Travel Stories: That Time I Almost Left My Airbnb After 10 Minutes
All about my sh*tshow of a first night in Austin TX and how I made it out alive.
It’s no surprise to anyone that with any form of accommodation while traveling, there’s a certain risk that comes with it. Will the hotel be just like what the website says it will be? What if the hostel ends up being dirty and my roommates end up being loud? What if I don’t get along with the Airbnb host? What if the Airbnb host is actually an axe-murderer and is going to kill me in my sleep??
Okay, settle down, dramatic hypochondriac voice in my head.
My Airbnb experience during my recent solo trip to Austin honestly ended up being nothing short of wonderful…minus the beginning.
I had a late flight into Austin and got in around 10:30pm, and after getting off the plane, grabbing my stuff, and getting an Uber, I didn’t even get to where I was staying until around 11pm. Needless to say I was exhausted and ready to crash.
So after a short ride of mostly silence with a couple sprinkles of small talk, my Uber driver pulls up to where his GPS led us to- a completely pitch black house. He asked me: “Is this it?” Obviously, I didn’t really know where I was going, so I hesitantly replied: “Um…I’m not sure. I’ve never been here before.”
Just like the house, the entire neighborhood was super dark. Like, absurdly dark. Like, street lights, where you at tho?? With really no other option, I got out of the car to further investigate, and as if it were a scene out of a movie, my driver sped off.
Just a 22-year-old girl, in a seemingly increasingly dark neighborhood (seriously where the EFF are all the street lights!!), with everything I brought with me in tow and literally no idea where I was. What could go wrong?
At this point, I started to get pretty freaked out. Like, alright, this is it. This is how I die. But I walked up to the house and tried to keep my cool anyway.
I peeked in the window of the house to see two girls about my age sitting on the couch, watching a movie. Ten seconds later, a red pickup truck whizzed by me in the driveway and drove around to the back of the house. I tried to look at the girl driving the truck and give her a friendly smile (because I assumed she was my host), she served me some serious dirty look realness.
Feeling real confused, I turned back around, squinted to try to read the house number in the dark, and in a moment where time seemed to slow down and everything came together in my mind, I thought: Oh fuck, I’m at the wrong house.
I frantically ran back down the driveway and called my actual host, all the while mostly expecting to get jumped in this dark AF neighborhood. She apologized even though it wasn’t her fault even a little bit, and helped guide me to the actual house I’d be staying in. Bless.
“The key is in the mailbox, you can let yourself in. Your room is going to be the door to the right of the landing, and I’ll be there soon! I’m just finishing up washing some sheets for your bed- gotta love not having in home laundry units,” she explained. Alright, great, no problem.
I had to fuck around with my hand in the tiny metal mailbox attached to the outside of the house for a few minutes and then call her back again, because I couldn’t find the fricken key. It’s literally a teeny box, WHY am I struggling with this right now?? I started to worry that there was actually no key in there, but I finally found it under the little metal lip that was at the bottom of the mailbox. Phew.
Really starting to feel the 90-degree Texas heat getting to me, I (finally) let myself inside and made my way up the long stairs to the apartment. It was a super old, but cute house that was a duplex kind of deal, with one apartment on the bottom and one on the top. I could tell my host was super artsy, or at least was into art, with all of the cute little touches and art pieces she had all around. Didn’t hurt that she had a similar sense of home décor as I do- I felt right at home.
Super relieved and excited to finally be there (and knowing I would finally be going to sleep soon), I opened the door to the room to the immediate right of the landing. And then my stomach dropped.
The room was nothing like the pictures I remembered from the ad. The room was dirty. And honestly, I’m nowhere near a clean freak myself, but the room was dirtier than I would keep my apartment at home. Which is saying something.
There was an old mattress pushed up against the wall that had white pillows with questionable yellow stains on it, a dirty, off-white futon towards the back of the room with a ton of random crap scattered on top of it, and an old wooden dresser with two of the top drawers taken out of it and random crap shoved into the areas that should have been drawers. Feeling super confused and a little defeated, I pulled up my Airbnb app to compare the pictures in the ad to the actual room-I booked this a while ago, maybe I made a mistake?
I had been texting Matt throughout the entire Uber fiasco, so I called him to explain everything that happened and to ask what I should even do when my host got back from doing laundry. I could ask her to clean the room a little better? But that would be pretty awkward. I could literally just leave now and text her thanks but no thanks? That would be even more awkward, but at least I wouldn’t have to interact with her in person. I could stay here for the first night and then try to find something else for tomorrow night? That seemed like the most viable option at that point, since it was already almost midnight, but it’s not like any of those options were ideal, really.
After pacing up and down the room while on the phone for about 15 minutes, I saw her pull up outside and park next to the house. I quickly got off the phone and waited for her to come inside. Okay, breathe Emily. You can do this. Just innocently ask her if you’re in the right room. It’s no big deal.
She opened the door, and before I could even open my mouth to introduce myself or say anything at all, she said: “Hey! Your room is actually going to be the one right next to that one. Sorry, that was probably confusing, since there’s two bedrooms on the right side.”
She then opened the door to the room that would actually be mine, which was exactly what I had seen in the pictures- super cute, just as artsy as the rest of the house, cozy, and clean. Plus, she was nice enough to turn on the AC unit before I even got there. And thank god, because I was super flustered and sweating my fricken face off.
Feeling pretty dumb but incredibly relieved, I helped her put my sheets on the bed and we had the typical ten minutes of introductions, small talk, and “let me know if you need anything while you’re here” kind of deal. Just as she had been on the phone all night, she was super nice, friendly, and accommodating.
Once I finally closed the door for the night after the craziest night I’ve experienced while traveling, I flopped on the bed, closed my eyes, and thought about how I was really, really thankful I didn’t just leave to try to find a new place to stay.
That, and how I love air conditioning so fricken much.