I've traveled to a lot of safe places. I've also traveled to places that didn’t exactly have the best reputations, but whenever possible, I prefer to stay in private homes listed on Airbnb.
I've been using Airbnb for five years now and have never once had a bad experience. Sure, Airbnb horror stories seem to circulate mainstream news sources; however, maybe hotels are just better at covering up the bad stories related to them.
Here’s my hotel horror story:
This October I married the love of my life and traveled to Malta, Sicily, and Rome for our honeymoon. Instead of using Airbnbs (my normal style of travel), we opted to stay in hotels because of the convenience, daily room cleaners, and the overall amenities that four and five star hotels offer honeymooners.
The start of the honeymoon was great: From swimming in the Mediterranean, to eating the daily catch fish every night, to visiting the historic sites of Malta and Sicily, we couldn’t have asked for a better situation.
Long story, short: After a day out exploring the beautiful markets and churches of Palermo, the capital city of Sicily, we came back to our cleaned room to relax. Nothing seemed out of place...until my wife started to get ready for dinner and was deciding what jewelry to wear.
As the daughter of jewelry store owners (which is a nice benefit for a son-in-law), my wife has a handful of very nice pieces of jewelry. She can also sometimes think things are missing—even when they’re not. This time, however, things were different.
As we looked through pocket after pocket, nothing turned up. Did we just misplace a few pieces? Or could her jewelry have been stolen?
We knew for sure that the items were stolen when we found an empty necklace box that was (supposed to be) containing a silver necklace purchased for my mother-in-law. The box was empty but carefully re-wrapped and placed back in my wife’s bag in hopes that she wouldn’t notice.
All in all, about 15 pieces of jewelry were stolen from a pocket in her backpack. While most were costume jewelry, there were a few items that were significantly more valuable and well worth making a fuss over.
We spent the next hours reporting the robbery to the hotel staff (who could not believe their employees would do such a thing) followed by a several hour visit to the police and investigator’s office sharing our story back and forth via Google Translate and searching Facebook for photos of the missing jewelry.
The investigators seemed to take the matter quite seriously, sending four investigators to the hotel that night and again the following day. The next morning was spent in a lawyer’s office trying to figure out our options for recovering my wife's belongings either physically or monetarily.
To say the least, it was not the ideal setting for a honeymoon.
Being in the vacation rental business, I'm certainly biased towards the use and promotion of vacation rentals and Airbnbs, but I hope that our story can help others realize some of the other benefits of participating in the sharing economy. Never before had I realized that staying in an Airbnb may in fact be safer than staying in a hotel—mainly because of privacy. When you stay in an Airbnb, you don’t have staff regularly coming in and out of your room (which ironically was one of the reasons we chose to use hotels this time).
If you've ever been robbed before, I’m sure you understand the violation you feel when you realize other people have gone through your things. And as much as I love the sharing economy, I love not sharing my family’s belongings with thieves.