Airbnb life: OMG my host cancelled my reservation at the last minute!

I. AM. STUNNED.!!!

Let me start off by saying, this post is not going to provide a lot of advice about what you should do if this should happen to you, because truthfully, I am still working out all of the details of the situation and I do not quite have the answers. This post is really me just venting, and letting you know about things that can happen when you are living life on the road.

So…here’s what happened.

LESS THAN 24 HOURS before I was set to check in to a home for a month, my boyfriend received a message from the host of the home. The message was for an alteration to the dates that we were to stay. Instead of checking in the next day and staying for a month stay, the host asked if we would accept his offer to check in TWO WEEKS FROM NOW for a two week stay, FOR $300 MORE than our month reservation!?!?!

WHAT. THE. ENTIRE. EFF!?!?!

A shorter stay for more money, and we can’t even check in on the day we NEED to check in!!??

Uhhh…no thank you!!

When the text came in, we were packing up and winding down at the home we were in, and making plans for our departure the next morning. But we had to change gears IMMEDIATELY and figure out 1) how do we get a refund and 2) where the eff are we gonna go in the morning????

My first thought was to see if we could stay put for a few more days. However staying at the home we were in at the time was not an option because another guest has already booked it.

We really did not have a lot of time to play around with and we needed to know what our options were IMMEDIATELY. Of course, in the day of on-line support and help bots, getting a human on the phone that could help was not the easiest thing to do. So my boyfriend worked on contacting airbnb and I got to work researching places we could check into the next day.

Though I don’t have any official advice for resolving these types of situations, here is what I did learn from the situation.

1) TRUST MY GUT – When we initially found this place, in our guts, we felt like something was off. The place didn’t have a TON of pics, but we felt like it was enough to make us feel comfortable with selecting it. The host also had kind of a distorted profile picture, which just kinda made us wonder why versus made us feel like it was a deal breaker. There weren’t any reviews, but hey, every home has to start with its first renter. And we had rented homes in the past that had little to no reviews because you get good deals as one of the first three renters for most homes. So that didn’t scare us off, but rather just made us prepare ourselves for a less-than-perfect stay. But here’s what made us question things a bit. Once our reservation was confirmed and we received the address, we googled it and realized it was an apartment versus a condo, so renting from a renter is really what made us apprehensive. I was actually surprised that this was permitted by airbnb but apparently it’s a new thing they started allowing. We feel like home owners and companies that use airbnb income as a primary income source have more to lose if our stay isn’t good or if they don’t live up to their end of the deal. Someone renting an apartment may not have the same type of personal or professional investment in the experience.

2) DO NOT CANCEL – Even once the host made it clear that his home would not be available for our stay, and even though we needed to release this reservation in order to make another reservation, we knew that THE HOST had to be the one to cancel in order for us to get our money back. And apparently he was dragging his feet on processing the cancellation. So unfortunately, we had to wait for airbnb to conclude their investigation into the situation (which took over 24 hours) in order for us to be refunded (which could take up to 15 days for the bank to fully process) and for my boyfriend to be able to book using his airbnb account for a reservation during the same period of time as the cancelled home.

3) BE CLEAR IN YOUR COMMUNICATION WITH THE HOST – Airbnb reviews the communication between guests and hosts. When the host sent us the altered reservation request, we made sure to clearly ask “IS YOUR HOME UNAVAILABLE FOR THE DAYS THAT WE HAVE RESERVED?”

4) MAKE SURE ALL COMMUNICATION STAYS WITHIN THE AIRBNB APPLICATION – This sort of goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway. In the event of any issues, this communication becomes your evidence. If it’s done outside the airbnb platform, it may be harder to prove your case.

5) HAVE A BACK-UP PLACE SELECTED – Each time we search for new places, we typically start off with a list and whittle it down based on all of the factors that are important to us (location, price, parking situation, safety factors, amenities, etc.). Once we make our final selection from that list, we typically don’t think anything else about the homes that we cut. But when something like this happens, it would be great to have that list as a starting point if we have to go back to the drawing board. We’ve already vetted or ruled out a lot of the homes, so we wouldn’t have to re-look at places we’ve already reviewed.

6) HAVE A NON-AIRBNB OPTION IN MIND – I have been relying solely on airbnb for my travels, and that is essentially the equivalent of putting all of my eggs in one basket. Though there are stipulations about where I can travel and work from, there are still some other non-airbnb options that I can consider, and I need to have those options on standby just in case. So doing research on other options will definitely be an action item for me in the upcoming weeks.

