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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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Moving To A Job For A 6 Or 12-Month Contract: Tips To Succeed

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Working full-time at a company for years simply is not for everyone. There are those people with great skills that prefer to work on a contract basis. This could be for a year or for 6 months depending on the need of the client. The best aspect of contract work is that hours over 40 per week can be charged at a high rate. This will help reduce the chances of being asked to work a long weekend as it will be very expensive for the company. The truth is that you are not obligated outside of your 40 hours per week to do anything else. Below are tips to help you succeed when you are constantly taking on new contracts in various parts of the country.

Remote Roles Are Superior

The truth is that as a contractor you likely will want to find a remote role. Relocation can come with a number of issues and a multitude of stress. The one variable to consider is that some contractors take jobs in new locations so they can explore the country. The number of remote roles is exploding as so many people are refusing to head back to the office. The pandemic showed companies and professionals that they could maintain productivity while working at home. The convenience led some professionals to vow to never return to a traditional work environment. 

Moving To A New City 

Moving to a new city for a contract can be a blast as you have a certain amount of time that you will be there. You will likely try to find a rental but purchasing furniture is not something that would be considered a good investment. Furniture rental is likely the best option if you do not want to have to deal with moving furniture across the country when you get another contract. You want to get the most out of living in your new city which likely does not include going shopping for furniture. Take the time to look into all of your options for lodging as well as what part of a city that you would like to live in. 

Be Realistic About Your Workload

Contractors can be taken advantage of by some companies as there is very little recourse for them. With this being said, there are contracts that will pay contractors through the entire contract even if they are terminated. You want to be paid on the same level as people that are just as productive as you. Being supremely productive might just lead to more work. You want to thrive in a new contract role without setting expectations far too high to sustain for the entire duration of the contract. 

The ability to get new contracts regularly that pay well provides ultimate convenience. The ability to take a few months off after a contract allows you to rejuvenate mentally. Use the tips above so you will never have an issue finding a new contract due to the great reputation you have built. 

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Don’t Break The Bank When You Travel

Check out these great money saving tips so you don’t go broke taking your next vacation. 

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There’s really no way around it: traveling is expensive. On top of the obvious charges like flights and hotels, there will always be the little daily expenses that you didn’t fully prepare for when you were preparing for your trip. But the last thing you want to do is just not think about it and throw money around like a madman. There are definitely still ways to save money while traveling. And here they are!

THE TUESDAY RULE

I have to admit, I didn’t even really know about this “rule” before I started writing this article. But, for the most part, the cheapest flights of the week are almost always on a Tuesday. So, if you can, try to schedule all your flights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. This can dramatically lower the cost of your vacation.

DON’T BOTHER WITH HOTELS

Thanks to rental services like Airbnb and VRBO the hotel industry has really taken a hit. And prices have gone way up because of it. So, no matter how bad we may feel about their declining business, they’re just not the best option anymore. You can find a great deal with all the service and amenities you need from one of the vacation rental sites. There are even a few sites that deal in “house-swapping” where you basically just stay in each other’s homes during simultaneous vacations and don’t have to pay a thing!

BOOK DIRECTLY THROUGH THE AIRLINE

Many of the flight booking sites like Expedia or Travelocity actually don’t offer as many options as are available to you if you book through the airline. There are other services like Google Flights and Skyscanner that find the cheapest flights being offered by the airlines, and then you can just contact the airline yourself and book those specific flights. It’s a little extra work, but it can end up saving you more money than you think.

A LITTLE SPONTANEITY NEVER HURT ANYONE

Sure, doing your homework and planning ahead can most certainly help you save money on a vacation. But sometimes there are last minute deals made available when airlines are just trying to fill out their flights. So if you have a favorite airline, sign up for the mailing list. This way you’ll know when they are offering really cheap flights. And if you’re in the mood to just get out town regardless of where you’re going, this is a really cheap and fun option.

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8 Reasons to Rent a Car for Your Next Vacation

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8 Reasons to Rent a Car for Your Next Vacation

Vacation is the time to relax and leave your normal day-to-day worries behind. The last thing you want is to stress out over your transportation.

Whether you’re traveling near or far, there are fine reasons to rent a car rather than drive your own vehicle or depend on public transit. Here are a few:

1. Save wear on your own car.

Depending on how far you travel, driving will add a lot of miles on your car. You might as well wear out someone else’s vehicle instead of your own.

Plus, if your own car is old or in bad condition, renting one could help you avoid potential road trouble. Rental cars are highly reliable because they are usually newer models and kept in top shape.

So no matter where you go, you can be fairly confident you won’t get stuck on the side of the road.

2. Save money.

If your car eats a lot of fuel, you might save a lot on gasoline by driving a rental. They’re typically fuel-efficient because they are newer models. And you might be surprised to learn you could save around 15% by booking a rental car at the last minute!

3. Travel safely.

Another reason to choose a rental car over other modes of transportation is safety. Think about it.

In a taxi, you’re relying on another driver. Aboard a train, bus, or subway line, you’re packed into a tight space with many other people. It’s better to be in control of the wheel.

If you drive your own car, and it’s older or already has issues, you run the risk of your car malfunctioning and causing an accident. Rentals are much more reliable because they’re well maintained.

That said, if you’re ever involved in a car crash, make sure to consult an experienced auto-accident attorney. He or she will help you file any insurance or legal claims and make sure you arrive at the best resolution.

4. Drive more comfortably.

Rental cars are kept squeaky clean, so they feel like brand-new vehicles. This will make your travel much more comfortable, compared to your own vehicle, which may be dirty– or at best, cluttered.

You can also choose a car to rent that you wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to drive. Maybe a nice Mercedes Benz or a new Audi.

This is a great way to test-drive nice cars to see what they feel like. And it’s way better than cramming into a subway car or a bus.

5. Show off your ride.

Rental cars not only feel nice on the inside; they also look good on the outside. This means you can drive in style and make a good impression wherever you go. Just be sure you always lock the doors and keep your valuables out of sight, so nobody is tempted to break in!

6. Keep a flexible schedule.

Renting a car means you can come and go as you please. No need to hail a taxi or wait on a bus; just drive when you feel like it.

If you have a full itinerary, it’s faster to get from place to place with a rented vehicle than by relying on public transportation. You’ll have more time for sightseeing and getting in all you want to.

7. Enjoy more privacy.

In a rental car, you can have your own space. You don’t need to worry about strangers listening in on your conversations or making you feel uncomfortable. Travel with privacy.

8. Carry your luggage more easily.

Finally, transferring your luggage between buses, trains, and subways can be a pain. When you have your own rental, you can keep your stuff in your trunk wherever you go. It’s much less hassle and requires less energy.

The Bottom line

When you plan your next vacation, think about getting a rental car. It should make the experience more enjoyable, and that’s what vacation is all about.

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