I don’t want to use Airbnb for business travel — am I out of touch?

A reader writes:

I’m trying to figure out if business travel is changing, if my company is strange, or if I’m just a bit out of touch. I work in at a mid-size company in a role where I have to travel a few times each year to another of the company’s offices, as do several other teams. Last time I traveled was for a large event at one office, about a dozen other employees also flew in. In a cost-reduction effort, we were all instructed to take an Uber ($29 vs. $60 for a taxi) from the airport to the hotel where we would carpool in company cars to the office the following morning. No one else was flying in within three hours of me, and I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of climbing into a car alone with a minimally-vetted stranger at the airport, especially after all the horror stories I’ve seen about other young women being attacked by drivers. In the end, I ended up having my mom pick me up from the airport since she works in the area. (Real professional, I know.)

A few months later, three employees whom I indirectly work with visited my office from another office. A group of us went to dinner with them on their last night, and they asked if they could ride with us to the restaurant — not because they didn’t know the area, but because they didn’t have a rental car. They took a Lyft from the airport as well as to and from the office each day. I offered to drive them back after dinner, and asked which hotel they were in. I was pretty surprised when they told me they were actually staying in an Airbnb!

Am I wrong to think this is strange? Am I putting too much stock in chauffeur’s licenses and certificates of occupancy? I don’t take issue with people who want to ride in strangers’ cars or sleep in strangers’ houses on their own time to save money on transportation and lodging, but it’s not something I choose to do personally, and the idea of being asked to do so for mandatory business trips just rubs me the wrong way. In the event that I’m asked to do this next time I travel, would it come across as weird to push back? Have I become a change-averse, out-of-touch old fogey at the ripe old age of 27, or is this the new normal?

It’s becoming normal in some fields, but I don’t think you’re out of touch — particularly not on the Airbnbs.

I think you will find people who think you’re being overly cautious about Uber and Lyft, but most people are going to think it’s reasonable if you say, “I’m not comfortable using Airbnb so I’m going to book a hotel for myself.” If a manager ever pushes back on that, you can say, “This is a safety issue for me. I’ve read too much about problems with Airbnb to feel comfortable using it. I’m of course happy to choose a budget hotel, but I do feel strongly about going with a hotel, not a private home.”

And really, even with the car rides, you can probably just say, “I’ve read too many safety horror stories about Uber, so I plan to stick with traditional taxis.”

I’m really curious about what others think about this one — readers?

{ 1,098 comments… read them below }

  1. rosenstock

    I guess I’ve just used uber, lyft, and airbnb so many times myself (for work and non-work) that it’s become a non-issue for me, but to each their own.

      1. I GOTS TO KNOW!

        I feel like there are two layers here though that don’t both have to do with traveling alone.

        1) Uber/Lyft – alone factor

        2) AirBNB – not so much

        I am anti-AirBnB for work trips if it means everyone staying in one place. I don’t need to be sharing a bathroom and hallway and kitchen with my coworkers on a work trip. I need time to myself and shouldn’t have to feel self conscious about whatever my nighttime or morning routine is. If it is still just me in a place – eh, I can go with the flow.

        Uber / Lyft I will admit I am not a fan of taking alone. Nor taxis even really. Car service I have done on short trips alone and didn’t worry at all. Also, Uber business practices being as terrible as they are, I am also kind of morally opposed to supporting them. However, if it represents a significant difference, I think coordinating flights so multiple people can travel together in an Uber / Lyft is the best plan.

        1. Anonymoose

          I can see generational differences of opinions here. Especially as the younger folks are ‘generally’ more open to travel alternatives (think gap years, backpacking, etc). I say generally because I’m almost 40 and still love to backpack and stay in hostels. Way better cultural opportunities than staying in 4 star hotels, personally.

          That said, I would NEVER stay at an AirBnB with colleagues (I don’t need them to know my bathroom habits, yo!), nor have I ever taken Uber/Lyft and don’t plan to. Gives me the eeby geebies just thinking about it.

        2. OhBehave

          Possibly to put to rest questions of inexperience or to dispel the “back in my day” thoughts some may have about a more seasoned employee.

    1. EddieSherbert

      Same, and I am also a woman in my 20s. It’s fairly uncommon for me to be using any of those services alone, but I have occasionally used them by myself and didn’t really think twice about it.

    2. Sassy AE

      Where I live (a major metropolitan city with terrible, no-good, infrastructure and a certain obsession with four wheels) there are very few yellow cabs and if you do want one good luck. You’ll be waiting for about half-an-hour if you’re lucky. Using Uber and Lyft is cheap, faster and more convenient. A lot of private car services are on Uber anyway, so your driver is a “professional” more or less. Not a random Joe.

      1. Natalie

        I feel like I mention this every time Uber comes up, but whatever: just to clarify if you want a private car service on Uber you have to push the slider to Uber Black. UberX is going to be your Joe Private Citizen guys – in most places the private car services wouldn’t make enough to pay for their extra insurance, business license and so forth if they were on UberX.

        1. fposte

          Interestingly, my state won’t pay for Uber Black (or any premium), and it also won’t reimburse for trips taken during surge pricing.

          1. Dr Wizard, PhD

            Whereas my (govt) job is fine with paying taxis, but we have to provide justification if we’re taking a taxi twice in one day. Usually the note is just ‘because we need to get back too?’ but it’s a little comic.

            1. TrainerGirl

              A coworker and I had to do a training in LA a couple of years ago, and on our way back to the hotel, we figured out that we could just take the bus instead of a cab. We were told we could not expense the bus fare because we didn’t have a receipt. We were incredulous…it’s the bus! We saved $25 on cab fare, but we couldn’t get a lousy $3.50 back without a receipt. Since we we had the same issue with taking a taxi twice in one day, we figured out how to ride the subway to Hollywood for the evening (fyi…LA has one of the cleanest, nicest subways I’ve ever ridden on!) and once again saved a ton of money. Some of the travel rules are just ridiculous, but they did lead us to get creative and we had a great time on that trip.

              1. Statistics

                If you buy a ticket for public transit at a ticket machine, or buy a daily or other pass at a kiosk or a drugstore, often there will be the option to get a receipt.

                HR should also accept a paper pass issued as proof of payment—it’s good enough for transit cops.

        2. Decimus

          It’s more than UberX but Uber Black does bring you an actual private livery car, so it’s what we use if we Uber it. It’s certainly what I’d go with if I was directed to use Uber.

          1. Racheal Uselton

            But if they are being directed to use Uber instead of a taxi for monetary reasons, wouldn’t useing Uber Black have the opposite effect? In my experience Uber Black is almost as expensive as a traditional town car and certainly more expensive than a cab.

        3. Mabel

          Thanks, I didn’t know that. I use Lyft for business travel because I know I can get one at 4:30 a.m. or other very early/late times. The only exception was a recent trip to Groton, CT. At the time I wanted to leave for the train station in New London, the closest Lyft was 25 minutes away(!). It worked out, though, because I had left a lot of time for getting to the train.

          My former fiancee used to drive for Uber, and the drivers go through a lot of checks, including a thorough background check. I know there have been incidents, but it really seems to me that the drivers have more reason to be wary of the riders.

          1. yasmara

            Our travel group with my Very Large Company provided us with corporate links for both Uber and Lyft, however they would never ever suggest an AirBnB vs hotel. I’m a 40-something & I have no problem using those car services by myself for business. I do always have my phone out.

          2. Aitch Arr

            I can’t imagine there’s a lot of demand for Lyft / Uber in Groton/New London, unless it’s taking people to the casinos.

            (I grew up in the area.)

            /Off-Topic

        4. Cari

          Natalie
          January 9, 2018 at 11:18 am

          I feel like I mention this every time Uber comes up, but whatever: just to clarify if you want a private car service on Uber you have to push the slider to Uber Black. UberX is going to be your Joe Private Citizen guys – in most places the private car services wouldn’t make enough to pay for their extra insurance, business license and so forth if they were on UberX.

          This isn’t universally true, Natalie.
          When I take Uber in NYC suburbs it’s typically the same driver as my mom might call for a cab ride from [Insert Town Name Taxi]. So while it’s not Carmel or Dial 7, it isn’t Joe Schmo in his SUV.

          Personally (mid 30s, female). I’ll take Uber or Lyft in a new to me city because I don’t have to worry about the cab “not knowing” the area or refusing to go. It’s also a guarantee that they’ll take plastic, which makes reimbursements easier

          1. Anne

            Uber is more regulated in New York. All drivers are required to have a T&L license and plates, the same as a yellow (or green) cab, just without a medallion for the car.

            That’s unique to New York though, and maybe even to the New York City general area.

      2. Sterling

        I was always hesitant to use UBER and instead would find a cab. One day when running very late I hailed a cab and gave my destination. The cab driver berated me for the short trip, saying it wasn’t worth his time and to call an UBER. After that I started doing just that. I am in my early 30s and female. I always use UBER now.

        1. Ozma the Grouch

          That’s kinda crazy especially considering that cabs have a minimum travel fee regardless of distance/time. Usually they make more money off of the shorter trips than the longer ones. I’m not a taxi riding guru or anything (I use public transit for everything unless it’s an emergency/special occasion). But I am also one of those crazies that thinks 1-3 miles is walking distance??? (Exceptions being I am dressed up fancy, have a lot to carry, need to presentable when I get there).

          Sounds like your cabbie was having an off day and took it out on you. Which is no excuse for him, you didn’t deserve that. My issue with Uber are their business practices as a whole. I just can’t support a company like them. One of these days if/when I need a ride again I might give Lyft a try.

          1. TootsNYC

            yeah, lots of short trips are supposed to add up to more money, with the minimum (or, in NYC, a higher charge for the first time; the more first miles you get in an hour, the more money you make).

            Maybe he was thinking his tip would be lower, but if people are tipping a percentage, then it should come out roughly the same (or a little higher bcs of that “first mile”). And I know that if I have a small bill, I actually tip a higher percentage, bcs I have a minimum tip.

          2. Not The Droid You Are Looking For

            In Austin, before Uber and Lyft arrived, this was really, really common.

            Cabs would ask you where you were going before letting you in and if it was too short or too long, they would refuse the ride,

            1. fposte

              In Chicago, cabs in the Loop would tell you they didn’t know how to get to the South Side. (One particularly creative driver said he had “bad tires” that couldn’t take him south.)

            2. Arconcyl

              Still happens to me over in a non-US country. I live quite close to work so it can take 4-5 tries to find a three-wheeler willing to take me home.

            3. Heather Katrina

              This used to be super common in New York, too. Cabs would refuse to go to the boroughs, which sucked for Queens people like myself.

          3. Ellen N.

            Where I live, Los Angeles, CA, taxi drivers dislike short trips. This is because they have to drive to where the person who wants the taxi ride is. As we are a sprawled city, this can mean driving 20 minutes to drive the customer a mile. I’ve had several friends tell me that they’ve been chewed out by taxi drivers when they want to go a short distance.

            1. Elizabeth West

              Well, you can walk a mile. It takes maybe 20 minutes. Unless you’re late, but waiting for the cab would make you even later. By the time it got there, you could have walked.

              Disclaimer: Yes, I’ve hoofed it in L.A. (in Hollywood).

              1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life

                Caveat: Some of us can. Some can’t. Depending on the day, and pain levels, walking a mile would cripple me for the day and that would be a real problem on a business trip. But I tip higher if I desperately needed that lift for a short distance.

              2. Meeps

                Hollywood, walkable for the most part. Other areas of LA not so much, especially at night, and not to mention not everyone is capable of a mile walk.

        2. Not The Droid You Are Looking For

          When I lived in Chicago, trading cabbie horror stories was common happy hour fodder. Everyone has incidents and stories. The ranged from things like the credit card machine being broken to taking you a random route to drive up the fair, to sexual harassment.

          Knock on wood, even as an early adopter of Uber, I have never had an incident or even an uncomfortable moment in a ride share.