7) HAVE MORE THAN ONE METHOD OF CASH FLOW – This taught me that at any given moment, $3,000 can be locked up in airbnb shenannigans. Having some leeway with the purse strings will help to make these types of situations not be as dire as they could be.

8) AIRBNB DOES NOT HELP YOU FIND A PLACE IMMEDIATELY – So we had heard that airbnb has helped some travelers that have been caught up in situations where the host canceled last minute. We heard that airbnb will step in and find a place for you. IN OUR SITUATION, this was not the case. First of all, we needed a place THE. NEXT. DAY. which would have been Saturday morning. We had to be checked out the next morning and had a four hour drive ahead of us. By the time someone contacted us to help find a place, it was about 7pm Saturday night. I don’t know what they expected us to do if we were, say, stuck in an airport with no place to go, or traveling with a car full of kids expecting to pull into a home and get them fed and settled at check-in. We didn’t know whether we should drive the 4 hours to the city of the original home we were supposed to go to, or stay put, or head back to Maryland and beg relatives to let us couch surf. Instead we remained in limbo for 24 hours waiting for airbnb to conclude their investigation and advise us about next steps. It was only at that point that they then told us some other options for housing.

HOW DID THINGS END UP?

So the good news is that we were able to find a place for a week, and we checked into that place just fine. Airbnb finished their investigation, refunded our money, and gave us a $200 credit (with stipulations…ugh!). In addition, they assessed penalties against the host that cancelled. Once we got to the place we were able to book last minute, our first order of business was to find another home for the remaining three weeks that were part of our original reservation, and we think we found a nice place that we are looking forward to checking into. As of now, things have all worked out, but it was definitely a stressful couple of days. We definitely learned a few valuable lessons and realize we have a few things that we need to tweak, research, and be mindful of going forward.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? What happened and how was it resolved? I’d love to hear from you!

Road Trip Mix – Mountain Vibes Edition

It’s road trip season, and that definitely means that road trip music is necessary.

My recent trip to Wintergreen Resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains, VA was wonderful. And for this trip, of course there was lots of music over the course of my two-week stay. From the car ride itself, to the mountain bar, to the live musicians that entertained us, music was a constant.

I hate to sound cliche but this mountain resort was sorta Dirty Dancing-ish. We stayed up on one of the mountain sides in a cozy condo, and we came down the mountain (cue the Dirty Dancing stair scene) to go to the lodge, the restaurants, and other activities out on the main lawn. Though Dirty Dancing represented a specific period in time, my music mix has a range of songs…from 80’s and 90’s…to a little older…to a little more recent.

These songs in my playlist were tunes that I heard throughout either the road trip portion or while I was on the mountain at the bar, or at one of the live music performances (hint: the vibe changes a little when we heard the reggae band). The songs stuck out to me when they came on. They were songs that I loved singing, songs that put me in a mood, and songs that made me reminisce. Some are fun, some are quite emo, some will have you running to your journal. But they are a mix of really good ballads, awesome hits, and just great songs to sing for whatever reason.

Somehow these songs made their mark on my mountain road trip so I compiled them as I went along so that I could put together this playlist for my (and your) future enjoyment. Click here for the full playlist on youtube, feel free to jump straight to an individual song below, or scroll down for the playlist embedded in this post.

What would you add to my mountain playlist? Have any faves from this list?

Let me know!

Airbnb Journey: The Trendy Bungalow In NC

It was nearing the end of 2020.  The lease to my apartment was coming to an end, and I truly didn’t want to renew.  I had been house-hunting for a place to rent, and it seemed like rental inventory was at a standstill due to the pandemic.  Time was winding down, I was getting stressed out, and almost as a joke, I said to my boyfriend… “What if we just put our stuff in storage and Airbnb it for a while?”

We kinda laughed and it seemed like a far-fetched, ridiculous idea, until it wasn’t. 

I mean…why not…right??

We were teleworking for the indefinite future, and all we needed was a secure internet connection somewhere in the US.  The more we thought about it, the more we realized…if we can’t go to restaurants and socialize and be around people, if we aren’t going to the office and really have no place to be…why not be somewhere else?  We can be holed up in a house somewhere warmer, somewhere quieter, somewhere different! 

So that’s what we did!  When we packed up our apartment, crammed everything into a storage unit, and embarked on this Airbnb journey, which we have been on for almost 8 months now. 

When we began, we really didn’t know what to expect.  We knew we were super stressed after a really weird year.  We knew we’d be giving up something that was certain—an actual fixed address—for something that was uncertain.  We knew we’d be taking things a month at a time, looking for homes that fit our price range each month, and hoping that whatever place that we chose checked off all the boxes on our house wish list. 

