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AirBnb’s May Not Be As Safe As You Thought

Just because an Airbnb has good reviews, doesn’t mean you can’t be a victim, so be aware of the dangers lurking when on vacation.

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Just because an Airbnb has good reviews, doesn’t mean you can’t be a victim, so be aware of the dangers lurking when on vacation.  Imagine, you are on vacation and you make a horrifying discovery in your rented Airbnb, someone has been secretly recording your every move.  What would you do if you found hidden cameras in your rental property?  That is exactly what happened to an Indiana couple who was using the popular vacation rental website while taking a trip to Florida.  Luckily, Derek Starnes worked in the tech field or he may have never noticed the tiny hidden cameras recording him and his wife.

 

Starnes told Tampa ABC Action News, that he noticed a smoke detector had a weird black hole, so he investigated it closer.  When he looked inside the hole, he saw a tiny camera connected to an SD memory card.

The camera was pointed directly at the bed and this sent shivers down his spine. He searched around the rented home and found two other cameras, one pointed toward the living room and one in the bathroom.  

Starnes and his wife rented the townhome in Longboat Key, near Sarasota, FL through the Airbnb website.  He immediately called the police.

 

 

Wayne Natt was arrested and charged with video voyeurism and may be charged with more once all the evidence is collected.  The 56-year-old tried to tell police that he only recorded consenting adults, but that doesn’t really hold any water.  There was footage fo Starnes and his wife, and they definitely did NOT consent to be videotaped.

Lt. Bob Bourque of the Longboat Key Police Department told ABC Action News, “We seized a lot of computer storage devices, hard drives, computers, laptops, SD Cards and anything that would store data.”

He went on to say, “We don’t know if there are local victims, someone who may have been dating him or a companion that doesn’t realize they are being videotaped, and then we have the other side of who he rented to through Airbnb.”

 

The police are asking any Airbnb guests who may have stayed at Mr. Natt’s home at 623 Cedars Court in Longboat Key, FL, to come forward.  You may have been taped illegally as well.

Airbnb took swift action once they learned of this heinous act and immediately banned Mr. Natt from the website permanently.  

Airbnb spokesman, Benjamin Breit made a statement, “We are outraged at the reports of what happened; as soon as we were made aware, we permanently banned this individual from our community and fully supported the affected guests, privacy issues extremely seriously and have a zero-tolerance policy against this behavior.”

 

Starnes is feeling distressed because he knows the camera caught him walking across the bedroom nude.  Can you imagine knowing that you were filmed in your most intimate and vulnerable state?

How To Prevent This Type of Thing From Happening to You

 

CAMERA DETECTOR

If you are worried about being secretly recorded when you are staying at a hotel or Airbnb, simply buy yourself a Camera Detector.  A low-cost camera detector will run you around $30 and uses a laser to look for hidden cameras.

 

TELL THEM YOU PLAN TO SWEEP THE ROOM

This may make you sound paranoid, but who cares, it’s your personal safety we are talking about here.  If someone was planning to film you, announcing it will most certainly scare them off.  

 

USE A FLASHLIGHT

The flashlight can help you find the tiniest of hidden cameras.

Simply turn off all the lights, and slowly scan the room with the illuminated flashlight, looking for glints of light coming from a camera.

 

REVIEWS MEAN ALMOST NOTHING

Sure a review will tell you certain information, but in this situation, it tells you nothing.  If someone found a camera before, the property would already be shut down.  Don’t take ratings and reviews as the gospel.

 

This isn’t an isolated incident, as there have been several Airbnb guests who have been arrested for the exact same thing.  A Montreal Airbnb host had a hidden camera in a bin next to the bed, catching all sorts of vacation revelry.

An Airbnb host in Japan is falling under scrutiny as there were hidden cameras found by a Korean couple who was staying at the apartment.  This case also involved a smoke detector with a hidden camera installed.

 

According to Starnes, the Airbnb was well reviewed and there was no other evidence that something nefarious was going on.

Be careful out there, the world is full of many sick and twisted people.

 

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Travel

Don’t Ever go on a Road Trip Without Packing These 10 Items

Road trip season is almost here and you have to be prepared. The weather is going to clear up soon; spring break is on the horizon and your need for travel will be growing. It’s an American tradition to pack up the car and head…

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Road trip season is almost here and you have to be prepared. The weather is going to clear up soon; spring break is on the horizon and your need for travel will be growing. It’s an American tradition to pack up the car and head out into the great beyond, navigating your way through the beautiful country. I know once the first signs of spring begin to appear, its road trip time!

 

Let’s look at what essentials you should bring to make your road trip epic and unforgettable.

 

Sunglasses

You can’t leave home without your shades dudes. I live in California so I wouldn’t even think about starting a road trip with out my favorite pair of sunglasses and I might even bring a backup, because you never know. Driving down the highway with the sun glaring back at you can be dangerous, so the shades aren’t just for looking cool, although they certainly help.   Make sure your sunglasses protect against UV rays and you should be safe.

