What to do When Your Accommodation Sucks?

When Things Go Wrong

Imagine this scenario. You often spend significant time planning a trip. You research the best place to stay, the most fun hostels, most comfortable hotel beds, and best Airbnb location. Then when you arrive and realize your accommodation is nothing like you expected it would be. What do you do then?

This list of the most common issues with accommodation and what to do if one of these problems happens to you should help put your mind at ease.

1. Noisy Neighbors

Nothing ruins a good night’s sleep like noise. Maybe you are staying in a hostel and your roommates are up all night talking or partying, or maybe your neighbors at a hotel have their TV turned up as loud as it goes. Whatever the reason, noise can be incredibly annoying, especially after a long day of travel.

One way to deal with this issue is to plan ahead and bring along noise-canceling headphones or earbuds. These don’t work for everyone, as they can feel uncomfortable, but they can help cancel out the noise from the loud snorer above you.

Kid covering his ears
Kid covering his ears

Don’t have anything to cancel out the noise? If you are in a hostel, try to calmly speak with the people making noise and ask if they would mind moving to the common room. This can be intimidating, but sometimes it can be a lifesaver. Don’t argue with anyone who is being overly aggressive or rude in ignoring your request. If things are really bad, go speak with the front desk, they may be able to move you to another room or speak with the others. Remember though, that noise is part of what you sign up for when you book a hostel, so try to be realistic.

If you are at a hotel and the noise is unbearable, you can go speak with the hotel staff. This is easier than in a hostel because it is more anonymous. They may also be able to offer you a new room.

2. Infestation

A bug or rodent infestation is probably the worst possible scenario to face when you are traveling. There is nothing more disgusting!

The most common issue with an infestation is bedbugs. Actually, bedbugs are probably much more common in hotel rooms and hostels than you would think. While it may sound ridiculous, the first thing you should do is try to prevent getting bitten in the ass (literally!). When you first get to your room, do a quick check of the mattress (under all sheets and padding) and see if you see any crawlers. Pay close attention to any creases and the area along the headboard. This only takes a minute and can save you a huge headache, or worse, an infection.

If you find yourself getting bitten anyways, or you see any other creatures wandering around your room, you should immediately contact management. Unfortunately, in most countries (unless you are lucky enough to be in a country where the law protects against unsanitary conditions, which are few and far between) there is no obligation that the hotel refund you for this situation, but you may be able to at the very least switch rooms or, in the best circumstances, have them book you in a different hotel (note that this is rare).

Bed bug
Bed bug

If you get bitten by bedbugs, take your clothes and backpack to a laundry mat, if you can find one and wash everything and, more importantly, run everything through a high heat dryer. This may seem like overkill, but bedbugs can get everywhere! You will not regret spending some time to get everything bug free, particularly if you have long travels ahead of you!

Rodents are a bit more extreme and, in most cases, warrant the money you may spend to just change accommodation.

When you get home, make sure to write an honest review of the place you stayed, to spare others from having the same experience!

3. Dirty room

Less horrible than infestations, but oftentimes equally as gross, a dirty room can put a real damper on any vacation. You need to go into a room with a realistic mindset, taking into consideration the amount of money you have paid. That said, if your room is noticeably and abundantly dirty, you can and should raise a complaint with management. You may not be entitled to a refund, but they can at least offer you another room.

If you booked through a booking site or travel agency, take detailed pictures of the room to send to them when you get home. While no guarantee, you may be able to get some money back from them, as a goodwill gesture, so it is worth documenting the grossness.

Dirty room
Dirty room

While not ideal, you can also come prepared to make it through a night in a filthy room. Bring a sheet or small blanket to wrap around yourself while you sleep and a pillowcase to put on the pillow. Also, always bring a pair of sandals that you can wear when walking around the room and in the shower.

4. Reservation problems

Sometimes you plan everything ahead and have the perfect image of what your accommodation is going to look like and when you arrive, they don’t have any record of your reservation. This can be an issue with booking from a booking site, as sometimes your reservation will go missing or get lost in communication. Sometimes, though, this is the fault of the hotel because they have overbooked or they have some issues with the room you reserved.

Hotel front desk
Hotel front desk

Always bring proof of your reservation with you, so that you can show it to the hotel staff upon arrival. Unfortunately, if they have overbooked, you may have to change accommodation. In this case, though, you need to be refunded, if you have already paid. If you have not already paid, you may be out of luck, but the hotel should help you find another accommodation.

Try to get some sort of documentation that you were not able to stay at the hotel you booked, so that you can show it to the booking site or travel agent, who may be able to assist you in getting a refund if one was not offered to you at the hotel (again, if you already paid, the hotel should refund you). As with other issues, make sure you write a review when you get home, so that booking agencies take note, even if they don’t otherwise help you.