And we knew that all we really wanted was peace.

We were in the midst of a pandemic which was super strange and scary, and we decided to give up our lease, which was so weird and terrifying.  We were going to be staying in places we weren’t too familiar with, after almost a year of being in lock-down mode, after dealing with a really heightened state of racial tensions and after a bizarre election cycle. We were venturing to another state with different COVID policies and possibly different feelings towards us for many reasons, primarily being racial and political. 

And to top it all off, after spending a year dealing with a horrible neighbor, we just craved calm. 

The first monthly home we selected on Airbnb was an adorable trendy farmhouse bungalow in Garner, NC.  Garner is a suburb located only a few short minutes from downtown Raleigh and it boasted of all shopping and dining conveniences. 

The home had three bedrooms and two bathrooms, it had been completely renovated and looked like something that would be featured on an HGTV show.  It also came with a basketball hoop and fire pit—more ways to decompress.  It was in a slightly warmer climate being four hours south.  It looked so peaceful and cute, and it seemed like the change of scenery that we needed.  It looked like the perfect place to hunker down and work for a month while we remained in lockdown. 

Did the home show as well as the pics…

When you book a place online, a certain excitement builds, right along with all types of expectations.  And you truly hope that the place lives up to the expectations that you have built up in your mind.  It’s one thing to book for a long weekend or a few days.  But we were going to be there for a month, and we had no place to go if this home sucked.  So we truly hoped that the home was exactly as the listing described.

When we pulled into the driveway and parked in the carport, we got kinda excited.  We walked into the home, and we were so pleasantly surprised!  You never know if pictures on the web prove to be accurate once you arrive at the property, but in this case, the home definitely lived up to the pictures. 

The open floor plan, the adorable touches, the perfect décor and furnishings…and the brand new modern bathrooms, the nice workspace, and the super clean bedrooms…it was just perfect.

There was an Aldi at the end of our street…we timed it and it was a 3-minute walk.  We loved it!

What did we do while we were in Raleigh…

Well…it was December/January 2020, the world was still in the middle of the pandemic.  There was no vaccine at this point.  Lots of things were closed.  Businesses truly suffered.  And our personal feeling was that we were not doing indoor dining at that time.  We were trying to just stick to grocery stores, Target occasionally, and a sporadic trip to Michaels or some store for crafts, puzzles, or other types of  entertainment.  So the few times we went out for entertainment, we walked around downtown Raleigh, we ventured to a couple of stores at the outlet mall, we found a whiskey bar that had firepits outside and went there a couple times. We socially distanced visited some relatives that lived in Durham, we visited a winery, we did an escape room, and we did lots of grub hub, curbside dining, cooking, and puzzles.  And we also took lots of walks around the neighborhood, especially to said Aldi at the end of the street. 

All in all, we truly loved this home.  It was exactly what we needed at the time that we needed it.  We did a lot of decompressing, we watched tv (ummm Bridgerton anyone!?), and we wrote.  I discovered my interest in making beaded jewelry, I wrote in my gratitude journal, and quite honestly, I stared out of the huge floor to ceiling windows quite a bit.  This was the most perfect home to kick off our journey! 

Here are a few other pics of our Garner bungalow:

Could you see yourself doing something like this? Would you try it? If so, where would you start?

Quick Micropost

That look when your to-do list is long af but you know you’re gonna be aight.

Y’all, I have so many things to do, but all I wanna do is drink iced coffee and watch indie movies. Being an adult is THE WORST! LOL. I mean…have y’all done your taxes?? Sigh…lol…

Please tell me I’m not alone! Anybody else be out here ignoring the real world like that actually works? Or just me? Lol.

I hate feeling like I should have everything together and just dont. I guess this is a different kind of imposter syndrome. Let me find my notebook and start writing my list. I have some work to do today so that I can enjoy my weekend. 

Happy Thursday, y’all! ✌
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#todolist #adulting #procrastination #thursdayvibes #overwhelmed #planyourwork #getworkdone #goalsetter #goaldigger #goalgetting #airbnblife #sunshinestate #kissimee #indiemovies #tubi #marylandgirl #impostersyndrome #wanderer  #myinstadiary #microblogger #microinflluencer #discoverunder1k

Oops I Broke Something: Airbnb Mishaps

Things happen.  We are all human.  And just as I accidentally break things in my own home from time to time, obviously things can happen in the Airbnb homes that I rent as well.  I do try to specifically and intentionally be extremely careful as an Airbnb guest, because I really do not want to have to spend money replacing things and I don’t want a bad rating. 

