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Category: Travel

The Problem With Airbnb

Airbnb has some major problems and it’s not one fix or leaky faucet they can just plug up. It’s a widespread set of issues that affect the foundation of the company. But there are some potential solutions, so here are some recommendations on how Airbnb can fix itself.

Some Of The Problems

From discrimination against people of color, who statistically have a harder time successfully booking properties to price gouging in Mexico City, prompting residents to protest, to users being banned from the site for incorrect background check results. It’s gotten pretty bad in general and using Airbnb is a really hit or miss experience so much so that I try to avoid using it when I’m traveling now.

prague skyline

I’m sure a lot of you too are looking at hotels or other alternatives because they often have better service, competitive prices, and a lot less of the weird random trouble that can come from an Airbnb.

A Situation

I needed to book a few days in Istanbul as a stop gap between apartments and ended up paying around very overpriced $1300 for a week’s stay. But when I got to the apartment it was unbelievably dirty, there was hair all over the bathroom, rotting food in the kitchen, and black mold on the walls. As soon as I was able to book alternative accommodation – I notified Airbnb and the owner I would be leaving, why I was leaving, with photos, and requested a refund.

I had stayed a night there I didn’t request a full refund, even though the apartment was so falsely advertised I should have, I didn’t. And you might be wondering why I waited to book alternative accommodation? Because with almost any Airbnb booking, you don’t know the reaction you’re going to get if you try to cancel early. The owner might have gotten pissed off and thrown me out or locked me out or who knows?

Airbnb, because of how their refunding system works, basically forces you into a negotiation with the owner, mediated by them, for refunds. This process is usually over email, through their support center, since many countries don’t have a local office number you can all.

In the end, my $1100 refund was rejected and the owner offered $800.

Let’s Work On Aircover

Since then, Airbnb has tried to counter these instant regret situations with what they call Aircover. It basically gives you a refund for reservations canceled by owners within 30 days of your stay, and if the place is dirty, you can report it within 72 hours.


So, it’s a tiny start but in practice to make Aircover actually useful, Airbnb needs to do the following:

1. Offer full refunds or alternative accommodation if owners cancel within 90 days of a booking. Right now, it’s only 30 days out. Some cities during peak tourism season are hard to find Airbnbs or there might be an event like the World Cup where 30 days out finding alternative accommodation might not be possible. A refund for an Airbnb isn’t going to do you much good if you can’t go to the event but have already paid for flights, and event tickets, taken time off work, and so on.

2. Give you the option to get a full refund within 24 hours if the apartment isn’t as advertised or is significantly dirty or not adequately prepared for a guest.

Obviously you’ll still have to collect the evidence, photos, and videos for Airbnb to review but if there legitimately is an issue, it shouldn’t require a fight with Airbnb over it. And a simple refund of the cleaning fee just won’t cut it. While we’re talking about cleaning fees, those need to be fixed as well.

Strike System

Another thing Airbnb can do to discourage dirty or improperly prepared Airbnbs, is to fine the owners. See, right now as it is, if you arrive at a dirty Airbnb, you’ll get a partial refund, maybe even a full refund. Assuming you can find alternative accommodation. But Airbnb still gets their fees, the homeowner at worst breaks even, but there’s not monetary penalty to a host. In fact, that same nightmare Airbnb I was in is still listed on the site.

home restaurant

Maybe they cleaned up their act – maybe it was just a really bad day? In any even there should be a penalty as well as a strike system.

Anytime there’s a valid complaint against a host or listing, there should be a strike assigned. And those strikes should be listed in the reviews. That way you would have the reviews but also see if and how many times disciplinary action was taken against a particular place by Airbnb. Right now, the review sections are usually a few good short reviews and maybe the occasional long 300 word horror story. It’s hard to know what to make out of those reviews because the others, the majority, of people were positive so perhaps you discount that one bad one.

But an Airbnb strike, that would show that disciplinary action was taken against the host, and protect you the consumer from giving business to a bad host and also incentivize hosts to maintain high standards of cleanliness and quality.

Hotels Caught Up

When Airbnb was first gaining traction it had some real perks. First, there was the novelty of various places, a more home-like feel, and prices were often lower than hotels. Now, hotels have adapted – they’re pricing more competitively, offering unique perks and touches to make rooms feel more inviting, and in many places are better regulated.

Airbnb has gone from an agile individual-based startup to a big lumbering corporation but without any of the sensible services the legacy competition can offer, big or small.

Does Airbnb survive? Probably, but for travelers like you and me, there are a lot of competing apartment services for longer term rentals out there and hotels around the world that are looking like a very good alternative to Airbnb – until (and if) Airbnb decides to fix their broken system.

Aer Travel Pack 3 Review: Two Steps Forward But One Back

The Aer Travel Pack 2 is the backpack I’ve been using and traveling with for years, but it’s not a perfect bag. It has some design choices that make it a confused crossover between a one-travel bag and a travel-tech backpack. But the Aer Travel Pack 3, improves upon the 2, and moves it closer to a travel backpack. Still, for all it’s improvements, the Travel Pack 3 has some new drawbacks.