          1. The Coffee Cup

            I find that this is a worldwide thing. It is a sad statement to the state the taxi business has been that no one has shed a tear for them when Uber hit; I have rarely heard any support for the protests (I feel like a lot of groups would get a lot more sympathy) and to be honest I don’t feel much myself.

          2. meagain

            Funny, my most recent cab trip was millenium station to union station. It was $8. I had a $20. The guy didn’t have change for a $20, yelled at me for having a $20 bill, not a $10, and then when I was upset about having to pay via credit card (technology fee), he got pissed that I wouldn’t tip him. I’m of the opinion you should have change for basic bills. He wasn’t.

          3. Not a dr

            In the city I live tape in taxi’s I’d uncomfortably common. (this is in north America) so I think it does not make sense to be wary of uber drivers when traveling, but not of taxi drivers. Be wary of both or neither. I think op is putting to much faith in taxi’s. Expecially considering when Uber tells you the car info, which you can pass onto a friend or family member just in case, and many taxi’s a random one shows up, and you have no idea who is driving it or their cab number.

            1. Susana

              Taxi drivers have to go through a LOT more, in terms of background checks, tests, etc. A driver walked me through it once. It’s incredibly hunting. And with all the licenses they need and fees they have to pay – that’s why it can be more expensive than Uber. Except, of course, during gouge (or “surge”) pricing which had trips to the airpot here during a storm up around $300. So I don’t take Uber. And that’s even before we get to the company exec saying it should be called “Boober” because now he gets women due to his new status.

              1. MJLurver

                Wow! Where do you live? I need to start driving there.

                As a part time Uber driver in LA, I’ve never made more than $32 for an airport ride I provided …and that was from Malibu to LAX, about 18 miles of driving, the trip was 78 minutes long, and I received no tip after loading and unloading 3 huge suitcases and providing a safe and friendly drive ….gotta love those Los Angeles Uber passengers. :/

        3. Anonymoose

          I was recently berated by a cabbie for using a card. Not actually using the card, but informing him when I got in that I was using a card. Made me pull out the card and physically show him. (eyeroll) Apparently, cabbies get ditched all the time by ‘credit paying’ ridees.

          I doubt an Uber driver would have berated me. Hmph.

          1. Miles

            I’m actually surprised more cab companies aren’t using the same payment system as Uber. That seems to be the one thing the company does well besides scamming their drivers

        4. NorthernSoutherner

          I’ve never lived in a place where hailing a taxi was common (i.e., NY) but on a trip to London last year, coming out of Victoria Station, I had multiple cabbies tell me my destination was too short for them to bother (or words to that effect). It sucked bc my traveling companions and I would often be dead on our feet from a full day of walking, not to mention laden with bags.

          We walked it once, which was rough, so next time I went from cabbie to cabbie, asking till I found someone. Their eyes bugged when I tipped them. : )

            1. No Mas Pantalones

              Having lived here as well–this also works. Though I left in ’99 and when I came back for a visit several years later, I was rather impressed with how far the trolley had come along. Certainly didn’t fix everything, and North County may as well be a separate state (unless you’re near the Amtrak line).

              Related: I’d give a kidney for a carne asada burrito right now.

      3. AVP

        If you’re in NYC, Uber and Lyft drivers must be licensed the same way as black and green cab drivers anyway so it’s less of an issue. Often you find the same drivers as the outer-boroughs cab companies moonlighting so it’s not any less safe.

        1. NoCarConnie

          I’m from NYC and use apps all the time for this reason, but I was very surprised when I was in in Portland, ME and got picked up by private people in their own cars when I used Uber. So depending upon where OP is traveling too, it might not always be the case that these are specifically licensed folks.

          1. AVP

            Totally, I think the NYC approach is rare! Even outside of the city you’ll just get a regular citizen driver.

          2. Rainy

            I don’t use Uber unless I’m in a group, and the cities I’ve lived in since Uber came along, it’s randos in their private cars. I’m not in my 20s or incapable of defending myself in general, but the horror stories some of my friends have experienced in Ubers, combined with the fact that where I live it’s literally just rando dudes–I’m not really into it.

            And it’s not just harassment/assaults–someone I know has been in major collisions in Ubers *three times*, one of which hurt her pretty badly, and there wasn’t any recourse for her medical bills.

            1. Ozma the Grouch

              Yeah, I had a friend who was hit by an Uber while riding her bike and she was SOL when it came to getting the company to back their driver because as he was “just” a contractor. I’ve had a few friends (of all orientations) be harassed. And my neighbor who is disabled said Uber won’t accommodate him. Taxi’s aren’t perfect, but I have real issues with Uber as a company. Like I mentioned above. Next time I need to use a car service I will try out someone who is NOT Uber. Lucky for me, that is almost never. I will concede that I have plenty of friends who use Uber, who have never complained, and who even prefer it over Public Transit. (Which kind of blows my mind on a cost of living level).

          3. Heather Katrina

            I’m from New York and moved to Indianapolis, and was shocked to get picked up in a pick-up truck when Ubering here. The city standards definitely vary widely, but I will say that I’ve never had a bad experience in my smaller city.

      4. zora

        This is the thing for me. Certain cities have had terrible taxi infrastructure for ever, which is why I started using Uber in the first place back in 2009/10. If I was in NYC, I would probably do yellow cab because it’s so easy there, but in some cities you will be calling and waiting for a very long time if you want a registered taxi.

        I think the horror stories about Uber/Lyft are all a few years old at this point, I don’t feel they are any more dangerous than a regular cab. And, frankly, living in NYC in the early 2000s there were some pretty horrifying incidents involving young women traveling alone in good old registered Yellow Cabs. I’m not sure the medallion is some kind of silver bullet against a random dangerous person who wants to hurt people. Traveling and being in urban environments has a certain level of risk in and of itself, I’d be careful not to overblow it in your head.

        1. snow-in-the-desert

          “I think the horror stories about Uber/Lyft are all a few years old at this point”

          I mean. That kind of depends on where you are. A lot of people around here are shaken by the arrest last month of an Uber driver in Beirut, Lebanon, for the kidnap, rape and killing of a British diplomat. (Google “Rebecca Dykes.”)

          I realize most AAM readers don’t live in the Middle East, but I do, and unfortunately there is implicitly a certain level of risk involved any time a woman gets into a car driven by a man she does not know. The risk calculation difference between an Uber and a taxi can become meaningful.

          Where I live, getting around is very challenging for women, and Uber has made things much more convenient. But, personally, I don’t take Uber after a certain time of the evening, after things have started to get too quiet, because I cannot stomach the feeling of vulnerability and dread.

          1. Annoyed

            I’m in Seattle so statistically probably safer than somewhere like Beirut, but when I order an Uber/Lyft if the driver they are sending is a male I will cancel and try again. I know it’s not 100% but I feel safer with a woman driver.

        2. Xay

          This definitely depends on where you are – an Uber driver was charged for sexual assault of a passenger in Atlanta in December.

          That said, I think it is wise to be cautious whether you are in an Uber/Lyft/cab. I prefer Uber or Lyft because I can track where I am, but I avoid taking it alone in cities that I’m not familiar with.

          I can’t see doing AirBnB for business in general – it’s allowed, but I prefer the protections of dealing with a hotel than AirBnB.

          1. zora

            Interesting, I hadn’t heard that one, thank you. I haven’t heard any horror stories in my city in a long time. So yes, I think it does depend on where you are going.

          2. Rainy Days

            Whoa! I live in Atlanta and hadn’t heard of that arrest!

            I’m a mid-30s women and have felt comfortable using Uber alone for several years, including on business trips, because it always seemed so much more convenient and safe to me. Uber gives you a link to share your ride map with a friend in real-time, share car/info, etc.

            I also sometimes stay in Airbnb’s when I’m on personal travel, but for business, there’s no doubt I would expect to stay in my own hotel room.

        3. Carins

          My husband is a substance abuse counselor. He’s had 2 clients in the last 6 months who are Uber drivers and told him (rather cavalierly!) that they’ve absolutely been high on heroine and driving customers. I won’t take them. I call a real cab service.

            1. Sacred Ground

              F course there are. But they are far more likely to get busted eventually from a drug test or by a supervisor or by a customer complaint prompting an immediate investigation. None of that happens with Uber.

          1. dawbs

            Mr. Dawbs drives people (neither cabbie nor uber-type) for a living.
            He was just notified by his employer that as of January, the DOT testing would be expanded to include opiods.
            And by and large, the reaction was, “What the hell, why were we not testing for opiods before?”
            But apparently, they werne’t.
            (G’vt blurb: https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/dot8517)

          2. Sacred Ground

            People I know who drive Uber/Lyft do so specifically because they don’t have to worry about drug testing, as any taxi or limo service driver does.

      5. Specialk9

        Uber would have a hard time being *more* villainous than they are, they are cartoons of cartoon villains.

        The company is rife with misogyny that is rare in its open and proud ferocious maliciousness. They actually hired people to hack the medical information for a teenaged girl who was raped by one of their drivers in an attempt to prove she was lying, then showed her private medical history to male execs all across the company. They hired people to dox and harass female journalists who were reporting on Uber’s shady practices. They made an ad campaign for mostly naked models as ‘hot chick’ Uber drivers. The CEO brags publicly that he gets so much ass that he calls it “Boober”. Reports of managers groping subordinate women is rife.

        Uber systematically discriminates against people of color, and open homophobia is tolerated. They broke the strike over the Muslim Ban at airports.

        They got hacked of private information of 60 million people… and did an elaborate cover-up rather than reporting it. They set their app to track users’ movements (called “God view” FFS) to keep track of celebrities, exes, reporters, and anyone they wanted… Anyone at Uber could track anyone would needing approval. Uber self driving cars caused lots of dangerous traffic violations… which Uber covered up. They set up Greyball, software to evade law enforcement (because good actors always do things like that).

        They hired hundreds of people to schedule rides with their competition just to screw Lyft.

        Drivers were lied to about potential salary but get below minimum wage, and their complaint line got shut down rather than dealing with the problems

        1. One of the Sarahs

          Yeah, this is why I won’t use an Uber on principle (but I’m in the UK, taxis and minicabs are licensed here, and fine, no problems. I get that some people don’t care about the ethics, but to me it’s not worth saving a quid or two)

        2. Aeryn Sun

          Seriously yeah. I refuse to use Uber because of these practices. I use Lyft or regular cabs.

            1. MJLurver

              I was just coming back to say the same thing – Lyft is actually worse than Uber in many, many ways. I drive for both and used to keep Lyft up on a pedestal, but their corporate organization’s culture AND their treatment of drivers if often more atrocious than Uber’s, sadly.

              That being said, they’ve both helped me as a single mom of two teens with surviving this sometimes harsh world, so they’re a necessary part of my life for now.

      6. many bells down

        I don’t like using Uber, but where we live in the suburbs it’s really hard to get a cab INTO the city. There’s very rarely one available, even though there’s a cab company whose name specifies that they service our area. They have an app and everything.

        Once I’m in the city it’s easier to get a cab than anything. But getting there has been tricky.

        1. Gadget Hackwrench

          Lucky you. Up till July of 2017 neither of the ride shares operated in my area. Livery Cabs only and good luck getting one if you’re not already inside the city.

      7. M-C

        But the point of Uber is precisely that you’re getting a radom Joe. It’s their entire business model. That there might be some professionals in the mix doesn’t change that, and those are not there in their professional capacity

      8. Red 5

        I wonder if we’re in the same city. I’ve never been able to find a cab when I might need one, and there’s one particularly important destination in my city that is not at all public transit friendly for no good reason I can figure out so you pretty much have to take a cab or use an app.

        I’ve used Lyft way more than Uber lately, and prefer it, but I’ve not really had a ton of qualms with using it, either in a business context or otherwise. I avoid it if there’s a way to usually because I hate the expense (I grew up where cabs didn’t exist so the idea of paying for a cab if there are other options just feels weird to me but I get that’s just me).

