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Travel Tip: How to Decipher AirBnB Listings

If you’ve ever rented a place through AirBnB or similar vacation rental site and been disappointed at what the place actually was once you got there, this post is for you. While people renting their homes aren’t always honest in their listings, sometimes you have to read between the lines to glean what they’re really trying to say.

1. “Right in the Center of the Action”

It sounds great in theory, doesn’t it? You want to step outside of your AirBnB rental and be surrounded by activity and things to do. Right?

What I’ve found is that this often is code for “the place gets noisy.”

Maybe it’s above a bar or restaurant, the way the studio apartment I rented in Santa Monica was. With no air conditioning, we had to open the windows all night…and let the cackles from the late-night drinkers filter up into our sensitive ears.

2. “It’s Cozy”

Pay careful attention to how many bedrooms a place lists, as opposed to how many beds. You’ll see people trying to get away with accommodating 8 people…in a studio. All they have to do is pull out some air mattresses and voila.

3. “It’s Rustic”

Heads up, folks. A “rustic” rental does not have wifi. It might not have a heater or air conditioner, and it might not even have an indoor toilet. Consider it one step up from camping.

4. “It’s Secluded”

The opposite of #1 is the “secluded” getaway. This place is far from anything. If you wanted to be within walking distance in your cute Provence rental, get ready for a hike. Always, always map out where the rental is and ask questions even if it looks close to civilization. Otherwise you might find yourself hiking down the side of a busy highway.

Beyond these code words, I have a few tips for renting on AirBnB.

  1. Read everything. You might find that amazing price for a Paris apartment is actually for a room in a Paris apartment.

  2. Look at it on the map. If you want close proximity to restaurants or a grocery store, check Google Maps to see what’s close.

  3. Ask questions. I wanted a town in Provence with a train station so we could travel to other towns. I asked the rental owner and she suggested we have a car, because not many trains came through that town.

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