I am a bit of a Nervous Nellie. My mind tends to go to the worst case scenario right away. If I’m on a roller coaster, I’m thinking about the safety restraint malfunctioning. If I get a bug bite, I immediately assume I have bed bugs and will need to burn all of my belongings. If there is an unexpected meeting or closed door at work, I assume I’m being fired. It’s just how my brain works.
This means that I’m pretty careful when I travel. I’ve paid too much for a last minute hotel room after the one I booked online felt sketchy. I’ve never stayed in a hostel. And the only time I’ve stayed in an Airbnb/VRBO was when my mom booked one and I knew I was safe because my dad and brother were with me (Maybe that’s sexist? But I always feel safer with my brother around!) and when my friends booked one for Iceland, I was willing to just go with the plan and hope we’d be safe.
But for this trip, my sister and I knew we were going to be spending a lot of money so we decided to book an Airbnb in Vancouver and then a hostel in Whistler. “You need to stay in a hostel once in your life,” my sister (who backpacked through Europe and lived in hostels for three months) said. “Do it for the blog!”
We ended up booking an Airbnb that seemed perfect—a good location and reasonably priced. There was just one catch. It was new and had no reviews. Which we actually didn’t think too hard about until a week out. My sister started asking for instructions for when we arrived (very late) in Vancouver and the host was not super forthcoming. We got a lot of “Don’t worry, I will meet you and let you in” messages that were just grammatically incorrect enough to make you think of those emails from a Nigerian prince who just needs you to give him your bank account info… We considered canceling (I actually had an alarm set on my phone for an hour before the last moment we could cancel and get our money back!) but ultimately we decided to just see how it went.
Turns out this wasn’t the best decision. My sister had to travel for work unexpectedly right before our vacation so by the time we arrived in Vancouver she hadn’t slept in about 24 hours. To add insult to injury, she had been working on the set of one of NBC’s new shows, Taken (you know, based on the movies where Liam Neeson has to rescue his daughter after she’s kidnapped on vacation?). Suffice it to say, this Nervous Nellie and her now paranoid, exhausted little sister were a bit of a mess.
The instructions for the Airbnb kept changing as we texted with our host from the airport. Then suddenly he admits that this is not the girl we were originally texting, this is her husband. She had been called out of the country for a “family emergency” so he was filling in for her. Um…we are SO getting taken!
So we finally arrive at the Airbnb and he has left the door unlocked for us. This feels a little shaky…but the apartment was in a building full of temporary corporate apartments so at least there was a security guard downstairs. (Though my sister quickly pointed out that the bad guys could drug or kill him easily!) When we arrived at the door, we could hear music playing very loudly inside the apartment…probably to cover up our screams as we were murdered. We freaked out and told the host (via text) that we were going to book a hotel instead. But he said “but then my apartment will be unlocked all night.” And feeling guilty about that, I encouraged us to at least go into the apartment and look around.
We searched that place like Olivia Benson searching for a criminal. No corner, shower curtain, or closet door was unturned. And finally we decided we were probably safe…ish. We thought about sleeping in the same bed, but decided that the bedrooms were close enough together that we could hear each other if anything happened. So then we left all the lights on, barricaded the door, and went to sleep.
In my pjs, door has furniture stacked in front of it, good to go. Sweet dreams!
Fast forward to the end of our trip and the Airbnb was actually great. The location was right in downtown Vancouver making it easy to walk to lots of cool places like Coal Harbour where we did our Sea Plane tour. And our host had left us snacks, water, and soda.
My sister was not sure we should eat the snacks. “They probably have drugs in them to make us go to sleep so he can come in and take us!” But there was a Snickers bar in the fridge so she eventually caved! The sriracha chips were way too spicy for me, but the digestives…YUM! I miss those little chocolate biscuits from my study abroad days in London! He had even texted to say that he was leaving snacks because he knew our flight got in at midnight and sometimes it was hard to find food in the area that late. We were so not taken!
After our AirBnB experience, the hostel seemed like a breeze. The building had been an athlete dorm during the Vancouver Olympics before it was a hostel. (This made me insanely happy as I LOVE the Olympics!) And staying there just sort of felt like being a freshman in college again where you don’t know your roommates yet…except I was a little more nervous about my stuff being stolen.
So I guess I don’t have to be such a Nervous Nellie anymore…or maybe we just got lucky this time and next time we’ll get taken. Better stay on high alert.