        Last time I got a Lyft, the driver ended up being a local bus driver on his day off. So it’s not like I’d never encountered him before either.

    3. L.

      Early 30s woman traveling alone, and yeah, I’ve never used Uber or Lyft (not out of safety but just opportunity – the taxis in my city are usually just as cheap and convenient), but I’ve used AirBnb tons of times personally and wouldn’t bat an eye at using one for work if the opportunity arose. Depending on where you’re staying (e.g. Paris) you can get a MUCH nicer AirBnb than hotel, and I don’t think it’s any less safe than a hotel, if you’re renting the entire place.

      1. Anonymous Lawya

        Just a note that the laws in Paris recently changed (or they recently started being enforced) and as of this month you should be VERY wary about getting an AirBnB that does not list their registration number. Otherwise you run a much higher risk of having it get shut down and your reservation canceled last minute.

        1. L.

          Oh, very interesting! I was last there in 2013, it was just the first place I thought of that had expensive hotels and better AirBnb options. But I think when you’re using a service like AirBnb, it’s really important also to do your due diligence – read the reviews, check the area you’re staying in, make sure they’re following all the local regulations. Which is one argument I’ll accept for why not to use it for business – then again, I’ve ended up in some sketchy guesthouses in my work travels too.

      2. AVP

        I’ve used Airbnb a lot for personal travel (alone and with my partner) and my only hesitation about using it for work would be work-specific issues – like worrying if the Wifi would work as well as I needed it to. I’ve had a few issues with Airbnb that I wouldn’t have in a proper hotel, like power going out in a less-than-first-world country (a hotel would’ve had a generator) and hot water being less than wholly available – things that I don’t really mind on a vacation but might hamper a work trip. But those are really my only hesitations.

        early-30s F here for reference.

        1. Mabel

          I have used Airbnb several times for personal travel, and I usually wouldn’t think of it for work travel, but I needed to travel to NYC last year when the Pope was there, and I think there was also a major sporting event going on. I didn’t book a hotel early enough, and all I could find was economy hotels way out in Queens or in NJ. I was not going to spend that much time traveling to/from the hotel, so I found an Airbnb in west Harlem (I used to live in Harlem, so I’m most comfortable there). It was a nice, clean, pre-war apartment, and my only 2 complaints were (1) there were several other people (strangers to me) renting other rooms in the apt., and (2) there was only one bathroom. The stay was uneventful, so it ended up fine, but if I needed to do that again, I’d probably try to find a small apt. where I would have the whole thing to myself.

        2. Red 5

          I’ve actually only used Airbnb for work travel, but that’s because it was for my own business and I was trying to save money. Since I was paying the bill, and was staying in cities (or I was traveling during major events) the hotel prices were just absurd and the Airbnb helped me defray costs.

          Generally, it was fine. But it would not at all sit well with me if this was a trip that my current company was planning and paying for. I’m not expensive, they could put me in almost any kind of hotel they wanted, but if I’m going to stay in an Airbnb there is no way I’m letting somebody else do the searching and booking etc.

          I have nothing against the company or the concept in general, but for business travel, unless you are your own small business and you are booking it for yourself, it’s just…there’s something about it that doesn’t sit right.

          Uber though, I actually can completely see. I had to book a Lyft for a work thing last year, because they needed me to get across town in a hurry and they knew I didn’t drive into the office that day. I don’t think they cared what kind of car I got (Uber, taxi, whatever) but I had to get there. They reimbursed me and it was fine. It is odd to tell you that you can only use one particular service and not just say “get a car from the airport and let us know what/how much.”

      3. zora

        Same here, I’ve used AirBnB since i was in my early 30s many times, and I’ve never felt unsafe. I am meticulous about reading reviews (they must have many reviews, I won’t stay with a new host) and having an email conversation with my hosts before I book, so I make sure I’m pretty sure what I’m getting into. But I’ve only ever stayed with lovely, friendly people who provided a

        However, I can totally see not wanting to stay in an AirBnB on my company’s dime. If a company ever insisted I stay in one, it would strike me as pretty penny-pinching on the backs of their employees, which I don’t appreciate. I would also probably say I would rather get a budget hotel.

        But my company has added AirBnB/vacation rentals to the travel policy as optional. They assume most people stay in hotels, but if an employee wanted to do AirBnB they would be allowed to, as long as the costs were comparable to a hotel.

        For personal travel I like AirBnBs because I love having a kitchen available to use instead of having to eat out all the time. Especially for longer trips.

        1. Specialk9

          I have always had great experience with Airbnb (one actually baked a birthday cake for my kid!). I’d read reviews carefully, though.

        2. Academic Addie

          This is how I feel about it. AirBnB makes travel with my kid and dog much easier, but I wouldn’t like to feel like I was forced into staying in an AirBnB. I also don’t like being told I can’t stay in an AirBnB.

          So I guess I just want the freedom to make decisions like an adult on work travel.

        3. Marissa

          I’ve used airbnb a few times for group and solo vacations and never actually felt unsafe, but I once when staying in a lovely London flat made the mistake of not realizing I’d LOST my KEY until 10:30 at night, at which point the host wasn’t answering their phone… Fortunately she was local and able to provide a replacement the next morning (especially as I was flying out the next day), but I still had to find a hotel to waltz into with just my purse around 1 in the morning, which was super fun.

          These are situations I’m not trying to replicate for myself or others on a work trip and I’ve since pushed back when it was suggested as a lodging option for a principal of a very low budget organization I work with. I think the extra piece of mind is more than worth it.

    4. my two cents

      Early 30’s female engineer here, and I tend to prefer Lyft over cabs (especially so for work travel). Though, I did have about a decade worth of uncomfortable cab rides where the driver ‘couldn’t take a card’ or ‘the machine was down’ or I’d just get involuntarily ‘rerouted’ a longer way to run the meter (super obvious when in Vegas) and it was always a struggle to get a printed receipt.

      1. rosenstock

        totally agree about the ease of use with lyfts/ubers. I’ve been in many yellow cabs (I live in nyc) where I’ve had to give the driver directions by reading off my phone, and with lyft/uber they have the directions right there themselves. and the payment is so easy. receipt in your email. all done. and no re-routing because you can see on your phone where you’re going.

        1. Uberist

          The relevant question is not whether someone has ever had a bad experience in an Uber. The question is whether that happens more frequently with Uber than with incumbent yellow taxicabs. I am quite skeptical on that point. Uber keeps a record of every ride. Incumbent cab companies don’t. I have had many, many bad drivers in yellow taxicabs; in my experience, that is far less true of Uber.

          I think the use of Uber is widespread enough that the company is well-justified in asking its employees to use Uber, particularly if they aren’t limited to Uber X.

          AirBnB? Well, I think that’s a little bit of a different story, because a business-quality hotel offers services (restaurants, dry-cleaning, fitness rooms, etc.) that an AirBnB does not. If you’re in a smaller company that never paid for “business quality hotels,” it may still work.

          1. Lissa

            I think the problem is that with any safety issue, there’s two issues – actual safety/statistics of where problems happen, vs. perceived safety. I have found in my experience that telling people that X activity is actually safer than Y statistically usually does NOT get a good reaction – people go with what “feels” safe rather than what is, and base that off anecdotal stories, media reports, and one or two prior experiences. But I haven’t really found a way to avoid that happening…

            1. zora

              This is true, I’m not saying this information will necessarily change the OP’s mind or feelings of safety. But I will add to Uberist that as a young woman living alone in NYC for many years before Uber existed that I heard many horror stories about awful things happening to women in yellow cabs back then. I don’t think the medallion magically protects against the random bad person that wants to hurt someone. I would bet that is equally as likely to happen in a regular cab as in an Uber or Lyft.

              But it’s still up to the OP to decide which feels safer to her. I just want to point out that’s not the result I get from my personal safety calculus. And it can be useful to look into the actual statistics instead of letting our minds run away with an overblown fear. (Prime example would be the fear of terrorist attacks in the US versus gun violence).

            2. TootsNYC

              And I would say that people are entitled to value their perceived safety.

              Because they live inside their own heads, with their own worries and fears.

          2. Mike C.

            Uber also has massive problems following the law, respecting intellectual property and treating women with basic respect. That might not be an issue for everyone, but it’s an issue for a whole lot of us.

            1. kitryan

              This is my issue with Uber – our company uses it now and I have moral and legal issues with it, more than safety issues (though there’s a smidgen of that too).
              Now, everyone should have the ability to use their preferred service and to weigh the pros and cons for their own situation, but I also have that right, as does the LW, and I’ve felt pressured on some occasions to use Uber – similarly to the LW. For work, I try to use public transport- which works for me, since I don’t have off site meetings, I don’t need transport often. If I did have work travel more frequently, it would be more difficult to navigate, since the office has a genuine cost savings argument for its use and I would be asking them to pay more for me specifically, in direct cost and in the processing of separate charges/reimbursements. But it doesn’t sound like the LW is being told to use a business account, so I don’t know if there would be the same administrative savings in play.

            2. LBK

              Genuine question: do cab drivers actually have a notably less sullied history with regards to sexual assault? Are there any kind of statistics available on this?

              I’m not a woman but as a gay man I’ve pretty much had nothing but horrible experiences with regular cabs. If they’ll even go near gay neighborhoods/gay bars, good luck getting them to pick you up, and I’ve been harassed in cabs and even thrown out of a cab once. From my perspective I think the gay community was actually some of the earliest adopters of Uber et al because of that –
              there was a long period where it was ubiquitous among my gay friends but still many of my straight friends & colleagues had never even heard of that kind of app. I’ve literally never had a problem with an Uber or Lyft; I don’t use Uber anymore because I don’t like their business practices, but from a personal experience perspective, Uber unquestionably wins vs cabs.

              I also don’t really understand how cabs are better from an accountability perspective. If I have a bad Lyft experience, I literally have a picture of my driver, their name, license plate, description of their car and a detailed record of the trip including the times and route taken logged in my phone automatically. If I have a bad experience with a cab and I didn’t manage to get their medallion number, there’s basically nothing I can do.

              Now, if Uber’s not doing their due diligence to vet drivers beforehand and they’re not responding acceptably to reports of problems after (which as I understand it, they aren’t), that’s obviously an issue. But comparing the two on their face, it’s just mind boggling to me to position cabs as the safer, more accountable option.

              1. zora

                Yeah, I’m on the same page as you. I don’t like Uber’s business practices or their leadership choices, but I don’t see regular cab companies as some silver bullet for my safety as a woman traveling alone. I personally chose to use Lyft because their leadership took a stand on the immigration issue, and they have supported social justice organizations I care about. But I don’t feel like one of those three options is vastly safer or more accountable or less problematic than the others. It’s not like we ever heard tons of stories of privately owned taxi companies vetting drivers or adequately dealing with reports of harassment or assault.

                Not that I want to tell the OP she is wrong, she has to do her own safety calculus and that’s up to her. But as a woman, traveling alone through an urban environment has risks no matter which form of transportation I use.

              2. Mike C.

                Look, you can make whatever choice you want, and I realize that cabs are crappy to work with and that individual situations may throw the balance one way or the other.

                What I’m really trying to get at here is that a lot of these services have a lot of significant problems and externalities. Furthermore, cabs are regulated and in many places Uber is not. That’s going to be more accountability right there – they’re licensed for commercial driving, they hold business licenses, that sort of things. Cabs can certainly be terrible like any business can be terrible, but there’s a minimum standard that isn’t always met by the newer systems.

                Furthermore, Uber has a reputation with not only ignoring the law, but actively going out of their way to evade law enforcement. “Greyball” was the program in question if I’m not mistaken. Your run of the mill crappy cab isn’t going to huge, systemic lengths to evade law enforcement.

                I don’t want to paint conventional cabs as perfect because frankly many are terrible, but you can make improvements without having to go to such great lengths to break the law.

