Christopher Elliott is a consumer advocate and travel expert. He travels around the globe with his 3 school-age children researching stories for his columns. Recently he posted an open letter to his children apologizing for some to the AWFUL places they have stayed with Airbnb, Vacation Rentals by Owner and other online short-term hotel alternatives. And he gives some hard learned tips on how you can avoid the same pitfalls.
especially interested in the story of the rental that had roaches crawling over
every surface. They were in the cabinets, on the dishes and eating utensils, as
well as bathrooms and dresser drawers. Big EWWW!!!
It is safe
to assume the owner did not have reliable pest control. It made me think about
what I would do in that situation. In this case, the owner was unresponsive and
there was no other place for them to stay at that particular moment. So, what
would I do? And what should you do??
Once you’re over the
fact you will be cleaning someone else’s property, the first thing would be to
either hand wash or use the dishwasher to clean and sanitize anything you are
going to eat off of. Empty the drawers and wipe them down with a disinfecting
cleaner. Then find the vacuum. Thoroughly vacuum cracks and crevices, behind
appliances – especially the stove and refrigerator, and then do the same with
the rest of the home. Proper vacuuming can remove up to 80 percent of the
insects and make managing the rest much easier. Dispose of the contents of the
bag outside immediately. The advantage of cleaning a vacation rental over your
own home is the house is pretty much empty. This makes the task much easier!
If there is a store close by, get lots of glue boards and put
them around. You might be surprised how many of the pests you can catch. Place
them behind appliances (see a theme here?) and other areas where you are
unlikely to step on them and replace them if they get full. DON’T use over the
counter sprays as it just scatters the bugs.
Mr. Elliott says you should always read the fine print in the ad to look for clues about what you may be getting into. And check those one-star reviews. It’s true; some people are hard to please and may post a poor review over something petty. So look for a pattern. Use Google Earth Street View and aerial views to see what the neighborhood really looks like. Remember, a description that says “quaint” may actually mean rundown or worse! And if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.