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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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Mexico Travel Deals: Win 20 Years’ Worth of Free Caribbean Luxury Vacations

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One of the most affected industries due to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic is tourism. To offset the heavy financial loss, a few places like Mexico and those in the Caribbean recently reopened their borders to tourists.

Mexico, along with other places in the Caribbean, is a favorite pre-COVID-19 vacation destination for a number of tourists all around the world. So, to enliven the tourism industry once again, they created the trending hashtag, #Come2MexicanCaribbean (and its Spanish equivalent, #VenAlCaribeMexicanoX2) to promote post-COVID-19 tourism in these areas.

To further strengthen this campaign, would-be tourists are encouraged to remember their memorable visits of the Mexican Caribbean region and the different things they might like to do there in the future.

The said contest awards a lucky tourist with a 20 years’ worth of yearly vacation to the Mexican Caribbean area combined with a 5-night, all-inclusive stay in any of the 4- or 5-star coastal resorts there.

Contest Sponsors

The competition is sponsored by several tourist hotspots including those of Cancun, Isla Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, and Tulum. It is also backed by top hospitality developer Atelier Group and the Quintana Roo Tourism Board.

How to Join the Competition

If you are interested in the said contest, here are several guidelines for you to follow:

  •  Contestants must be 18 years old;
  • You should be a resident of any of the following countries:
  1. US,
  2. Canada,
  3. Mexico,
  4. Guatemala,
  5. Colombia,
  6. Peru,
  7. Chile,
  8. Brazil, and
  9. Argentina;
  • You must have either a TikTok or Instagram account (or both);
  • Post a video or a photo that features your favorite Mexican Caribbean beach vacation/s;
  •  Include the specific tags, #Come2MexicanCaribbean and @Come2MexicanCaribbean;
  • Follow the said initiative’s TikTok or Instagram profiles, @Come2MexicanCaribbean;
  • Tag their accounts on either of the platforms mentioned; and
  • The post that garners the most likes, plays, comments, and shares gets to be the winner of the competition.

The contest begins on 9 November and ends on 27 November 2020. Entrants should be able to post their entries within the given period.

You can also read the full terms and conditions of the said competition here. You may also visit en.come2mexicancaribbean.com for more information regarding the contest.

Summary

Mexico’s tourism industry comprises 8.5% of the nation’s overall GDP. Last year, an approximate of 24 million tourists visited the North American nation. Despite reopening its borders to visitors in July, the country’s roster of resorts and hotels still find it difficult to alleviate the effects of the lengthy lockdown imposed by the government earlier this year. The rapid increase in COVID-19 transmission is yet to slow down and the government aims to find more effective ways to flatten the curve.

The #Come2MexicanCaribbean aims to remind travellers of the country’s long-held tourist industry and the enticing spots that used to be go-to vacation areas in the region. It is their hope that by doing this initiative, the height of tourism will come alive again once everything goes back to normal.

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How Travel is Ruining our Planet

Travel is a good thing. I’ve encouraged people to do it in countless blog posts. But, in the rush to get people to travel, we often over look the negative impact of it. We talk about how travel can be a force for good- breaking…

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Let me preface this by saying that I’m not against travel, I write a travel blog for Pete’s sake. I have been telling people to drop everything and travel, and in my haste I’ve neglected to mention the possible environmental implications. Travel makes people better for doing it and that is a great thing, but we don’t talk about the repercussions to said travel. So, the question asked is; do we travel too much and is this travel adversely affecting our planet?

If you are a reader of mine, then you know that I constantly push for people to travel, so this will sound out of character but these are my reasons to not travel.

 

Destruction of local customs

The increased technology and constant metaphorical shrinking of our planet, we have created less cultural identities. We used to travel to explore new things and see corners of the planet yet seen by our eyes. But with technology, we have seen the planet from our computer and TV screens, so what are we exploring? Now with traveling to distant cultures we are inevitably bringing our culture with us and in so devaluing others. McDonalds are popping up all over the world so we all can be destroyed together.

 

Travel Trivializes Culture

Tourist traps are ruining our planet one trinket at a time. It’s sad when cultures are simplified down to some terrible stereotype that we have created to sell T-shirts. Originally people traveled to see parts of the world and experience different cultures, and now these experiences are being manufactured for our pleasure.   Children are being forced to accept that their reality is now selling trinkets and playing a part in some traveler’s fantasy of a culture, it’s sad.   It’s more of a problem of our planet’s globalization rather than anything else.

 

Local economy

Travel essentially destroys local economy by taking the tourist dollars and funneling it all to corporations. Locals don’t own the big hotels, huge conglomerates do and they profit form cultural destruction, essentially.

 

Environmental disaster

Travel is terrible for the environment and we don’t seem to care. More people are flying, driving, eating, shopping etc than ever before and our waste is just piling up. We constantly consume and consume but never really stop to think about what our excess usage really does to the environment.

 

Economic Issues

Tourism is centered on striking while the iron is hot, meaning that its not worried about the future, it’s all about the now. You see it in history and its repeating it self now. Towns go boom or bust with tourism and when that bubble burst, the town is left holding the bill. Look at the Salton Sea; it’s a tale that is all too familiar. A small town is suddenly thrust into a feeding frenzy of tourism money, then when the tourists stop coming, the town suddenly dies. The Salton Sea was a California hot spot in the 60s and 70s and now it’s a desolate ghost town.

 

Don’t make this stop you from traveling but allow this to open your mind while traveling and think about the possible repercussions of your actions. Maybe if we travel more consciously, we can fix our planet.

 

Check out the original article at Nomadicmatt

 

 

Photo courtesy of BoredPanda and FoxNews

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Visiting U. S. National Parks For Free

The family road trip is a summer rite of passage for all Americans. The memories made when you pack up the car and stuff the whole family into it to take off on the open road are unforgettable. And there is no better destination than…

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The family road trip is a summer rite of passage for all Americans. The memories made when you pack up the car and stuff the whole family into it to take off on the open road are unforgettable. And there is no better destination than one of the many United States National Parks.

With over 50 National Parks in 27 states it isn’t hard to find one close to home. This year is a great year to visit one you haven’t been to yet because The National Parks Service has announced that in 2017 they will waive fees in all parks on 10 dates. 

On 10 days you will be able to visit, for free admission, any of the National Parks that regularly charge a fee. The dates for free admission are:

January 16 – MLK Jr Day

February 20 – Presidents Day

April 15 & 16 – National Park Week

April 22 & 23 – National Park Week

August 25 – National Parks Service Birthday

September 30 – National Public Lands Day

November 11 & 12 – Veterans Day Weekend

In addition to these free days, the National Parks Service offers other discounts year round. Admission is free year round for active duty military and citizens with a permanent disability. The “Every Kid In A Park” is a program for 4th grade students to get a free pass and U. S. Citizens 62 and older can apply for a $10 lifetime pass. Take advantage of these special offers, and take the family to a National Park you have never seen before. 

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