                1. LBK

                  I guess my point is that for all people point to cabs being regulated, licensed, etc. I don’t see what benefit that ultimately produces. It seems that there’s an inherent trust implied that regulated = better, but in what ways? You say “there’s a minimum standard that isn’t always met” but in my experience the “minimum standard” has been far exceeded by cabs vs Ubers; I guess it’s a question of what you believe those minimum standards to be. For me, it’s my personal experience of taking a trip. Knowing the cab driver that threw me out was licensed and regulated doesn’t really do me any good in getting home at 2am.

                2. Ann O'Nemity

                  Eh, I don’t think the old “cabs are regulated, Uber isn’t” argument is valid any longer. I read an article last year that said most states (45ish?) regulate ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft. My own state’s regulations for cabs and Uber are very similar (licensing, background checks, insurance, vehicle safety standards).

              1. M-C

                The frat boys may not be representative, but they do set the standards for recruit the drivers. And when you have a problem with a driver, they will be evaluating your credibility, and whether the offense is offensive enough in their eyes to take action. And further, the frat boys being the public face of the company means that mostly frat-boy-friendly people will self-select to apply to drive for them to begin with. So sorry, even if you’re not riding with one directly, they do matter

                1. LBK

                  And further, the frat boys being the public face of the company means that mostly frat-boy-friendly people will self-select to apply to drive for them to begin with.

                  Uh, what? I have to wonder how often you’ve taken Uber, especially in a city. I take Lyft almost every weekend and my drivers tend to be POC and/or women, basically the polar opposite of the typical frat boy. Where on earth are you getting this information?

              2. Specialk9

                Maya, the problem is that Uber is rotten to the core. You apparently think it’s just execs being sexist, maybe? But they lost 60 million customer data files, and HID IT. So all these people with hacked credit cards didn’t know so couldn’t get a new one, much less offering free credit monitoring like most companies do. I’m not sure why you think this isn’t a big deal or just fratty behavior. They are legit Mafia level corrupt and criminal. (Search for my user name in this thread for the full details.)

                1. MJLurver

                  I’m not a pro-Uber fanatic, believe me. They are pretty crappy as an corporate organization and they keep stomping on their drivers. BUT – please don’t kid yourself – Lyft is not much better. They both have their pros and cons when considering their corporate culture and the way they treat their drivers. Lyft is actually gaining in the race for who can dupe their drivers the most, and from what I’ve seen, Lyft does more shady things to their drivers than Uber does, which is saying a lot.

                  I drive for both (I’m female), and try to provide excellent service to each and every passenger that enters my vehicle. I find it odd when I hear people saying Lyft is so much more ethical and fair than Uber. Trust me, they’re not. They’re about equal (for drivers) except it’s harder to make money on Lyft. That’s really the only difference at this point: Uber is busier and seems to be the lesser of two evils (from a driver’s perspective). I have a friend (more of an aquaintance) who works for Lyft corporate and he thinks it’s hilarious that the public has this belief that Lyft wears a permanent halo. Sexism runs rampant at Lyft too, but we don’t hear about it as much.

                  All of that being said, both companies provide astoundingly inexpensive transportation to thousands (millions?) of people every day, and they’ve also made much of the world more accessible to folks who normally wouldn’t be able to get around in private cars, which is terrific.

            3. Uberist

              1. On “following the law,” if Uber had not been willing to color outside the lines, it would never have survived the taxi cab lobby onslaught. If someone can take on lobbyists, I say GOOD. The fact that so many members of the public in places like DC and now London are joining behind Uber’s efforts shows that the strategy worked.

              2. Oooo, they didn’t “respect” intellectual property. Scaaaary. Show me an electronics product that is 100% compliant with all IP. Cross-licensing is the name of the game in tech (except biotech, but that’s a different world.

              3. On women, yes, you have a point there, but that also applies to many technology companies, not just Uber. And it’s not like yellow cab companies weren’t a pinup environment.

              1. Specialk9

                Uberist, just to be clear, you are ok with Uber ‘not coloring inside the line’ by criminal hacking and sharing of private medical info of a woman attacked by an Uber driver. You’re ok with them covering up a huge data breach. You’re ok with them covering up serious safety problems with their self driving cars. You’re ok with rampant ugly misogyny, homophobia, and racism.

                Wow.

                Or are you just somehow hugely ignorant of all of these incidents, despite them being well publicized and regularly aggregated for ease of reference, and despite having an easy alterative in the form of Lyft?

                1. Uberist

                  What I am OK with is Uber starting operations in cities without shutting down every time a local government says, “but you need a taxicab license.” We as consumers do not need lobbyists from the taxicab industry determining our transportation choices. Consumers have time and again voted with their feet to say they are happy with Uber’s level of regulation. Had Uber kowtowed to every local government, it never would have launched. And the same is true of Lyft.

                  I am, of course, not OK with Uber delving into private medical information or covering up data breaches. (Uber’s new CEO is not OK with it, either, so I guess in your book companies are forever marked as evil, even if new leadership tries to address your beef with the company.) These issues do not mean I need to boycott a company forever. It means that the company incurs whatever civil penalties get applied. I don’t agree with how United Airlines treated Dr. Dao, either, but that incident doesn’t mean I stop flying the airline.

                  By all means, use Lyft if you prefer. For me, Lyft does not work, because it only operates in the US, whereas Uber operates all over the world. Since I first and foremost look to
                  patronize companies to satisfy my wants as a consumer, rather than a statement of social activism, I don’t care about isolated incidents.

                  I also would like to know where you think Uber has “rampant” homophobia and racism. (Sexism, maybe, although Uber is far from the only technology company to face this issue, and if you’re boycotting all of them, you might as well live in a cave.) As noted downthread, many LBGT people are loyal to Uber because incumbent taxi companies refused to serve them.

                2. Engineer Girl

                  Uberist: I see several logic flaws.
                  First, the changes at Uber are very, very recent. We can’t know that the company culture has changed at all. It is way too soon to tell. As far as most are concerned, the company gets a “time out” until it is proven they have changed.

                  Second, there is absolutely no “maybe” about sexism. There’s been several incidents. It is systemic. It is far worse than many tech companies in the Valley. And I’m saying this as a female engineer that works in the Valley.
                  There is sexism here, but there is also a matter of degree. Uber is way up there in bad behavior. So your logic is a false equivalency.

            4. NaoNao

              Thank you! I don’t use Uber *at all*. I don’t drive by choice, and only use Lyft, public transpo, or my feet.

          3. Safetykats

            Yeah, but Uber also had the credit card theft coverup. I would totally take Uber with a company card, but I’m not going to give them my credit card info.

            1. JerseyGirl

              “I also don’t really understand how cabs are better from an accountability perspective. If I have a bad Lyft experience, I literally have a picture of my driver, their name, license plate, description of their car and a detailed record of the trip including the times and route taken logged in my phone automatically. If I have a bad experience with a cab and I didn’t manage to get their medallion number, there’s basically nothing I can do.” THIS!

              Also, if you don’t like Uber’s policies or reputation… just take Lyft! Same thing. I use both Uber and Lyft interchangeably and always prefer it to a taxi. (for reference I am late 20s Jersey girl who commutes to NYC for work daily). So I’m in an urban area where it can be hard to get yellow cars, they are more expensive, and Uber/Lyft is easier because I dont’ have to worry about having cash, pulling out my credit card, I can wait inside when it’s cold or rainy, and I prefer the fact that my ride is tracked (like the commenter above said) for safety reasons. So if anything happens, I can easily file a report or somebody can find me. It’s more convenient, less expensive, and I feel safer.

              Taxi drivers can be bad people just the same as Uber drivers can… the medallian doesn’t change anything about that. I’ve had bad drivers in yellow cabs as often as with Uber.

              As for Airbnb… I’ve only rented out entire homes with a group of people and I loved it. I would prefer a hotel if I was on my own….but I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to an Airbnb if I had the entire home and they had a lot of good reviews.

          4. MCMonkeyBean

            Yeah, I think asking them to take an Uber instead of a cab is 100% reasonable, but asking them to take an AirBnB seems less so–but I guess that’s not actually what happened anyway, for all we know the people she spoke with chose to do an AirBnB because they were able to get better options than what hotels were offering on their company’s budget. I think if LW’s company actually asked her to use AirBnB it would be easy to push back and say she’d be more comfortable with a hotel.

          5. Engineer Girl

            Uber is so morally bankrupt that I could never use them. I’ve had great experiences with Lyft though.
            But Uber has:
            • breached privacy (God view)
            • kept records of rides longer than they should
            • continues to track riders after they have left the vehicle
            • used technology to spoof regulators
            • blatently sexually harassed discriminated against female engineers
            • stolen technology from other companies (Waymo)
            • illegally accessed medical records of Uber rape victims
            • charged riders for the long way home instead of the optimal route

            1. Mike C.

              This is a great list. Cab companies generally suck, but this is a completely different league.

              1. Specialk9

                *Doxxed and harassed reporters
                *Hired hundreds of people to schedule and cancel Lyft rides
                *Treated female ‘hot chick’ drivers like prostitutes
                *Systematically discriminate against people of color
                *Tolerates open loud homophobia
                *Created software specifically to evade law enforcement
                *Covered up a hack of 60 million users’ private information.
                *Covered up serious traffic violations of their self driving cars.

                1. Engineer Girl

                  Failed to get permits for their self driving cars! The cars ran red lights because of flawed software.

                2. Question

                  *Doxxed and harassed reporters

                  Why are reporters such gods that they get to criticize everyone ad infinitum but never get a taste of their own medicine? If they’re reporting on the government, sure, I see why this wouldn’t be a bad thing. But these are business reporters covering private companies.

                3. Library Land

                  Re: Question
                  “Why are reporters such gods that they get to criticize everyone ad infinitum but never get a taste of their own medicine? ”

                  I’d suggest looking up the definitions of ‘criticizing’, ‘doxxing’, and ‘harassing’ because one of those is not even close to the league of the other two. No one deserves to be doxxed or harassed, full stop.

                4. Engineer Girl

                  Question: in this case they used private data from the reporters rides to out their location. They did this after the reporter wrote an article critical of the CEO.
                  That’s retaliation.

                5. Specialk9

                  “Why are reporters such gods that they get to criticize everyone ad infinitum but never get a taste of their own medicine?”

                  You’re freaking kidding me. Doxxing is not equivalent to reporting on things one does and says.

                  This is such a repugnant thing to defend and justify.

              2. CG

                Lyft is lovely. I think people are debating apples and oranges here – Uber the company vs individual cab drivers.

                Hands down, as a woman who travels a lot alone for work and personally, ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber are far better than taxis IMO. But I’ve had a lot of really gross and unsafe experiences in taxis, and I love removing some of that uncertainty (and having easy access to info about my driver/receipts/recompense via online customer service).

              3. BigLaw Midlevel

                maybe cabs in some cities are great safe options but definitely not everywhere. I’ve had credit card numbers stolen, cabs refuse to turn on a meter, cabs pretend they can’t take cards, cabs refuse to drive on airport property and not tell me until we got about half a mile from the airport, cabs purposefully drive a longer route, cabdrivers who smoked pot with me in the cab, all sorts of creepy awful sexual harassment in cabs.

                1. Uberist

                  I first went to Istanbul 10 years ago, where you had to essentially agree on a price for your ride with the taxi driver before you got in. In one case, I had a driver agree on a price, start the ride, and then demand double what we had agreed. He grew very angry, almost violent, when I demanded to get out of the car.

                  My latest visit? I used Uber, and the experience was completely seamless, same as everywhere.

                  Similarly, I went to Mexico City about 8 years ago. Same story, everyone warns you not to use the green VW bug taxis, which forced you to use “hotel taxis” at inflated prices. Now, you get an Uber to the airport.

                  I really couldn’t care less about Uber’s internal management. If it’s such a terrible place to work, people are allowed to quit, last I looked. From a customer perspective their user experience is excellent.

