Throughout our European tour, the children and I have (and will) sleep in many types of accommodations. Some have been great, others have been disasters — Airbnb disasters, in this case.
As a personal rule, I try to book houses within the budget that include a kitchen — both for additional room and to save money on food. We have loved staying in hostels, rented rooms in communal homes and farms, and even rented hammocks. We only stay in hotels for one or two nights max, though we like studio apartment hotels. We’ve even looked into couch sleeping in the more expensive cities.
We’ve used Airbnb to help us find accommodations in all of these cities, and it doesn’t always work out well! Now that this particular experience is behind us, I feel as though the only proper closure is to write about it and share what I learned with all of you.
Airbnb Gone Wrong
All of those experiences — the hostels to the hammocks — had wonderful pros and huge cons. That just comes with the territory. Even if you make tons of money and only stay in hotels, it is human nature to find something negative about it. You will and that’s OK, but out of all of the accommodations to date (including a million accommodations in the U.S.), our worst experience has been the house in Heraklion, Crete. I’m going to make a list, as it is easier to prepare; it is long. I recommend popcorn. Front loading the information, I was supposed to live in this place from April 9th to June 21st. . .
Accommodations Were Very Poor
- Two hours into arrival, I sent the host a message kindly asking if she could bring by more towels and pillows because I could not find ANY in the house. There were NONE! She was super annoyed, but brought them by.
- On our first full day, about four inches of sewage flooded the entire bottom floor living space. We were stranded in the kitchen (it was elevated) and could not leave. The host thought I was being dramatic and said she would come to check after work (except we needed to leave the kitchen). Long story short, a repairman came to fix it, and she expected me to mop it up so she could return to work. Um, no…I cannot unpack, go to the market, take care of three kids, and mop at the same time.
- Every, single drawer, closet, and dresser was packed with the host’s belongings. Everything from underwear and Christmas décor to sewing needles and candles — her stuff was in every available space. I had to move all of her things in order to unpack.
- Then the hot water stopped working.
- The washing machine worked great for a while, but then it stopped draining water.
- The WiFi only worked in one room. This seems shallow, I know, but for heaven’s sake I need it to work.
- In order to travel, I must cook most meals at home. This lodging was advertised as having a “fully loaded kitchen,” yet only contained one knife, three spoons, two forks, one pot, no lids, no frying pan, no mixer of any kind, no measuring devices, and no coffee pot. I was devastated. When I asked for a hand mixer and measuring cups, the owner was livid.
The Airbnb Got Worse
- Then there were the ants — constantly, for days. I paid my child lots of coins to be on ant-killing duty. I sprayed my first chemical since becoming a mother. Actually, I made my child do it because I couldn’t stand the idea of it, but we had to.
- Then, it got even better: mice. A mouse ran across my foot and behind my stove while I was cooking!
- Then, the light fixture in the kitchen blew up! When someone came to fix it, they left all of the old light bulbs and trash on the coffee table, and the baby ate part of a lightbulb. They were just so careless.
It was just nonstop, and there were way more issues than I ever could have imagined. But, in all things horrible, there are usually many positive things as well.
It Was Not All Bad
- It took us three weeks to leave because the location was superb. We could walk almost anywhere we needed to go. We got to know the people who worked near the house well and really loved the area we were in.
- I actually really loved the house itself. It had plenty of room, and the layout was quirky and fun. It just wasn’t well taken care of.
- I believe the owners to be good people. They tried, not hard, but they tried. I do not fully understand how they acquired the house, but it appeared as if they just didn’t know what they are doing. I would love to show them some grace, but three weeks was enough, and for the price and the safety of the kids, I just won’t.
Airbnb Can Be Wonderful
Please do not read this and think that all Airbnb establishments are inadequate. We have stayed in some amazing homes with the help of Airbnb, HomeAway, and other companies. When choosing a place to stay, read all of the reviews (even though they didn’t help in this particular situation).
Ask questions! For example, it is very important to me that a supermarket and a beach or playground are within walking distance if I’m staying more than just a couple of days.
I have discovered that there are a lot of important details that I was not aware of before traveling. The biggest three that come to mind are the abilities of the washing machine, hot water tank, and WiFi. Also, do not be afraid to offend people. There is no need to be rude, but keep in mind that this is a lucrative business for them and not necessarily a home they are attached to.
When sleeping in unfamiliar places, try to remember that no matter what your living situation is right now, there are and will be positive and negative aspects to anywhere you stay. The true travel trick is to not let the negatives affect the wonderful things you came to see. Leave enough space to round out your experience.
Photo Credits: Lydia Bradbury