But…life happens.  Things get damaged, things get broken, it happens.

Luckily, so far, I haven’t broken or damaged anything major. And **fingers crossed** it stays that way.

So the question is—as a guest, what do you do if you break or damage something?

I actually find that the answer is really simple. 

Do as you’d want someone to do if they broke an item in your home.  In my opinion, that really only leaves three choices.

  1. Fix it.
  2. Replace it.
  3. Notify the host of the damage.

Or possibly a combination of all three.

Here are a couple of real-world examples from my Airbnb adventures of times when things got damaged, and how I handled them.

Fix it.  It was literally the first home on my adventure.  I hadn’t even checked in yet.  It was well after 10pm when I had pulled into the driveway, opened the trunk to my car, and out tumbled a bottle of red wine.  It hit the ground so hard and so fast.  The bottle shattered, and red wine went all over the driveway.  I wasn’t sure if it would stain the ground and I really didn’t want THIS to be my first impression in my first Airbnb home.  I was exhausted from a long day and long drive.  All I wanted to do was get inside, shower, and go to bed.  It was late and I couldn’t even see because it was dark, I hadn’t even opened the door to the home, and I was nervous that neighbors would think I was trying to break into a home that I didn’t belong in.  But I knew that I would feel horrible if on day 1, I stained the driveway.  Despite exhaustion, I searched.  In the dark I was able to find the hose, wash down the driveway, collect the glass, and get everything cleaned up.  WHEW!!!  All was fixed, and all was well.  And now I can check into the home and hit the sheets.

Replace it.  I will say this. I do feel like there are times that some hosts just leave old dishes they no longer want, for their guests to use.  Knowing that dishes are not clean, kinda rusty, or downright unusable, they still stick them in cabinets and drawers, so that they can check the box stating that they have a stocked kitchen.  Or it could be that previous guests jacked the dishes up and maybe the host hasn’t realized it. Whatever the case, it’s a little gross and kinda irritating.  But we make do.  We wash everything super well before we use them, and we line the dishes that we can with aluminum foil when we cook in them.  In one home, we used a well-worn baking sheet left by the host. We lined it with foil and cooked our dinner.  When we pulled the sheet out of the oven, it was burned too bad to continue to use.  The foil had burned through, and had welded itself onto the crud that was already on the baking sheet.  Though we didn’t feel like it was our fault, because the thing was crusty to begin with, we still opted to purchase a new set of cookie sheets.  We left one sheet at the home to replace the sheet that was no longer usable, and we kept one for our travels.  Though we didn’t feel like we should have felt obligated to replace it, we felt like it was easier to replace it without risking a misunderstanding that resulted in a bad rating from the host.  At the end of the day, it was $10 and it wouldn’t break us.

Notify the host.  At the home in Frederick, one day we looked and just realized the inside of the comforter had a huge rip.  We have NO idea how it got there.  We don’t know if it was there before we arrived and we just hadn’t noticed.  Or whether we damaged the comforter ourselves and just didn’t realize it.  We had a choice to make.  Ignore it entirely and pretend we didn’t see it, or notify the host.  I did what I would want someone to do if I were the host and they were staying at my home.  We contacted the host and explained what we noticed. We asked if he preferred that we pay for it or buy another comforter to replace it.  We realize that an Airbnb home is not the Marriott.  The hosts aren’t sitting around with clean replacement bed linens just waiting to be called into service.  I knew there was a chance that the host had potential guests lined up to move in immediately after I checked out, and they may not have had time to search for a new set before new guests arrived.  I didn’t want to put them into a situation where they were unprepared for incoming guests.  I also didn’t want them to sacrifice their rating by providing (unbeknownst to them) torn linens to guests.  Ultimately, I sent the host a note and asked if they wanted us to reimburse them for the comforter, or if they preferred that we go out and buy a replacement comforter set.  They asked that we replace it, and we did just that.  Was it our fault or our obligation to replace it?  I’m not really sure.  Should they have a line item in their budget that accounts for guest mishaps?  Yes, absolutely.  But at the end of the day, it wasn’t a huge deal to us.  My boyfriend and I split the cost, we found something comparable, and moved on with our lives. We felt this was the easiest way, even if the onus wasn’t necessarily on us to replace the comforter set.

If you rent an Airbnb, or another vacation home, keep in mind that things happen. Items get worn out, things break, things get damaged. Just be honest about it, and handle it the way you’d like others to handle it if it was your item that was torn, damaged, or broken.

Have you ever had a mishap at an Airbnb? What did you do about it? If you’re a host, how would you like a guest to handle an incident in your home?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.