5. Theft from room

If you go out for the day and you come back and things that were in your room no longer are, you may have been a victim of hotel room theft. What you can do about it depends on where your hotel is located, as local laws vary tremendously. However, keep in mind that in most places, if your accommodation offers some sort of protection (think safe or locker) and you do not use it, they will most likely not be liable for any items you had stolen. The same can also be true if they gave you some sort of warning, in the form of a posting on the wall or another clear statement.

Regardless, make a report of the incident, not only to the staff but also to the local police and get a police report. Even if the hotel isn’t liable, you will probably be able to make a claim under your travel insurance. See making a travel claim for more information on how to handle that.

Cracking a door open
Cracking a door open

A small final note on this issue. Before causing a big scene and, more severe, getting the police involved, first make sure the item is actually stolen. Maybe you took your camera with you for the day but thought you left it behind. Or maybe you tucked some money in a hidden spot in your suitcase and you just aren’t remembering where you hid it. Theft is a crime and can cause people accused to face serious consequences, so make sure that you are certain you have been robbed, before accusing.

6. Safety issues

Occasionally when you are staying somewhere, you may just have a general feeling of uneasiness about the place. Maybe the neighborhood isn’t what you were expecting and is a bit dodgier than you thought, or maybe there are some people in the common areas that make you feel uncomfortable. handle that.

Bad hotel
Bad hotel

Your safety should always be a top priority, no matter where or how you are traveling. If you are by yourself, you should take particular caution with safety, but all travelers, even those traveling in a big group should take certain steps to make sure they stay safe while on the road.

First of all, if you feel totally unsafe somewhere, change accommodation. Often our gut feelings are the best indicators of something being dangerous. Otherwise, you should just take a few steps to keep yourself safe.

Try not to travel with tons of valuables. As tempting as it may be, traveling with fancy jewelry or expensive clothing is really not necessary. These things only draw attention to you and make people in hotels or hostels more interested in what else you may have.

Store your valuables properly when you leave your room. Actually, hotel safes are not always the safest option, as they can be easily broken into or taken right out of the room and, when locked, may actually draw more attention to the fact that you have something valuable to store. Keep the most valuable things you have on you and things you don’t want to carry around properly stored or hidden. Get creative, there are tons of unique ways to hide things! Maybe stuff your money in the deodorant bottom, or your phone covered within underwear.

Never say your room number out loud in public places and don’t bring along any papers that show your room number. Keep the keys you are given in a safe spot when you are out, so they can’t be stolen.

If you are staying in a hostel and you don’t feel comfortable with someone in the room, you can ask to switch rooms. Keep an open mind though, because sometimes first impressions can be deceiving and most people you will come across are pretty chill. Remember that everyone in that room has their own possessions and most people will treat your stuff with the same respect they would like their things to be treated with.

Speak with the front desk if you think you are staying in a shady neighborhood. Ask them what the best way to get around is, especially if you are headed out at night. They should have a good idea of the safest places to go and the best ways to get where you need to be.

Finally, if you are traveling alone, check the traveling solo section to get a few more tips on staying safe.

7. Issues with Airbnb

Airbnb is extremely popular, and for good reason. As part of the sharing economy boom that is currently taking place, Airbnb lets you stay at someone’s home for a rate usually much cheaper than hotels and in a space more private than a hostel. This option does come with its own type of risks, however, which you should also keep in mind when booking and staying.

Common issues with Airbnb include:

  • Host not showing up or canceling last minute
  • Losing keys
  • Misleading advertisements
  • Broken fixtures
  • Rude or intrusive hosts
Meeting Airbnb host
Meeting Airbnb host

To protect against many of these things, you should spend some time doing a little research before you leave. First, make sure you read enough of the reviews that you can get an idea as to whether a place is legitimate or not. Also, only book places that have a number of pictures and a substantial number of reviews, if you want to best protect yourself. Check out the neighborhood and run a quick search to see if it is an area people recommend staying in.

Once you have booked, get to know the surrounding streets a bit online so that if something goes wrong you have an idea of where you can go while you sort it all out. For example, if your host doesn’t show up, know where there is a coffee shop or restaurant where you can ask to give them a call or simply wait it out if the host is running late.

Airbnb is better than hotels for helping you out when things go wrong and will give you refunds for many circumstances. However, you should always try to first sort everything out with the host directly. If things aren’t working or you lose a key, call the host. You should also always carry around the host’s number and name, in case you need to get a hold of them in or out of the apartment or home.

If your host can’t help or your issue is with the host, document everything and contact AirBnB as soon as possible. You may be entitled to some refund, or they can help you get set up somewhere else, oftentimes covering any difference in price.

Finally, as with all our recommendations, reviews are essential. Airbnb works because of reviews, so always write a detailed, honest review of wherever you stayed and your host. Not only is this helpful to fellow travelers, the site also pays attention and may reach out to you if you honestly describe any issues that you had.

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