Once, I stayed in a horrible place in Brazil. It was my first time traveling alone abroad and I was with my friend who lived there. We decided to go to Buzios, a beach town that I highly recommend, and stayed in a place her mom said had great food. Well, maybe the food was great, but the accommodations sucked. The beds were awful, there were kids next door (who seemed to live there) who were extremely loud and watched cartoons at high decibels early in the morning. Dogs barked all night long and we could hear people constantly.
Not knowing anything about Brazil besides my friend’s parent’s apartment (that was pretty nice) I was staying in before we went to Buzios, I thought to myself that this might be normal. My friend seemed to be sleeping and didn’t say anything the whole night. I decided I’d suck it up and just go with it. Then, the next morning came and my friend said we had to leave, that this place was absolutely awful. Sighing with relief, I packed my suitcase and we found an absolutely amazing hotel a little further down the road. It was expensive (for Brazil standards, but our dollar was much stronger) and my friend hesitated. I said it was my treat and happily booked the weekend for CAD$70.
Sometimes, bad accommodations happen. Sometimes, there are little things you can live with like tiny hotels or apartments, 5th floor walk-ups or a shitty view. Other times, you may feel unsafe or not receive a good night’s sleep. Always, always, always leave if you feel unsafe in a place. You don’t even need to book in. If you feel uneasy the second you step inside, cut your losses and go elsewhere. Never stay somewhere that makes you feel unsafe just to save a buck or two.
On my last trip to Paris our apartment sucked. It was in the 5th floor (y’all know that means 6 flights of stairs, not 5), it was tiny and while it was cleaned, it wasn’t as clean as I would’ve liked. The first two things are normal in the Paris apartment world, especially if you don’t want to pay 200€/night. The cleanliness? Once I wiped down a counter with wet ones, I felt okay. Our bathroom had a bathtub and no shower curtain. Showering in the morning took some maneuvering not to flood the place.
Annoyed at the time (and with a lot of things going wrong on that trip), I wondered if, at 31, I was too old to be doing these kind of travel stories. I should be in a plush hotel with balconies in every corner. Then, I stepped outside and went on my way exploring and re-visiting my favourite city and it was okay. Now that I’ve put some time and distance between myself and the apartment, I’m not as annoyed, not as upset.
If it’s something you can talk to the hotel or your airbnb host about, do it. Don’t yell at them, but ask them about any issues you have or bring up any concerns. They may be unaware (like a shitty house cleaner) and it can help you and guests in the future.
If it’s something really bad and it falls under any protection plan by the third party website, contact them. Read through their entire guidelines immediately to make sure you’re calling them for the right reason and at the right time (like if they will not cover you if you stay the night).
Leave an honest review. Scathing reviews aren’t needed, but don’t sugarcoat things. If you had a hard time with x, let other potential guests know, especially if you enjoyed your time, but if you knew about it going in, you’d have had a better time (like ear plugs and noise cancelling head phones in that Buzios place).
Buy what you need and chalk it up to a travel experience. Obviously, this can get expensive real quick, but if it’s something relatively cheap and easy to get and it will definitely make your stay better, just do it. That Buzios hotel? Not enough towels, at all. So, I bought some and still use my adorable fish patterned towels today. Other cheap items that make stays infinitely better? Wine. Lots of it.
Don’t let it ruin your trip. Unless your trip was meant for spa and plush luxuries, get over it. Have a cry, have a yell, curse the country you’re visiting, then get on with it. Because there’s more out there to see than your hotel room.