Sizing Them Up

On the outside the Travel Pack 3 looks a lot like the 2 but this time has a little more depth adds some more space, totaling a 35 liter capacity compared to the 33 liters of the previous version. The Aer Travel Pack 3 has gained some weight too, coming in at 1.87 kilos, about 200 grams from the previous version.

aer travel pack 3

Aer also make an X-Pac version of the travel pack 3, which basically swaps out the nylon exterior with a water proof material made from sail cloth. The X-pac version is a bit lighter, but also a bit more expensive. If you’re traveling to places where you’ll be taking this bag out in the elements often – or hanging out in Southeast Asia where there are frequent downpours, the X-Pac version might be worth considering. Otherwise the regular travel pack 3, although not waterproof, is solidly water resistant and can handle a decent amount of rain from time to time.

The weight difference between the Travel Pack 2 and the 3 is surprisingly noticeable when you pick this bag up. Though there’s only 200 grams difference the Travel Pack 3 just feels weightier and more solid.

A Look Inside

1680D Cordura is used for the exterior, a very strong fabric that’s a bit heavier than alternatives but is incredibly durable. You’ve got YKK zippers, basically considered the gold standard of zippers. They’re thick, easy to open and close, and don’t snag or get struck. Some of the zipper pulls are longer, but the ones for the smaller pockets aren’t as dangly, and a bit less in the way. But either way, like the rest of the Aer Travel Pack 3, the zippers are made to last.

aer travel pack 3

Inside the Travel Pack 3, the basic design is roomy. There’s a large main compartment for the bulk of your gear. It’s very spacious and if you travel with a lot of stuff, whether it’s camera gear, drones, or an extra jacket, the travel pack 3 will have space for it. In the main compartment you have a small zippered pocket for papers, or a passport, or any other thin items. Up top the cutout of the small upper pocket and behind that a little elastic pouch, perfect for an AirTag.

Who’s This Back For?

Now, if you’re already using the Aer Travel Pack 2 though, I would say the improvements aren’t enough to justify upgrading and you might not like some of the tradeoffs or design changes. But if you’re looking for a large backpack for travel – one that’s pretty much at the maximum size most airlines will accept for carry on, then the Aer Travel Pack 3 is a good one to look at.

Singapore Becomes A Back To Back Best City To Visit Travel Tournament Champion!

best city to visit travel tournament 2023

In a wild Best City To Visit Travel Tournament, Singapore was able to fend off a late comeback attempt by surprise challenger Helsinki. The Finnish supporters fought a great tournament, making it past favorites like Seville and Wellington. In the end though, it was Singapore’s year to shine, with 71% of your votes. It’s a poetic victory since I didn’t get to visit Singapore during the last tournament because of the pandemic. Now, Singapore shows again why it’s so popular and I’ll see you there later this year!

  • Congratulations to Lauren, who nominated Singapore and wins the $1000 prize!

Thank you everyone who voted, shared, and participated during The Best City to Visit Travel Tournament this year. To nominate a city in next year’s tournament be sure to subscribe to my newsletter. I’ve also got one of our final tournament live streams coming up this weekend, stop by and say hi – there will be prizes there too!

Let me know if you’ll be around in Singapore sometime in 2023 – we might just cross paths – and if you have any suggestions on things to do, share them in the comments below!

The Best City To Visit 2023 Travel Tournament: Defending Singapore Takes On Cinderella Helsinki

best city 2023 championship

The Best City to Visit Travel Tournament Final Four was a wild ride with both Singapore and Helsinki coming from behind to clinch a spot in the Championship. Now we’ve got the previous champ from the pre-pandemic days, Singapore, versus the very unlikely Helsinki, making its debut entry into the final round. Your votes will decide which will be named the 2023 Best City to Visit, who wins $1000, and where I’ll be going later this year.

  • You have until next Wednesday, April 5th 11:59pm US EST (-5 GMT) to vote.

Good luck to both of these very deserving cities! I’m the official tie-breaker in case both cities end up with the same number of votes. Remember, the winner will be announced next Thursday, April 5th!

The Best City To Visit Travel Tournament Is Down To A Strange Final Four

Take all of your predictions and throw them out the door because we’ve got two champions in the Final Four of the Best City to Visit Travel Tournament! Former champs Porto absolutely smashed Bilbao and Singapore edged Tokyo but surprise entry Helsinki and quiet Edinburgh want to spoil their plans. Your votes determine which two cities advance to the Championship!

  • You have until next Wednesday, March 29th 11:59pm US EST (-5 GMT) to vote.

I’m the official tie-breaker in every round in case any two cities end up with the same number of votes. Remember, the Championship begins next Thursday, March 30th! Good luck everyone and everywhere!

The Best City To Visit Travel Tournament 2023 Elite 8: Favorites Collide!

A battle of big clashes have brought us all a unique group of favorites and small city powerhouses. Bilbao has quietly made it to the round of 8, while Tokyo had the biggest showing in the last round. Former champions Porto and Singapore are both still in the running while Montevideo doesn’t want you to forget about South America. We have only 8 cities left in the t0urnament and your votes over the next week decide who will advance!

  • You have until next Wednesday, March 22nd 11:59pm US EST (-5 GMT) to vote.

I’m the official tie-breaker in every round in case any two cities end up with the same number of votes. Remember, the next round of Final Four begins next Thursday, March 23rd! Good luck everyone and everywhere!

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More

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