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Dear Yanni...More Best of 2019.

By Yanni Poulakos
Dear Yanni...More Best of 2019.

Yanni will be back with more advice next week, but this week we’re diving into more of Yanni’s best tips from 2019. 

What are some tips for getting through TSA without issue?

With long lines and agitated travelers, going through security and dealing with TSA agents can be a stressful process. Try to come from a place of empathy. Like other essential federal employees, the TSA keeps people on the job always, including during a government shut-down. We should want TSA employees to be happy because it’s what keeps us safe. Smile if you’re inclined, be at least cordial if you’re not. Comply, don’t defy. Then, if something goes awry, raise a concern through the complaint process. If something serious is happening, address whatever makes you uncomfortable in the moment. 

 

To speed things up and limit the interaction you have with TSA in general, consider signing up for TSA precheck. You’ll usually zip through the line and you don’t have to take anything out of your suitcase. 

 

How can you make sure the home share you rent is legit?

-Always keep communication with hosts in-platform. Many hosts will wish to defer to emailing, texting, carrier pigeon, etc. However, in order to be protected, keep all of your communication in a space where if you need support, they’d be able to view everything. 

 

-Read the reviews. Make sure other renters have enjoyed their stay and found things to be clean and in good condition. Remember, rental platforms like AirBnB give deference to host needs meaning they can cancel your booking if they want to. But this creates an automatic review that says “host cancelled XX days before arrival” so you’ll see if someone has a track record of being flakey. 

 

-Don’t fall for the last minute switch up. Scammers often come up with excuses as to why you can’t actually stay in the place you booked at the last minute and want to talk to you off the platform to make arrangements and have no publicly viewable track record. Involve customer support immediately and if the host isn’t showing you another reviewed listing that they have on the platform which they are proposing that is of like or better quality, do not accept it. 

 

-Looks too good to be true? It might just be that. Scammers are great at using artist renderings, photos of a generic all-white apartment in Miami with windows photoshopped Caribbean blue, or having an incredibly low rate relative to other rentals nearby to lure you in. This is most often true of new listings with no reviews. 

 

-Stick to major vacation rental providers. Large platforms like VRBO and AirBnB have a robust platform, lots of investment and work with vacation rentals all day everyday. Other players in the travel space have added vacation rentals, but are not as resourced, which means that scammers are more likely to play to those vulnerabilities. 

 

-Don’t pay in a shady way. Do not provide any cash or additional payments outside of the platform unless that’s disclosed. For example, some international destinations often have guests pay for their utilities, but this must be disclosed in advance, not a surprise at arrival.

 


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Yanni Poulakos

Yanni has had the travel bug from a young age. From traveling to over 50 countries and stints spent living in Asia, South America, Europe and the Caribbean, his insights into hacking personal and business travel are grounded in first-hand experience. As a former road warrior, he once covered every province in Italy in 6 weeks by car, served as a travel manager for dozens of colleagues across the US and Europe while leading a fundraising team, and customized exclusive travel experiences for a smattering of politicians and celebrities. No matter whether at home or on the road, Yanni stringently adheres to his approaches to nutrition and self-care, with a fervent commitment to help others do the same.

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