What do a beachfront hut in Bali, a private room in Marrakesh and a loft in Florence have in common? Airbnb. The purveyor of unforgettable trips. Each distinctive location is available through the online platform that has ruled the short-term rental industry for more than a decade.
While you may find the experience of a lifetime during your travels, thanks to the many options available during your booking process, there's one thing you must do before you check out or your trip could quickly turn into your worst nightmare.
It’s not easy to think beyond the relaxing days and fun-filled nights before you. Nevertheless, don't skip this essential step when you're a guest with any short-term rental company, including Airbnb’s competitors, HomeAway and VRBO. Here’s what you need to know.
Check out list
Airbnb doesn't provide a comprehensive checkout policy for all its listed properties, which is understandable considering they have over six million listings worldwide. This lack of a corporate checkout list leaves the property hosts to create their own for which guests need to follow or could face additional fees determined by the host.
To give you an idea of what to expect on your to-do list when checking out, here are a few standard elements that appear across all rental properties. This list is by no means exhaustive and may vary according to your host(s).
- Place any dirty towels and linens in the designated area.
- Take out trash to a specified location.
- Check to make sure you left nothing behind.
- Lock property and return keys.
- Leave a review.
After researching checkout list examples, templates, suggestions and recommendations from other rental property hosts, nowhere could we find a list that included a warning that the guest must log out of any online or streaming service accounts before checking out.
Things to consider before logging into your online accounts
Although you may not think logging out of your accounts as a big deal, consider the following scenarios:
- Chances are you will be accessing the internet via a public Wi-Fi when you are in your short-term rental. Whatever information you share online is vulnerable and within reach of cybercriminals utilizing some know-how and a bit of software.
- If the rental property’s Wi-Fi is private, think about all those who have stayed before you. Who’s to say a guest wasn’t nefarious and modified the router to redirect web traffic to his or her computer? There would be no visible damage to the router’s case and it could remain undetected for years, allowing the offender to steal information from hundreds, if not thousands, of guests.
- Your passwords, name, address and credit card information all up for grabs either by the initial thief or those on the dark web willing to pay. All because you neglected to log out of your accounts during checkout. In reality, it’s more likely a result of you not taking precautions before you logged in!
Sign out before you check out
Logging into your online accounts for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and other sites and services during your stay, regardless of which scenario you find yourself in, could open up your information to hackers.
However, signing out of all devices under each account upon checkout will help minimize further exposure. (Note: It is recommended you review your accounts after your trip and change your password as soon as possible after logging out.)
Ways to protect your data
Of course, there are a few ways to protect your information while at a short-term rental. You can go off the grid and avoid using the internet during your stay. As an alternative, you can enable your mobile device as a Wi-Fi hotspot at the expense of your cellular data.
Another option is to utilize a VPN or Virtual Private Network. One significant advantage of using a VPN, such as ExpressVPN, is all communications are encrypted and indecipherable by cybercriminals and government spy agencies, alike.
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