10 Things You Must Do Every Time You Walk Into an Airbnb

Taking these steps can minimize risk during your next vacation rental.

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Updated May 28, 2024
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Checking into an Airbnb means trusting a host with your safety. Unlike a hotel, you probably won’t have a maintenance team or front desk staff available 24/7.

Recent incidents of carbon monoxide poisoning and the use of hidden cameras at Airbnbs have some guests wondering how to ensure their stay is safe and uneventful.

Fortunately, the following simple safety checks can help you avoid wasting money and minimize other potential dangers.

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Look at reviews and ratings

insta_photos/Adobe businesswoman looking at laptop

Before arriving at the property, check the ratings for the listing and the host.

BnbDuck.com recommends looking for ratings above 4.8 and choosing a property with more than 50 ratings from separate guests.

Scan the actual reviews and look for red flag words that indicate a setting or area might not be safe.

Ask how often the lock code is changed

Angelov/Adobe woman locking smartlock

Many Airbnbs have an automatic lock system or electronic lockbox that requires entering a code to open the doors. It’s quick and easy to remember just a few digits rather than keeping track of a key.

But how many people have used this code before you? Ask the Airbnb host how often the code changes or request your custom code.

Check for cameras

Miljan Živković/Adobe senior man holding surveillance camera

Airbnb hosts are prohibited from having hidden cameras, and indoor security cameras are prohibited globally for all properties.

Airbnb previously permitted cameras in common areas like living rooms and hallways but not in private areas such as bedrooms and bathrooms. But recent updates now mean they aren't allowed inside at all starting April 30, regardless of their location or purpose.

When you arrive, take a closer look at areas where a camera could be mounted.

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Check smoke detectors and look for fire extinguishers

ronstik/Adobe woman check the fire extinguisher

Smoke detectors may seem like a bare-minimum safety protocol, but don’t simply assume they’re present. You might find additional comfort in traveling with your own battery-operated smoke detector.

Your Airbnb listing may note that it has a smoke detector, but it’s still worth checking to see that it’s functioning correctly.

Additionally, check for a fire extinguisher in case a fire does break out.

Double-check the locks

naka/Adobe man doing inspection

Go around to each window and door and make sure the locks are secure and working correctly.

There could be multiple points of entry throughout the property, so you want to ensure that each and every one is keeping you safe.

Confirm there are carbon monoxide detectors

Andrey Popov/Adobe repairman installing smoke detector

In addition to a smoke detector, confirm that a carbon monoxide detector is present. Carbon monoxide is not something you can see or smell, which makes it incredibly dangerous.

A carbon monoxide detector is the only way to stay alert. Again, you might consider buying your own portable detector for travel.

Scan the property for emergency exits

Sunny studio/Adobe family on vacation

At home, you know where you would go if a fire or another emergency broke out. At your Airbnb, familiarize yourself with entrances and exits in the same way.

Additionally, if you’re traveling with children, make sure they know where these emergency exits are, especially if they’re staying in a separate room.

Check expiration dates on food

KOTO/Adobe woman with digital tablet

Finding food left by a host is a welcome treat, particularly if you like milk in your coffee or want to grab a granola bar before exploring.

But check the expiration dates on any food items in an Airbnb before you indulge.

Confirm there's a safe available

New Africa/Adobe woman putting money into steel safe

Whenever you check into an Airbnb, confirm that there's a safe or secure place to store valuables. Your computer, camera, passport, wallet, fine jewelry, and other valuable items should go there.

If no safe is available, consider bringing a portable safe with you.

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Bring your own door lock

DragonImages/Adobe woman setting home security system

Even if there’s an electronic lockbox and the host has told you that the lock is changed between guests, bringing your own lock can give you peace of mind.

Portable door locks are inexpensive and simple to install and provide an added layer of protection.

Bottom line

Elnur/Adobe old man preparing for trip

While you hope that an Airbnb host always has your best interest in mind, it’s your responsibility to mitigate risk and ensure that you have a safe stay.

If you run into red flags as you go through the checklist, communicate your concerns to the host, reach out to Airbnb for support, and always put your safety first.

Performing due diligence can keep you safe and lower your financial stress by preventing you from choosing the wrong Airbnb.

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Heather Bien

Heather Bien is a writer covering personal finance and budgeting and how those relate to life, travel, entertaining, and more. With bylines that include The Spruce, Apartment Therapy, and mindbodygreen, she's covered everything from tax tips for freelancers to budgeting hacks to how to get the highest ROI out of your home renovations.