 

Water Bottle

Water is the basis of all life and we need it to survive and thrive, so make sure you pack a quality water bottle. I enjoy one that keeps my water cold for longer, like a Contigo. We should be drinking 4-16 ounce glasses of water a day at minimum to keep you hydrated, so a good water bottle is key. Plastic water bottles are environmental nightmares, so steer clear of these bad boys and get yourself a refillable bottle.

 

GPS Navigation

Most smartphones come with map apps already installed but I prefer an aftermarket one. Try WAZE, it’s a navigation app that adds in the functionality of social media to increase its effectiveness. This app tells you where traffic is and redirects you to minimize your travel time. I honestly don’t drive on the highway without first checking WAZE to see what the traffic is like.  Getting lost can be a fun adventure, but getting found is much better.

 

Tunes

What’s a road trip without some great tunes to guide your way? I always make a road trip specific mix so that my trip soundtrack reflects the drive.   If your car has an auxiliary port, make sure you bring that aux cable so you can hook up your mp3 player, or just burn some sweet mix CDs.

 

First Aid

You never know when you may need a first aid kit and if you are on a road trip, who knows where the closest help could be? You may just need a bandage or some aspirin, but a properly stocked first aid kit will always come in handy.

 

Emergency Kit

Going along with the first aid kit, a roadside emergency kit is very helpful to have in the trunk. A good roadside emergency kit should contain jumper cables, road flares or reflective triangles, a shovel, rope and a battery jumper. I have a great battery jumper in mine and it’s saved the day multiple times. Believe me, accidents happen and it always is good to be prepared. I knew being a Boy Scout would come in handy.

 

Camera

You need a good camera for your road trip or did it even happen? I pack my GoPro when I travel because you never know when adventure will happen and you need to document it. On a good road trip, you will see some sites that you’ve never seen before and you better record it. A simple point and shoot digital camera works great for this purpose, just toss it in the glove compartment and make sure your battery is charged.

 

Snacks

How can you go on a road trip without the proper snacks? I advise a good mix of sweet, salty and sour. Candy and chips are the standard with some beef jerky tossed in for sustenance. I always like to drive with emergency food, just in case you get stranded somewhere.

 

Sunscreen

Believe me, you will notice a driver side arm tan after a few days on the road. I always pack sunscreen or sunblock for road trips.   Make it an SPF of 30 or higher for the proper protection and you won’t have to keep reapplying throughout the day.

 

Cell Phone Mount

A good cell phone mount is key, especially since distracted driving is fast becoming a cause of many fatal car accidents. I use a vent clip phone holder, while many will chose the suction cup version that sticks to your windshield.   Either way, this will keep your hands free to drive and your attention on the road.

 

Hopefully these items make your road trip one to remember. Drive safe and follow all posted signs, its an epic adventure out there, just waiting for you to take it.

 

Photos Courtesy of Trend Hunter, ignant, sunglasswarehouse, travelsupermarket 

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Travel

Choosing the Best Airplane Seat

The great debate… window or aisle and which airplane seat is best? It’s a question that has been asked multiple times and the discussion keeps raging on.   Is there a scientific answer or is it more about personal preference? I’m here to get to the…

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The great debate… window or aisle and which airplane seat is best? It’s a question that has been asked multiple times and the discussion keeps raging on.   Is there a scientific answer or is it more about personal preference? I’m here to get to the bottom of this question and maybe finally find out, which seat on an airplane is truly the best.

It’s no surprise that the airlines continue to move the seats closer and closer, slowly eroding our legroom and lowering our comfort levels. Have you ever sat on an airplane and have the windows not line up with your seat?   That’s because the seats have been moved to make room for more rows and more passengers per flight.

Of course this debate doesn’t include first class, because there is no bad seat in first. If you can afford first class or get upgraded, thank your lucky stars that you don’t have to make this Sofie’s choice. Enjoy that free champagne up there; us peasants will be fighting over the armrest like a bunch of wild animals.  I’m not sure that people that fly first class have any idea what its like choosing and airplane seat.

The only real truth that has been answered is that the middle seat is by far the worst and should be your last choice. Only a real savage would decide to sit in the middle seat if others were available. This choice has too many variables to make it an acceptable choice.

Window or Aisle?

Statistically, the aisle seat is the most sought out when booking, and the window is a safe second choice. Most frequent travelers prefer the aisle for access to the restroom and the fact that they don’t have to climb over someone. Safety from blood clots is another reason aisle people love their seats. It allows you to get up and stretch your legs multiple times and at your own convenience.  These reasons are why the aisle is statistically the number one airplane seat picked.

