I would not necessarily travel with an alarm due to my children likely setting it off, I learned from parents who frequent Airbnbs that many do for extra peace of mind.
Pro tip: Bringing a small door jam with an alarm is small, inexpensive and could help you feel safer in a hotel or Airbnb.
Secure your belongings
I spoke with a family who was burgled while in an Airbnb, and their insurance did not cover their electronics because they were not stored in a locked safe. Under the terms of their travel insurance, they were required to be.
According to an Airbnb support center representative with whom I spoke, the company does not have a specific process of what happens if there is a burglary. You are advised to call the local police and go through Airbnb’s resolution center, where you may or may not receive compensation for any theft and damage.
Pro tip: Check if your Airbnb has a safe for valuables or consider locking your electronics and keeping your passport with you.
An Airbnb can be a great way to socially distance while on vacation, but you should still take the same COVID-19 precautions that you would at a hotel. I suggest giving your Airbnb a good wipe down when you arrive and disinfecting high-touch surfaces.
Airbnb’s policy says that guests and hosts must agree to wear a mask or face covering when interacting in person and maintain six feet of distance from each other at all times. Hosts are also required to commit to Airbnb’s five-step cleaning policy, which requires hosts to ventilate the space before and during cleaning, wash all dishes and laundry at the highest heat setting possible and avoid re-entering a room once it’s been sanitized.
Finally, consider booking a vacation rental that has a buffer period between you and the previous guest.
Airbnb and home-sharing offer many benefits for families — from preparing your own meals to cost savings and the ability to accommodate larger groups. With a few precautions, you can avoid potential safety concerns at your Airbnb and rest easy.
Featured image via Shutterstock
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees