A woman shared what she called her “biggest travel hack,” saving her “literally thousands of dollars while traveling”—but a travel expert declared it a bad idea that could actually put travelers at risk.
The advice comes from TikTok creator Anna (@annathingbutanimals), who touts her account as promoting vegan travel; her bio also notes that she leads vegan group tours.
“I’m done gatekeeping,” she declares, before promising a money-saving Airbnb hack.
@annathingbutanimals I also secretly do this when my friends stay at an airbnb too. I could legit open a travel agency at this point #travelhacks #travelhacking #cheaptravel #budgettravel #savingmoneytips #travelhacking101 #cheapairbnbs ♬ original sound – Anna – Vegan Group Travel
“I cannot believe nobody is talking about this,” she says, before delving into it. “Every time, and I mean every time you stay in an Airbnb, save their phone number. I don’t care how long it’s been.”
She goes on to explain that some people have multiple Airbnb properties and would rather rent to people they know have been good guests in the past.
She even provides a script of sorts. “I go through my Rolodex; I look, OK, who do I know there and I’m like, ‘Hey, it’s Anna. I stayed in your Airbnb on blah blah, blah, absolutely loved it. Coming to whatever, this time, was wondering if you have anything during this time.'”
“Then, whatever the list price is, whatever the price they give you is,” she continues, “Say, ‘Hey, can I pay you insert 70% of that if I pay you in cash?”
She notes, “If it’s offseason or last minute, you can even go lower. I’ve done like 50%.”
She finishes by asserting, “It has never not worked for me, and I think I’ve saved $500 just this month.”
Her caption notes that she doesn’t just do this for herself. As she wrote, “I also secretly do this when my friends stay at an Airbnb too. I could legit open a travel agency at this point.”
“I heard a girl did this and when she showed up they actually let her stay for free,” one viewer commented.
Anna said in response, “Manifesting this.”
However, one viewer expressed discontent with Airbnb, saying, “No. I’ll stay in hotels. No more rules and no cleaning before I pay them to clean.”
Another pointed out, “But then you have zero protection or contract if you pay cash and don’t go through the Airbnb website. That seems sketchy.”
Travel expert Joshua Rasia echoed the commenter’s sentiment. In a story by Metro, Rasia contended that Anna’s hack was not only foolhardy but also potentially dangerous.
Rasia listed six different reasons you shouldn’t follow Anna’s advice:
- The host could cancel your stay at any minute,
- it might be a scam
- you might not get assistance during your stay
- your account could be suspended,
- your safety could be compromised, and
- you might experience other legal repercussions from ‘cheating the system’ this way.
The article also pointed out, “Platforms such as Airbnb have all kinds of processes in place to protect both hosts and guests. Often, they charge additional fees to ensure you’re getting what you’re paying for and to protect against last-minute cancellations, scams and other dodgy situations. So while you think you might be saving money in the short-term, you’re putting yourself at risk by not being protected by an established platform.”
Airbnb provides this brand of advice for guests on its site, noting, “Some people may suggest that you chat on Facebook messenger, by text, or somewhere other than Airbnb. But if you do, you lose the protections of our cancellation and refund policies, Host damage protection, Host liability insurance, Terms of Service, Payments Terms of Service, and other safeguards.”
It adds, “Leaving also makes it harder for us to protect your information and puts you at greater risk of fraud and other security issues, such as phishing.”
According to Airbnb’s guidelines for hosts, doing a cash transaction could cause them to run afoul of occupancy tax obligations.
“In some tax jurisdictions, Airbnb will take care of calculating, collecting, and remitting local occupancy tax on your behalf,” the article pointed out. “Occupancy tax is calculated differently in every jurisdiction, and we’re moving as quickly as possible to extend this benefit to more hosts around the globe.”
The Daily Dot contacted Anna and Airbnb via email for more information.
Update Tuesday, Aug. 22, 11:33 a.m. CT: The interview with Rasia referenced by Metro was originally published by Cottagely.