Window enthusiasts will advocate for their choice by saying you can sleep easier and are bothered less. They also boast about having control of the window shade, which is a power move for sure.   Overnight flights make people chose the window first, because it allows them to lean on the side of the plane as a headrest, which makes sleeping much easier.

 

Worst seats on Airplane

Its no secret that the middle seat is the redheaded stepchild of airplane seats. Nobody wants it and only chose them when they have no other choice. Last resort middle seats are your punishment for booking your travel late.   You don’t get your own anything in the middle except of coarse tray table.

Sitting in the middle makes you continuously jockey for the armrests and legroom with your row mates.  Why chose this airplane seat?  I can only think that you wish to sit with your loved one, but I always have my wife sit on the aisle as I sit in the window.  Only if someone tries to sit in between us does my wife move to the middle.

I never want to sit in the first or last rows, always a bad choice. The last row almost never reclines and the first row never allows you to keep your personal belongings with you.   Airlines tend to jam the last row in there so it may also have slightly less legroom, and on airplanes, every centimeter counts. The first row or bulkhead is a red herring; it looks like first class but is actually not convenient at all. The flight attendant will make you keep all your stuff in the overhead compartment instead of next to you, where you need it.

The seats in front of the emergency rows also doesn’t recline, so steer clear of those awful seats.

Exit door seats are also way over-rated, they boast that they have extra legroom, but they also don’t recline. In my experience, reclining is way more important than a little extra legroom. If you are extra tall however, these seats are your best bet.

For the love of all that is holy, stay away from the bathroom. You may think that these are good seats because they have easy access. WRONG! You will smell everything that comes out of people and there is no escaping some stinky poop. Beware of false conveniences.

 

Night or Day

If you are flying at night, the overwhelming majority of people prefer the window. This is obviously for sleeping purposes and not being bothered by your row mates.

During daytime flights, the aisle is the preferred seat. These allow people to have better access to the restroom and have more room overall to adjust during the flight.

  

Which seat is best for you is totally a personal opinion. I know that I almost exclusively sit in the window seat, but that’s my opinion. I can tell you that sitting in the middle seat is a fate I don’t wish upon anyone. They should just get rid of all middle seats and the world may actually be a better place to live. Imagine how much happier we would be if the middle seat never existed in the first place.

 

 

Photos Courtesy of thedailybeast, mrandmrsromance, dailymail, youtube

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Traveling Creates Personal Growth

I often get asked why I want to leave home and travel. Won’t I miss everyone and everything? Won’t I get lonely? What am I running away from? We all have our reasons for traveling – wanderlust, the love of a new culture, a desire…

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Why do I travel, is something that gets asked of me often and for a while I didn’t have an answer.  It actually took some solo travel for me to have the time to ponder that great question.  I reflected on what I was doing and why was I there.  The answer is different for everyone, so my reasons will certainly be different from yours and so on.  The simple answer to why we travel is for personal growth, but what does that mean?

Every person has their reason to travel… exploration, freeing your soul, personal growth, trying to forget something, searching for answers, boredom or do you just want to see the world.  I’ve always believed that travel is particular to each person.   For some travel can be backpacking around the world, while travel for others can be driving 100 miles to the next major city, all that matters is your personal growth.  

The cool thing is that travel means different things to different people and my definition has no bearing on yours.  The key is that you find your own reasons to travel and just do it like nike.

No travel book is written for you unless you are the author.  I can’t live your life for you, but I can give you some useful advice and if you follow it that is on you.  I hope you do travel and I hope you figure out why you travel, because I have and its changed my life.

Travel is a collection of moving parts that you hope gel together to create a memorable and favorable experience. That collection of moving parts is how you will experience a trip and hopefully help you become a better person.  Is this improving your personal growth?

 

The world moves so fast nowadays and with modern conveniences we lose sight of many of the important aspects, like personal connections and understanding how other people think. 

Life moves fast and it helps to slow down on occasion and appreciate how amazing everything is.  The synergy of our planet is pretty cool and if you don’t spend time to check it out, after awhile it will be too late.

I’ve been moving pretty fast recently, married, new job, and the one constant in my life is my need for wanderlust.  A constant need to better myself, my situation and my happiness.  i’ve learned that life won’t slow down for you, if you want change, you have to actively work on it.

Is there personal growth?

Now is the time that you must decide why you travel or if you don’t, why should I.  I’m tired of hearing the same excuses for why people constantly put off traveling and these excuses never stop.  If you want to experience life and not just get by, travel and see the world.  This will hopefully open up your eyes to how other people think and live, by doing so, you will be a better person.   This is your homework assignment: seriously try and think about why you travel or should travel.  Try and think about the last trip you took and how it affected your life, your mind and your world view.  Hopefully you were positively affected by your trip and you found soe inner peace along the way, cause I know I did. 

 

Check out the full article on NomadicMatt

Photo courtesy of 1elemental and Lifehacker

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