The last two years, I’ve been yearning to travel. Literally all I have talked about is how I want to explore, see new places, live all around the country, and see the world. Well, with a lease that ended and no potential apartments to move to, I’ve decided this is the perfect time to just go for it. Jump in and buy as many one-way tickets as I can.
At first, everything fell into place rather smoothly. I found really cheap flights using google flights where you literally just search which airports you want to fly to and it will bring up the cheapest fares plus tips on scoring even better deals. Seriously, check it out! Friends and family members have offered up their homes while I floated between Palm Beach, and New York. I have even scored some massive deals using Orbitz, my favorite travel planner.
But like with most adventures there is always the occasional plot twist. Mine just happen to be barely escaping a stay in what appeared to be a drug dealers house in Venice Beach. Let me explain.
I planned a trip to Santa Monica from New York because I really missed my old neighborhood, and there was a direct flight for only $148. To me it was a no-brainer. Buy the ticket and figure out housing later. In between celebrating my boyfriend’s 30th birthday and my best friend’s bachelorette party in New York City, I looked up places to stay via Airbnb.
This was my first time ever using the housing app, and was a little hesitant. I found two places I really liked located near where I use to live. Unfortunately, both of those options fell through. With only a couple days before I had to leave, I start searching in nearby neighborhoods like Pacific Palisades and Venice Beach. That was when I found a very cute one bedroom for rent and within my budget.
The pictures were beautiful, showcasing a kitchen with subway tile backsplash, and stainless steel appliances. The listing stated it was close to Abbot Kinney and a bike ride away from Santa Monica. All the reviews raved on how great the place was, so I thought, perfect! I requested to book and was accepted to stay.
When I arrived a few days later, I was incredibly surprised by what I found. My taxi driver drove down a loud and very busy street and dropped me off at a placed with barred up windows and peeling paint. I shook my head and told my driver this can’t be the place! This must be wrong. But he just pointed and said, that is the address. And he was right.
I climbed up a flight of wooden steps that creaked beneath my feet. The door had a touch pad instead of a key lock to open. I read through the host instructions for the password. I kid you not the combination was 0420. Just perfect.
As I turned the door handle I was greeted by a hot stuffy dirty apartment. Granted I was worn before hand that the cleaning crew wasn’t able to come until after 5pm, I just wasn’t expecting the dirty pots on the stove. A black leather couch was on one side of the room and deep red velvet window shades to my right. Metal bars lined the windows, which was very much omitted when viewing the photos online.
I walked into the bedroom and saw a bed with matching red velvet sheets, and blaring sirens coming from the busy street right outside. This is not what I signed up for. The hosts bio said he was holistic and believed in crystals and lived in a serene location. But what I was standing in was anything but serene.
With the touch pad key lock reading 0420, and the strange death angel decor, there is no way in hell I am staying here! I called Airbnb and notified the host my wish to cancel as it is nothing like what was advertised. I brought my luggage down to the curb and requested an Uber while simultaneously texting my friend and cousin to see if I could crash with them. Right before my uber ride showed up a man approached me, “Hey are you the Airbnb guest?”I was a little stunned. Is this the host appear from thin air after I dissed his place?
“Yes,” I replied hesitantly.
“Hi, I am here to clean the apartment. I shouldn’t be too long.”
“Oh, you know what, I am not going to be staying,” I said. Within a few additional minutes of chatting with this thin half dazed guy, I learn that the “cleaning service” is a guy that lives downstairs and has no background in cleaning. And that though the location is semi loud, it did have a lot of great restaurants nearby. Oddly the last part reminded me of all the reviews I read on Airbnb. Hmmm…Things began to add of quickly in my head what was really going on here.
I left, and talked to my uber driver about what just happened. His official statement was ” No man, that’s way too much for a dump like that. Plus it ain’t safe for you. You’re way better off in Santa Monica” where he dropped me off. He officially confirmed my believe. And lucky my friends were kind enough to let me stay with them. Thank God for good friends!
What I have learned is that pictures are deceiving, and when traveling interesting stories are bound to happen. I am so glad I live by the notion of trust your gut and cut your losses. Who knows how many people knew the combination to that apartment? Or if I would be safe. I eventually got Airbnb to refund my money. I was even offered a coupon to try again. I am not sure if I’ll use it though.
Do you have any disastrous traveling stories? Let me know below! Make sure you subscribe to my newsletter for up-to-date information.