                2. Engineer Girl

                  Uberist: in this case the company is violating state and federal laws.
                  * they failed to get permits for thier self driving cars. They ran several red lights and lied about it. They only stopped because the California DMV pulled the vehicle registrations, making it illegal to drive the cars.
                  * they systemically discriminates agaist female engineers (an EEOC violation). They also sexually harassed them.
                  * they used stolen technology from Waymo.
                  * they failed to report hacked credit cards information after a data breach.
                  * they failed to pay their drivers the correct amount, which is wage theft.
                  * they illegally accessed a rape victim medical data
                  All of these are violations of state and federal law. This isn’t just bad management.

                3. Uberist

                  I invite using any IT product that potentially infringes on someone’s IP. Perhaps you might have some old incandescent light bulbs left, although I wouldn’t even bet on that.

                4. Engineer Girl

                  False equivalency.
                  In this case the exec downloaded the documents then left, formed another company, and then all of a sudden Uber had the technology.
                  In short, it’s a matter of degree.

                  There’s a difference between borrowing tech and outright stealing it.

            2. LBK

              All of those are valid reasons that I don’t use Uber anymore, but I have to say on that last one you’re kidding yourself if you think no cab driver has ever ripped someone off by taking a longer route.

              1. Engineer Girl

                But Uber was keeping the profit and not giving it to the driver. A whole new level of scum.

                1. MonicaLane

                  Uber actually has never turned a profit. I am a former driver. Yeah I wish I was paid more, but at the end of the day, the company is hemorrhaging money.

                2. Uberist

                  Let’s say Uber treats its drivers so terribly. Is someone forcing them to keep driving for Uber?

                  The economy is doing well and these days most likely have alternatives. And a lot of Uber drivers are doing it casually. Twice a week I drive about 50 miles for meetings, and I have signed up as an Uber driver and will give rides during that time.

                3. LBK

                  Huh? That doesn’t really make sense unless they were skimming the extra off the driver’s check after the fact. If the driver gets a percentage of the fare, then they’d benefit directly. If the driver gets a flat rate, there would be no benefit to them to take a longer route, so they just…wouldn’t. It’s not like the Uber app was taking over the wheel and forcing them to drive a certain route.

                4. Engineer Girl

                  Uber was charging the rider for the long route while paying the driver for the short route.
                  That’s wage theft.

            3. London Engineer

              Plus there was the time they circulated the medical records of that woman who was raped in an Uber and was suing in India around the company to try and find a way to discredit her

      2. Hc600

        In NYC cabs are decent but in the small city I live in now the cab drivers are universally awful. Driving dangerously (watching a football game while driving!), won’t take credit, don’t know where anything is, and dirty/smelly cars. Uber and lyft drivers tend to be much better. And there’s a record of the trip with their info so they’re unlikely to use the opportunity to abduct you.

      3. K

        Through my 20s, I’ve ridden all the car services many times for work and as a solo female traveler. For me, the most sketchiest rides were in a taxi. The most memorable experience was with a taxi who ‘couldn’t take a card’ and then proceeded to drive me to an atm to get cash. Otherwise the other option was to drive to her husband’s car who had the card reader to god knows where. This was also 10 pm at night from the airport to the hotel, where I had no idea of the city and was honestly pretty scared until we finally reached the hotel. So yes, I prefer an Uber/Lyft where I can see where we’re going and who’s driving me. Knock on wood that if any crime does happen, I at least have recorded evidence of who, where, and when. And yea, card readers are annoying and paper receipts are a pain for reimbursement so it’s a comfort knowing all the information I need is in my email.

        1. Jess

          Me too! I complain a fair amount about uber x drivers who don’t know their way around (yes, they have gps, but it makes a huge difference in DC when you have a driver who actually knows the city—esp. in my neighborhood which always has extensive construction work going on blocking streets), but I’ve never had any issues with safety in uber/lyft. I’ve been using uber in DC since its inception, but I’ve also used it in at least a dozen different cities on travel as well. The only times I’ve actually been mistreated or threatened or felt unsafe have all been in cabs—and I’ve had some seriously sketchy experiences in cabs. I only ever take cabs now when I’m leaving someplace that has cabs lined up outside waiting b/c I’m lazy and it’s easier to grab the cab right in front of me than to wait for an uber. (I’m a 30-yr-old female.)

      4. Manders

        Yes, I’ve had some very uncomfortable experiences with cab drivers doing shady or unsafe things. I actually prefer Lyft because it gives you a much easier way of tracking who your driver is and escalating complaints to someone who’ll actually listen–cab companies never seemed to care much if you called to let them know their driver was doing something unsafe.

        My AirBnB experiences have been all over the map, but I’ve never felt unsafe using it (although I did get locked out at night once because the owner gave me the wrong key and turned off her phone). My advice: don’t book the cheapest option available, look for something just a step below what a hotel would cost.

        (Late 20s female, I’ve been using rideshares since they got popular around my mid-20s)

        1. my two cents

          I think the perceived safety of a cab vs rideshare app perspective differs greatly between having to routinely call a cab to collect you (or being picked up at a major airports’ cab stand) vs catching a cab curbside on a regular basis. Calling and scheduling a taxi pick-up is the dial-up analog to using a rideshare app, in a sense. But I don’t think I’d ever feel comfortable hailing a cab curbside, and if I have to get a cab from the airport at least I can move to the next guy in the lineup if the first one claims their card reader is down.

          1. Manders

            Ah, you’re totally right that where you’re catching the cab can change the perception of safety. Around the time I started using rideshare apps to get home from the bar on the weekends, my only other options were 1) flagging down a cab at random on a dark street or 2) hoping that an unreliable bus would come something close to on time while I was waiting alone in the dark for it. Calling a cab could mean an hour or more of waiting, so rideshares definitely felt easier and safer than my other options.

      5. Optimistic Prime

        Yeah, I lived in New York before and then for a little while after ridesharing deployed there, and I think I’ve been too jaded by experiences with taxis to think that they are better or safer than Lyft or Uber. Taxis in New York are better now with their card machines and I know enough about the city not to get taken the scenic route (and, in classic fashion, am not afraid to ask a cabbie why he is taking a particular route), but I’ve gotten into too many arguments with cabbies and zero arguments with Uber/Lyft drivers.

      6. Tuxedo Cat

        I’ve had issues with cabs often enough- creepy cab drivers, cab drivers refusing to take a card, taking the long route, not showing up for a scheduled ride- I now use Lyft. I’m not convinced that cabs are any safer, TBH; I’ve had no problems with Lyft.

        I’m early 30s and small and female.

    5. Dani

      Same here, at least for Uber. Honestly if someone said they found Uber too dangerous to use I would think they were a little out-of-touch; besides, it’s not like no one has ever been assaulted in a taxi. But, I wouldn’t force an employee to use Uber if they felt it was a safety issue.

      The AirBnB thing I understand more, though I exclusively use AirBnB when I travel for business now because I prefer it. But staying in a private residence is just a totally different thing than staying in a hotel, in my opinion, more so than a private car vs a taxi.

      1. CR

        Yeah, really out of touch. An Uber is a lot safer than a taxi – at least with Ubers you know exactly who is driving you, the car make and license, and there’s a record of the trip.

        It’s 2018, OP. Time to embrace it.

        1. AnonEMoose

          I think that last line is a little unkind to the OP, personally.

          I wouldn’t necessarily object to using Uber on safety grounds. But I would absolutely object based on my concerns about their business practices and company culture. I don’t want to give them any of my money. That said, if my company insisted, I’d probably do so, because in the end it would be my company’s money and not mine – but I’d at least raise the concern.

          1. Anna Held

            Yeah, I’d worry more about having to download their app and give them my information. And I wouldn’t worry so much about assault as weird charges and the like — I’ve heard plenty of those stories. Taxis are licensed, and most places take that seriously; it’s not as though you’re riding blind. They post the license!

            1. Uberist

              But there’s no real record of the taxi ride. And despite the taxi “license,” I’ve had yellow cabbies (1) drive horribly in general, (2) purposely run red lights, (3) purposely turn left within a hair of incoming traffic and then turn around to tell me “ya gotta be aggressive with these guys” (in a thick Boston accent. Outside of London, and nowhere else, do I have much respect for the skills of incumbent taxi drivers.

              1. Rusty Shackelford

                I had a London cab driver charge less than the actual cost of a trip, because we asked her how much it would cost and she estimated incorrectly. Love. (Yeah, we tipped more than enough to make up for it.)

                1. Laura

                  I don’t know when this happened, Rusty, but London cab drivers have got a LOT better since Uber came in! Suddenly they need to be pleasant and at least offer to help you with your cases…

                2. Rusty Shackelford

                  Laura, it was about six years ago. The only other cab driver we had on that trip took us on a long and probably very indirect route to our hotel, but he was so entertaining and the trip turned out to be a nice sightseeing experience so we just considered it a little paid tour. ;-)

              2. Mike C.

                This doesn’t excuse the massive list of crappy things Uber does. You don’t seem to be willing to address these issues for some reason.

              3. Sacred Ground

                That’s the second time you’ve made the claim that there’s no record of taxi rides. This is flat out wrong. I just started driving for a large taxi company in a large city. I have to keep a written record of every single ride, listing the start location, drop off location, number of passengers, total fare, surcharges, subsidy coupons for the elderly, and payment method. For every single ride. It’s called a trip sheet, it’s required by state law, and my job and license are on the line if I don’t keep it accurately. It’s also not a new thing at all: when I drove a taxi for a much smaller company in a much smaller city 27 years ago, before gps and mobile internet devices, the trip sheet was the only essential paper record we had. It’s how we got paid.

                Maybe things are different wherever you are. It’s absolutely not true here, nor was it true in the other state I worked in 27 years ago.

                Further, my cab is equipped with GPS that constantly tracks its location and stores that data. It will tell my employer when I’m speeding. I have cameras as well, one facing forward and another covering the interior, that continuously record and store video all the time. This is as much for my protection as for passengers, plenty of shady customers lodge false complaints to get out of paying fares. It also allows the safety supervisors at my company to check on my driving as well as my interactions with passengers.

                Long hauling is not tolerated. The company will fire anyone with more than 3 complaints in a year. The state taxi authority will fine me and the company. They take it very seriously here. To take anything but the shortest distance route, I must ask the passengers first. I find that often there’s another route that will be a slightly longer distance but shorter time (taking the freeway instead of surface streets, for example), as long as I describe it as such, most customers are cool with spending a few bucks more for a quicker ride. If they try to claim later that I longhauled them, the recording will back me up.

                Yes, of course there are still drivers who will try to cheat you. In what industry is that not true? But here you have recourse, an agency that isn’t the company that will investigate all claims. They love to bust long haulers.

                Good luck getting satisfaction for your complaints with Uber.

                I have a taxi license issued by the state taxi authority. To get it I had to submit to, and pay for, a thorough criminal background check. Im required to display the license visible to the passengers at all times. Want my name, photo, and license number? Snap a pic of it with your phone.

                I’m also subject to random drug testing. Or not so random, if they have any suspicion. Or if I’m at fault in any accident. And I had to pass a DoT physical, just like truck drivers do, and must keep the medical card with me at all times. This shows I’m physically safe to drive, not likely to fall unconscious due to diabetes, a heart condition, or epilepsy.

                My car is equipped with a credit/debit card reader. I actually prefer when people use it as it save me the trouble and risk of handling cash and making change.

                Receipts are automatically printed at the end of each ride. Most riders don’t bother taking it, but if you want one it’s right there.

                My rides and records are kept by a built in tablet that syncs to the taximeter. Besides receiving “radio” calls from the dispatcher on it, passengers can use the Curb app from their smart phones to call me directly. This app hails the nearest taxi or can call a specific driver. It also handles payment. Basically, it works just like the Uber and Lyft apps except you get a real taxi. The tablet also has a gps map function, but it’s a bit outdated so I prefer to use the app on my phone and my local knowledge. After eighteen years in this city, I know it pretty well.

                The car also has a “magic eye” system that warns me when I’m veering out of a Lane or changing lanes without signaling or following too closely. At first I found it annoying, but now that I’ve adjusted my driving to keep it from beeping, I’m driving much safer now. It works.

                The company is limited by the state as to how long it can keep a car on the road (5 years) and maintenance/repair records are audited by the state as well. I’m required to inspect the car myself before every shift, and mechanics are always available to fix even the most minor problems. So the car’s safe.

                And there’s never any doubt as to whether the company is properly insured, again due to close scrutiny by the state regulators.

                None of the above is true for Uber.

                1. Cool Runnings

                  Do you give that trip sheet and all the other info to the passenger? If not, then Uber, for me, is a much better experience because I, the passenger, have that info at my fingertips easily and always accessible.

            2. neeko

              The diver of a rideshare has your first name. That’s it. A taxi driver could get your name when you hand over your credit card just as easily.

              1. HQetc

                Yes, but the *company* has your full name, credit card info, fairly extensive information about where you’ve been (see God mode, and the fact that, when I last checked, Uber *still* tracks passengers for up to 5 minutes before and after their ride), and whatever other info the app’s permissions let them access. An individual cab driver has more information that the Uber driver, sure, but the company has waaaaay more and are in a position to do a lot more with that info than a cabbie. Don’t get me wrong, I use Lyft (woman, late 20’s, don’t use Uber for ethical reasons rather than safety ones) but people are arguing that not using rideshares is “out of touch” when, in fact, there are a lot of very tech-savvy reasons to use a cab rather than a rideshare. (Just to state my own bias, my grad research focused on privacy issues in tech, so I have a pretty strong slant there.)

                1. neeko

                  Sure. I think I misunderstood the concern being addressed in this particular point. I’ve seen people fearful about Uber drivers knowing their name and I thought this same concern was being raised.

            3. BigLaw Midlevel

              taxis aren’t licensed by the state of Texas, the third most populous state in the USA

          2. Ambarish

            > But I would absolutely object based on my concerns about their business practices and company culture.

            What about Lyft then? The OP mentions Lyft as well.

            1. MeowThai

              Lyft has better employee practices, so in my case, I feel pretty good about giving my money to them. I’ve heard that the background checks they do during hiring are more rigorous than Uber, but that was back when both of these apps were newer. But ask any driver and you’ll find that Lyft is more highly regarded than Uber as an employer.

              1. Optimistic Prime

                True! I actually have asked drivers who drive for both out of curiosity, and most of them will openly tell you that Lyft is way better than Uber in a variety of ways. The only reason that many of them stay with Uber is because Uber has more mindshare, and more riders.

                1. HQetc

                  Yeah, most of the drivers I’ve asked are signed up with both, because they don’t want to miss out on Uber business, but they prefer Left. Also, just to add to the anti-Uber pile-on here, arguably one of the reasons Uber has a larger market share is Left actually made a lot more effort to sort out regulations before expanding, whereas Uber took a much more “ask for forgiveness, not permission” approach, and actively tried to evade regulations, which allowed them to move faster than Lyft.

              1. Specialk9

                No. Seriously no. Lyft doesn’t just have better PR, Uber is actively criminal and vicious and horrible. I posted a list, but it hangs up in moderation because of the key words. Google “Uber bad practices” and read, and gasp in horror. It’s hard to believe how truly evil they are.

              2. HQetc

                Yeah, I have to agree with Specialk9 here. It’s not that Lyft is an amazing moral beacon, necessarily, but Uber has some *really* awful practices, legally, and with how they manage employees (drivers and engineers), and with how they treat customer privacy, etc.

                1. Stephanie

                  Ah, ok. Fair points re Uber. I think I’m still just uncomfortable with the core business model of low-paid independent contracting (which I know isn’t limited to just the ridesharing services)

                2. Specialk9

                  Stephanie, all good points. I have a good friend who drives for both companies, and is strategic about best fares and locations, and is currently on the verge of bankruptcy. It’s certainly not the $90k salary Uber promised! Especially not after car maintenance, wear and tear, cleaning, and gas.

            2. AnonEMoose

              I’ve heard that Lyft is better, but haven’t yet done sufficient research to have an opinion. Before using them, I’d want to have an idea of their practices around insurance, for example. If the driver is involved in a crash while I’m in their car, will insurance cover any injuries?

              That’s another of my concerns with ride sharing services in general – my understanding is that at least some insurance companies wouldn’t cover it, because the car is being used in a way that isn’t included in the policy. I don’t know if things might have changed recently, or if Lyft carries the appropriate insurance or requires their drivers to do so. And while it’s not incredibly likely it would happen, car crashes aren’t incredibly uncommon, either.

              1. pcake

                The Uber drivers I’ve spoken to don’t even know they should have any insurance other than personal. I spoke to my insurance company and a couple of others, and they say that a paying passenger would not be covered by regular personal insurance.

                1. LegalStaff

                  The Lyft link doesn’t mention personal injury protection (PIP) coverage for riders and others, though. It only mentions comp and collision.

                2. AnonEMoose

                  Meant to be a reply to Mike C., but out of nesting.

                  That’s a really interesting question, and I imagine it would result in some really intriguing conversations between insurance company lawyers. No idea, though, as IANAL – not even close.

          3. Jess

            But then you could also use lyft. I feel like a lot of people refer to “uber” as almost a catchall when they really mean “uber or lyft.” Objecting specifically to uber as a company b/c of its business practices is entirely different from objecting to the use of ride-sharing apps in general.

            1. Specialk9

              Great point. I wish people would stop using the name of a morally bankrupt ahole company as a shorthand for a whole industry. But there it is.

        2. Calliope

          “An Uber is a lot safer than a taxi – at least with Ubers you know exactly who is driving you, the car make and license, and there’s a record of the trip.”

          That’s on opinion only. A lot of people disagree for equally valid reasons. For example, the background checks and regulatory structure for taxis could be a reason that they would be safer.

          We simply do not know.

          Everyone who has ever tried to look at this objectively has determined there is no way – at present – to determine factually and scientifically if uber/lyft, private cars, or taxis are safer.

          Why? We don’t have the data.

          (1) No major cities/metro areas that have been asked keep crime data on assaults by the location (e.g., uber v. taxi)
          (2) A lot of assaults and safety violations go unreported.

          Any statement on what is safer v. what is no safer is simply an opinion.

          https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/03/are-taxis-safer-than-uber/386207/

          https://www.dallasnews.com/news/news/2016/02/28/which-is-safer-uber-or-a-taxi

          1. Uberist

            “Any statement on what is safer v. what is no safer is simply an opinion.”

            That is simply untrue. For example, there is real data saying that plane travel is safer than car travel.

            1. JHunz

              But plane travel is not one of “uber/lyft, private cars, or taxis”. It could not be any more irrelevant to the point.

              1. Teacher

                Yes’m, if your company is asking you to take an uber instead of an airplane, you have bigger problems.

          2. Safetykats

            Yes. Until there are actual safety statistics, people are making judgements on safety based in opinion and anecdotal evidence. And the plural of anecdotes is not data.

            1. Optimistic Prime

              You know, people always say this, but actually several anecdotes IS data. Data is information, variables; a truthful anecdote is a type of qualitative data. And quantitative data is really just made up of a string of incidents that have happened to people. (And if we want to really get into the weeds, the word “data” is not valenced – there’s good data and bad data. So lots of anecdotes with half-truths and lies technically still is data, just bad data.)

              You often can’t draw valid comparative or causal conclusions if you don’t have *enough* anecdotes, but it’s rare that people have perfectly valid and statistically significant data to make decisions so they use the data they have.

              I’m not saying this simply to be word nitpicky, or even specifically as a response to you. It’s more about the larger point that making decisions with limited, qualitative data isn’t always a bad thing because sometimes, that’s all we have. (Now, it can be bad if the data we have is misinterpreted or misleading or used in the wrong way.)

              1. Mary

                Yes, the”plural of anecdotes” thing drives me barmy too! Yes, systematically collected data is the gold standard, but if you don’t have that, don’t dismiss the data you do have!

          3. Racheal

            The simple fact that Uber keeps a record of my travel from the moment I request a car, as opposed to a cab, which does not, makes me feel safer. There is never a 100% guarantee that a driver isn’t psycho, but the fact that police could easily trace a person back to their latest uber trip is hopefully a huge deterrent against crimes of opportunity.

        3. Calliope

          “Uber is a lot safer than a taxi”

          That’s a matter of opinion only. There’s no data one way or the other.

          Google and read some articles. We simply do not know.

          1. Specialk9

            I mean, we know that Uber actively spies on people using “Gods view” and nobody needs approval to follow the movements of their ex or a celebrity. We know that they stole medical records of a girl of color victim of their driver and passed them around freely to countless white male execs. We know they revealed addresses of female journalists who reported on their shady/criminal practices. We know that they after they got hacked of 60 Mill customers’ data, they did an elaborate cover-up instead of reporting or making it right.

            There is tons of data that Uber is unsafe in every way.

        4. Ersong

          You can also send your route to someone. Any time I get in a Lyft on my own, I send a text to my husband so he can see when I’m dropped off. If I ever get murdered by a Lyft driver, at least there will be a record of where the car went.

        5. JeanLouiseFinch

          You might think that the OP is out of touch, but have you looked at the insurance/liability issues where every driver is an independent contractor? It doesn’t matter if your driver gets a bad review if you are named as a defendant in a law suit involving his/her poor driving. You may or may not be potentially liable under state agency/principal laws, but who will pay for your defense? Typically, under the laws governing cabs, the taxi company is considered to be the sole employer, end of story. This might not be true in the case of Uber or Lyft, depending on the state.

          1. Natalie

            Typically, under the laws governing cabs, the taxi company is considered to be the sole employer, end of story.

            Sadly no, taxi drivers are independent contractors as well and have been for decades. There are a couple of cases that just entered the court system recently, but haven’t been decided yet.

        6. zora

          “It’s 2018, OP. Time to embrace it.”
          Absolutely not. I would also have a private thought that the OP is a little out of touch, if she said she felt safer taking taxis. But it is absolutely inappropriate to tell a woman she is wrong and should change how she feels. Not to mention against the culture of this site. There is no need to be mean. You can point out that you would come to a different conclusion, but every woman should be allowed to make her own decisions about what feels safe without being told she’s wrong.

          1. Jess

            That doesn’t seem entirely right. I agree every woman is entitled to make her own decisions about safety, but I don’t think it’s inappropriate to tell a woman she’s wrong. (Yes, I’m a woman.) Adults get to make their own decisions and can disregard other people’s opinions about whether they’re right or wrong as they so choose, but that doesn’t mean other people can’t offer those opinions or that my personal feelings are inherently right. It should be especially ok to do on a site offering advice to people who write in specifically to get other opinions in order to better calibrate their own sense of what’s right or wrong, appropriate or inappropriate.

            (Obviously feelings are feelings so not necessarily ever right or wrong, but if I feel afraid based on my erroneous perceptions of safety it is absolutely appropriate to tell me why you think my perceptions are wrong and my fear irrational. There is nothing sacred about my feelings regarding my safety.)

            1. zora

              I think there’s a difference between saying “I actually feel differently, that Uber is more safe than cabs” and saying “Get over it, OP.” At least on this blog, specifically, that is very dismissive and pretty rude. But I also think it’s in general not a good way to approach safety discussions.

              If a woman was raped in a parking lot and doesn’t feel safe in parking lots by herself, I’m not going to respond by saying “No, you’re wrong, parking lots are safe, get over it.” I think there is a personal aspect to safety, and we can point out differences of opinion, but telling someone their feeling of safety is “wrong” is inappropriate.

      2. LaGrange

        This is how I feel as well about Uber. I’m confused why the OP thinks Uber is oh-so-scary and taxis are not. Taxis are far more dangerous (and more dirty!) in my 40 years of experience. Unlike taxis, ride-sharing services rely on user feedback, and are kicked off the platform if a rider reports a serious problem. Taxis are rarely regulated in the same way.

        I’m really curious if the OP’s fears are limited to ride-sharing and staying in someone else’s home, or if they’re symptoms of larger anxiety issues about urban life.

        1. Calliope

          Really unkind to OP and factually untrue.

          I’m curious why you are reading into OP’s mental state or reasons. That would seem to be a bit to far.

          Everyone commenting on here is stating opinion as fact.

          We do not know if Uber is safer or more dangerous. There’s no data.

          There’s a few really great articles on this that make it clear that we don’t know what’s safer.

          For every point you make about safety, there are equal counter points (e.g., background checks, safety regulations for taxis).

          Any POV on safety is an opinion only.

          1. Uberist

            “We do not know if Uber is safer or more dangerous. There’s no data.”

            If there is literally no data either way, the logical inference would be that an employer is justified in flipping a coin to decide as between Uber and incumbent taxicab companies (or more realistically, go with whichever is cheaper).

            1. Cam

              Well… no. If there’s no data regarding a new product’s safety, then the new product should not be used. The FDA certainly doesn’t say “well we don’t know if this drug is any more dangerous than Tylenol, so might as well take either one”. Taxis have been around forever and there is data on them. They are not the issue.

              1. Uberist

                But in your example, there is a control group. There is data on the safety of Tylenol. According to Calliope, there is no data on the safety of yellow cabs.

              2. Anoynmous Coward

                And that is why there are many complaints that the FDA does not approve safe and effective drugs often enough.

                BTW – Tylenol is an example. It would never get approved today due to its side effects adn therapeutic index.

              3. Jess

                Tylenol is not a good example here. First, b/c OTC drugs with ingredients already on the approved list (e.g., acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol) don’t need FDA approval to be put on the market. Second, b/c it’s unlikely Tylenol would have been approved had current FDA standards been in place at that time given the known dangers of acetaminophen, as someone already said above. It’s actually an example of people erroneously assuming that what is familiar is safer.

              4. BigLaw Midlevel

                Is there data on taxis? Like real data that doesn’t just substitute the safety numbers for taxis in a state like NY where there is strict regulation and licensing for a state like Texas where there is no statewide regulation of cab drivers? I don’t think there is.

                1. fposte

                  A very, very quick Google suggested to me that data on taxi incidents within a city/licensing authority area would be a heck of a lot easier to find than data about cabs nationally. However, there was a really interesting Atlantic article on safety in rideshare vs. taxis from a couple of years ago that I’ll link in followup, and one point it makes is that the way statistics are kept and crimes reported means that that information sometimes isn’t in the data in the first place. While rideshare policy and regs evolve so fast that some of this may have changed since then, I thought the article was a pretty illuminating look at the question.

          2. LBK

            If you can’t make a statistical argument either way, then it seems to me from a systematic perspective Uber/Lyft clearly win based on the built-in accountability of having a record of every single ride you take including the driver’s name, photo and license plate number.

            1. Specialk9

              Clearly Uber is the least safe option in every way. They regularly do coverups instead of addressing problems (massive customer data hack, self driving car safety issues, drivers attacking riders) and they spend their time trying to discredit and attack people reporting on the problems. They go out of their way to discriminate massively against anyone who’s not white, male, and straight. You, your movements, and your credit card are not safe with Uber.

              1. LBK

                Looking at Uber as a company, I certainly agree, and I don’t use them anymore as a result of their business practices. I’m talking solely about the individual experience of taking an Uber, not anything broader than that.

                Out of curiosity, is there anything backing up the assertion that cab companies/unions have historically been better on these points?

          3. Detective Amy Santiago

            But it is a fact that when you take Uber/Lyft, your ride is being GPS tracked. That is not the case with a taxi.

            And that fact makes a lot of people feel safer.

        2. ContentWrangler

          However, taxis are regulated in a fairly important way – background checks – that Ubers and Lyfts really aren’t. Ride sharing companies have actually fought legal battles to avoid having to do as stringent background checks as taxi companies. I don’t think the OP is out of line to prefer vetted forms of transportation and accommodation. It’s not like they’re harping on other people who choose to use them. I don’t think calling OP scared or over-anxious is fair. They’re just making a personal choice about how to travel alone and feel comfortable.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago

            Uber and Lyft drivers are required to undergo background checks when they join the platform. I’m not sure where this idea comes from that they aren’t.

            1. The Ginger Ginger

              The problem being that Uber, at least, let’s people drive before their background check comes back. Or at least did in the past. Lyft I’m not sure about.

                1. Safetykats

                  We just for Uber at our local airport, and only after the city backed down on a fingerprinting requirement for drivers. The taxi drivers are fingerprinted as part of their background check. So right off the bat we are enforcing a lower level of vetting for Uber drivers, at least locally. My understanding is that it is not Uber’s policy to require fingerprints, which was the source of the dispute, but I could be wrong.

              1. Drago Cucina

                My husband used to be an Uber driver and he wasn’t allowed to drive before his background check, car inspection, and verification of insurance came through. His car had to be a much higher quality than the local cabs. He used to drive a cab in NYC and was surprised at the level of thoroughness in vetting him before allowing him to drive.

              2. Lindz

                Definitely not true. I drove for both Uber and Lyft (over the past 2 years) and you can’t do anything until the background check is complete, drivers license and insurance has been verified, and the car has been inspected by a certified mechanic.

                1. Specialk9

                  Then how come that Uber driver in India who raped a passenger had a criminal record? He was awaiting trial for 4 separate charges of rape, molestation, and firearms charges. He had previously been charged and acquitted of rape.

                  (And we all know how Uber responded, by defending him, calling the woman a liar, hacking her medical records, and passing them around.)

            2. Samata

              I actually work with someone who signed up to be a Uber driver part time and he didn’t have to do any background check. He said he just downloaded the app, signed up as a driver and now he randomly turns on his app when he drives into work some mornings to see if he can get some extra cash.

              Unless he somehow got grandfathered in, there was really not an in depth process when it first came to our town.

          2. MadMadAlwaysMad

            I’ve know fairly sketchy people who drove cabs at one point or another in their lives (one acquaintance with DUI’s was hired) . If cab companies are doing background checks, they are doing pretty minimal ones. I’ve used town car services, Uber (before all of the controversy) and Lyft all over the US and never had a bad experience. Can’t say the same about my experience with taxis.

        3. Breda

          I think it’s not about urban life, but about regulation vs. crowdsourcing. Some people trust user reviews more; some people trust laws & licenses more. Neither is wrong.

          (I also think about that one xkcd comic where the guy is putting, like, one rabid badger in every hundred eBay shipments, and his rating is 99% positive.)

        4. k.k

          I live in an urban area and have plenty of taxi and ride share experience. By a landslide, Lyft and Uber win in the categories of cleanliness and my perceived safety (I’m a 30 year old woman and have gone solo many times). With ride-shares, I know the name of the driver before they arrive, have record of my trip, and can easily report any issues. Lyft has a feature where you can share your route with someone, so if you’re worried you can have someone know exactly where you are in real time. Taxis are a total crapshoot. Assuming it’s light out, maybe I can read the thing with the drivers name and info on it, and I might remember to glance at the cab number before I get it…and maybe I’ll remember it?

        5. Letter Writer

          Letter Writer here. I’ll be honest, I’ve taken a taxi/car service less than 10 times in my life, and all but one time I was not riding alone. Generally I rent a car on my trips, and if there were a good public transit option from the Detroit airport to the smaller city where my company is located, I’d take it. I don’t have an issue riding buses/subways/trains/streetcars if I’m visiting a city that has these things. In general, I’m safety/privacy/security-minded. I don’t want to put myself in situations where Bad Things can happen, and if they do happen, I want to feel confident I have some recourse. (I know bad things can happen anywhere, but there’s a difference between being alone in someone’s car/house with them vs. on a bus or in a hotel.)

          I don’t have anxiety issues about urban life, but I’m certainly cautious with what I install on my phone/computer and in my home and what information I allow companies to collect about me.

          1. CR

            I mean this nicely, but if you don’t have experience with normal city things like taxis or Uber, then I think you do have anxiety issues because they’re unfamiliar.

            Honestly, take the Uber. You’ll be fine. You might even enjoy it! So convenient and inexpensive!

              1. Annabelle

                Eh, I don’t think saying “it seems as if you’re nervous about this particular type of thing” is the same as saying “clearly you have generalized anxiety disorder.”

              2. One of the Sarahs

                +1. I have to say, aside from the corporate evil, the way a subsection of Uber (& AirBnB) fans talk to and about people who don’t embrace them, puts me right off the company. Unfair to drivers, I’m sure, but it just asides to my distaste for the company (Lyft fans seem a bit evangelical, but a lot more “I love it and I bet you would too!!!11!” than “You’re stupid/a dinosaur not to like Uber”.

                (I stress, Not All Uber Fans, but this has come up in tons of fora and in real life, enough to make me think it’s not a coincidence).

                1. Tiny Soprano

                  Exactly, and given the OP’s concerns about informational privacy and security are entirely legitimate, I don’t think it’s fair to imply she’s backwards or needlessly anxious.

                  And as we’ve seen in the comments, personal safety is perceived subjectively and is also highly dependent on which city/country you’re in. So again, when travelling to a city that’s not her own, the OP is within her rights to feel uncomfortable about using a ride-share or AirBnB, and might not want the additional burden of doing heaps of research when she could just book a hotel.

                  From my point of view the real issue is how to sort this out with the company. That seems to be where the pressure comes from. I’ve worked in places where hotels and taxis were the norm, and places where AirBnB and Uber were the norm, and if you’re in the latter then you’ll probably have to recite Alison’s scripts ad nauseum to get them to comply, unfortunately.

            1. Triangle Pose

              100% Agree. OP, you can choose to feel this way but you need to accept that you may be seen out of touch or that your employer won’t give you push back. I have experience in DTW airport and I’d be miffed as your manager if you insisted on taking a $60-$80 taxi when the company policy is to take uber or lyft. Uber black is regulated at the same level as taxis and it is STILL cheaper in that area.

              If you work at a tech company or any SF connected company or in any sort of innovation focused field, this sort of issue about work travel at a junior level is not going to read well.

              1. Letter Writer

                I think you’re making a couple incorrect assumptions here.

                Company policy is not, as far as I know, to take an Uber or Lyft. Having a large amount of people traveling at once to another office is, in my division, really rare. Rental cars are most common, though depending how long they’re staying, sometimes people book at the (2x more expensive) hotel within walking distance from the office. Our travel booking tool (Concur) has preferred rental car companies and hotel chains highlighted for us, but this trip was a one-off where many people were flying in (and we were even booked at a non-preferred hotel, probably because we were getting a group rate). Certainly no one has said anything about “policy” being to use these services; we were merely asked to for an event where 12 people renting 12 cars wouldn’t make any sense.

                And while I do work at a tech company, it’s a company that’s still traditional in many ways. Even though the employees skew younger (< 30), upper management skews older. I'm not at an especially junior level, either — I've been with the company for over 5 years (since I graduated) and I manage a small team. I have a bit of political capital I can spend, but wrote in because I was unsure whether spending it here would be futile if I found myself in this situation.

                1. fposte

                  Oh, when you said you were instructed to take Uber or Lyft, I thought that was a company policy. Was it just a bee in an individual manager’s bonnet? I was with the people who thought that that wasn’t a big cost savings and wondered about that. I think if it’s just an individual manager’s whim there’s more room for pushback. I think a rental car is likely to be a hard sell, but in your example of coming in from the airport, shuttle services are really common even at some smaller airports and would avoid the on-your-own problem. (And of course some cities have great public transportation from their airports, which is sometimes faster than the road.)

                  While it probably won’t fit the way you travel, it’s also really common at conventions for people to turn taxis into impromptu mini-shuttles in the airport taxi queue–“Anybody else want to go to the Hilton?” will get you several other people to ride in with.

                2. Triangle Pose

                  You said “In a cost-reduction effort, we were all instructed to take an Uber ($29 vs. $60 for a taxi) from the airport to the hotel where we would carpool in company cars to the office the following morning.” This sounds like a policy to me, but if I’m wrong and it’s a one-time thing, I think it is all the more reason not to push back and spend your political capital on this. It sounds like you want to be told you won’t be viewed differently for pushing back on being told to take uber/lyft or use airbnb for business purposes and in my experience if you lay out the reasons you’ve put in your letter, that’s just not true.

            2. Aveline

              “Normal city things”

              Waaay out of line. Site rules require you to be kind. This is very unkind and judgmental.

              Also, your definition of normal city is not universal.

              I know a not in significant number of people who live in NYC, LA, Chicago, and London, who have never done your definition of “normal city things”

              1. Triangle Pose

                Saying that taxis and Uber are normal city things is definitely not out of line. Bless your heart.

                1. fposte

                  I think if you follow the thread people were more taking exception to the notion that there was something wrong with the OP for being uncomfortable with taxis and Uber; it wasn’t really a dispute about the relative presence of taxis in various metropolitan areas.

                  And bless *all* of us, every one :-).

            3. Berliner

              LOL, I’ve lived in a large city (Berlin, Germany) all my life and I’ve taken a taxi maybe six or seven times in those 35 years. It’s at least ten times more expensive than public transportation and has nothing to do with urban anxiety cap or whatever. Maybe check your privileges?

              1. AnonEMoose

                I’ve also lived in a fairly major urban area for nearly 30 years. And I’ve probably taken a taxi no more than 10 times – probably less – in that time. I’ve either taken public transportation, driven, or gotten the occasional ride from a friend.

              2. SignalLost

                I’ve lived in major urban areas all of my life. I’ve taken taxis maaaaaybe 12 times? Public transit gets me where I need to go if my car can’t. I’ve also taken taxis too and from airports on my (two) business trips. There’s nothing at all about taking a taxi that is “a normal city thing”.

              3. Elizabeth West

                This–I only take cabs if I absolutely have to. Especially in London, where they’re mega-expensive compared to public transport, and I have a working transport card. It’s just not necessary. At home, I drive and the only time I use cabs is to go to the airport if I don’t want to put my car in long-term parking.

            4. Violet Fox

              I live in a major European capital. Uber is *ILLEGAL* here. Never used it, never will. It’s been years since I took a taxi. Either drive myself or take public transit. Saying that these are “normally city things, suck it up buttercup” is incredibly disingenuous and rude.

            5. Specialk9

              Don’t take an Uber. If anything, take a Lyft. Seriously, see ether whole thread above on why Uber is thoroughly morally bankrupt and not to be trusted with your credit card info or location info. They’re bad guys, through and through.

              1. MJLurver

                They’re BOTH “not great” – as corporations and how they treat their drivers. Take it from me, as a driver for both I think I have an unbiased but educated view. Neither are perfect but they’re both cheap, safe, monitored, saved in the app, and quite regulated (as far as current background checks on drivers, etc. Maybe a little too late, but true nonetheless).

                people keep talking about how they hear scary stories about Uber drivers, but please remember that about 90% of the drivers who drive for Uber also drive for Lyft – they’re the same drivers across the board.

          2. zora

            If you feel safer renting a car, you should feel free to say so when planning business travel. I would do differently myself, but it’s not up to me, you should do you.

            I think any good company should allow some leeway budget-wise to their employees that are more vulnerable when traveling. If a big, strong guy feels safe taking public transit late at night, that’s fine. But women, people with disabilities or just physically not as able, should be encouraged to make choices for their safety as long as it’s within reason.

            And that should definitely include an individual saying they would feel safer renting a car rather than relying on taxis, or staying in a hotel rather than an AirBnB. I think Alison’s advice is right on, you should feel perfectly justified gently pushing back on any manager in the future by saying “I feel safer doing X” and if you ever got tons of push back on that from an employer, I think that is a signal to move on. Reasonable employers don’t want their employees to feel unsafe while they are out there making money for the business.

            1. travel agent

              “Reasonable employers don’t want their employees to feel unsafe while they are out there making money for the business.”

              No, but it’s unreasonable for an employee to insist on NEVER using a taxi or Uber and instead demand a rental car. There may be scenarios where a rental car is cheaper than a taxi/Uber for the same trip, but there are also scenarios where it would be vastly more expensive. In most places (yes, there are exceptions, like Mexico City), both taxis and Ubers are ultimately safe and are hardly the same as asking someone to take public transit late at night.

            2. fposte

              I’d be really surprised if most companies were willing to pay for renting (and, presumably, parking) a car just because the employee thought they’d feel safer that way; granted, I’m coming at this as a state employee, but in my experience employee preference has very limited impact on the employer’s reimbursement bands.

              1. zora

                What if it was an ADA accommodation for someone? I don’t feel like only looking at the bottom line is really an appropriate way to do it. I’m not saying that a company should sign off on literally any expense, but I think they should be willing to listen and discuss the options with an employee if they say they have safety concerns. Of course it should all be within reason. But if a boss immediately said “No” and insisted someone always use an Uber instead of a Taxi, or vice versa, I would think they were pretty terrible. I think it’s a valid concern and something an employer should be willing to at least consider the different options.

                1. zora

                  And in some locations parking is basically free, and a rental car wouldn’t be much more than cabs. In other locations (like my city) it’s the opposite and parking is crazy expensive. But that’s not a universal thing depending on where they are usually traveling.

                2. fposte

                  I think it’s not so much all about the bottom line–the requirements usually aren’t that people stay in the cheapest fleabag hotel, after all–as it is that a company pays for an expected level of transportation and accommodation. If you don’t feel safe in Marriotts but do in the Four Seasons, they’re not likely to pay for the Four Seasons, because Marriotts are a standard and generally acceptable level of accommodation. I think the OP’s question is “Is asking for a rental car and a hotel out of the usual level of transportation and accommodation?” And I think a hotel isn’t for most employers (and it sounds like it might not usually be at the OP’s job, but it wasn’t entirely clear), but asking for a rental car from the airport, which is what the OP’s preference seemed to be, is likely to be if you’re talking a situation with a possibility of a $60 round trip otherwise.

                  Basically, not many companies can afford to say to their employees “We’ll pay for you to get there however you want and to stay wherever you want”; if an employee can’t be comfortable with the norms of that employer or that field (like, mine is a field where people share rooms a lot), she’s generally faced with the options of covering the difference herself or finding an employer with a policy better suited to her preferences.

                  A disability accommodation is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish from being willing to pay more because of somebody’s perception of safety. I suspect even my state employer would have wiggle room for allowable transportation if you have a disability that can’t be accommodated by cabs and UberX. But feeling less safe doesn’t constitute a disability that needs accommodation.

                3. fposte

                  FWIW and BTW, I thought the OP asked a perfectly reasonable question here, especially since it sounds like this was special to this one trip, and it’s been really interesting to me to hear how many different transportation policies employers seem to have.

                4. zora

                  fposte: I mostly agree with you. I don’t think there’s no limit. But in the OP’s case, I do think it’s reasonable for her to bring this up as a request with her employer, depending on what they are asking her to do, and I think they should be willing to at least have the discussion.

                  I’m telling her it is reasonable for her to mention, and if her employer is a jerk and refuses to even consider her safety concerns, they are the ones being unreasonable.

          3. Yada Yada Yada

            LW, former Michigander here! Sorry people are being quite rude to you, maybe I can shed some light for people who don’t get it. Being from middle America, especially a smaller town, is so much different from being from one of the coasts or a more “mainstream” part of America. I moved far away from home after college, but before then I had probably used a taxi less than like 3 times, so you’re ahead of me there! I understand your hesitance to do some things that are less familiar and seem unsafe because that totally used to be me. I hope this doesn’t come across as condescending but my experiences might help. I found that once I left home, I experienced a lot of things that weren’t typical for my family to do, but that so many other people considered normal. Even for people without anxiety adult life can be stressful and scary when you come from a smaller place. You say you avoid situations where Bad Things might happen and of course this is a good idea (assuming one doesn’t take it too far, which in my opinion many people out there do). But I learned that there are TONS of things that weren’t done in my family growing up that were totally normal for other people, and I embraced it! The general rule of thumb I used was that if tons of other people were ok with something, and I found these people to be generally rational and smart individuals, it was probably relatively safe/normal. Examples: arriving at airport less than 3.5 hours before my flight (yes, I truly used to go that early), taking public transportation after 8:00 pm (used to freak me out), swimming in a part of the beach without a lifeguard (I’m not a total psycho, I wouldn’t do it on a rough day). The same applies to ride sharing- I’ve never met someone my age who doesn’t do it at least semi regularly, and many of these people are smart/normal/sane, so following my general rule this means it’s within the realm of acceptable (maybe even responsible, as it prevents drinking and driving).

            Another thing that’s helpful for me is to think about how many things could go wrong related to activities I already do. I know you acknowledged that bad things can happen anywhere, but really let it sink in! Not trying to freak you out, but if you’re anything like me, you probably have regular habits that are just as dangerous as something like Uber, but you just don’t think about it because you’ve been doing them for so long. Like riding the bus or a passenger train without a seat belt. Why do we do this? I don’t know. It’s actually pretty damn risky. Going into an antiques shop with no other customers in it – the store owner could lock the shop and assault me I suppose. Somebody could absolutely sneak into my hotel room at night-they have unlimited access to my key, after all, and I would bet its happened before. I don’t remind myself of these things because I’m a masochist, I do it to remove the power from the “what ifs” and realize that shit happens. I enjoy life much more now that I’ve accepted it and don’t rearrange my plans and activities around some very unlikely “what ifs.”

            1. nonegiven

              All the rooms I’ve been in had a night latch of some kind. Some were just the chain, but breaking it would make some noise.

      3. Tilly

        That’s my thought too. I’ve been yelled at by taxis, been charged a different price than initially provided and given false pick-up confirmations. In an Uber, everything is tracked on an app. The idea that taxis are safer than Ubers is hard for me to wrap my head around, Bone Collector anyone? To each their own but as someone who travels frequently, I’d give my 20-something direct reports a side eye if they were against traveling in an Uber. I’d want to be understanding but most of the time we’re trying to hustle from an airport to get to a meeting so if this hang up cost us time or double the cost, I’d be annoyed. I really hate to admit that but I’m all about efficiencies.

        1. essEss

          I agree that I can’t contemplate thinking that a taxi is safer than an uber/lyft. A taxi is a random driver picking you up in a taxi. I doubt any rider tracks the license plate and/or name of the driver of a cab they get in. If you have a problem, it is hard to later pin down who the problem driver was. You can report that it was a [color]taxi that picked you up at [x] location at [x] time, but tracking the problem driver would be nearly impossible so a driver that wants to misbehave has a much better chance of getting away with it. However, with uber/lyft you know the exact license plate of the car that picked you up so any problems are traceable right to the person that drove you. It is less likely to encounter a dangerous driver because they can be traced so easily if they do something wrong.

          1. Jess

            Eh, it’s easy enough to track licensed cab info, and it’s a practice women I know are at least familiar with, even if it’s rarely bothered with (women in their 20-30s in NYC, for context, though I might just know paranoid-but-coping-with-it people).

            I took cabs *maybe* 3 times in the first 6 or 7 years I lived in NYC, though I do take them more frequently now that I actually make a living wage and live within a $20 ride of where I tend to go out. I don’t track medallion info if I find myself needing a cab in the middle of the day (which is super rare) or when traveling with other people, because I’d know if the cab was going off route etc and could come up with a escape/call the cops/make so much of a commotion that pedestrians noticed plan. But 4 am semi-sober cab rides where I know I’m not up to paying attention to my route? Step 1 is taking a photo of the medallion to text it to my partner, or the person I was out with who is expecting a “home safe” text, or whoever.

            This doesn’t me any safer. It doesn’t matter if people can find the perpetrator if something horrible happens to me, and there’s a very good chance that there would be minimal consequences even if the police bothered to identify him. But if all you want is the false sense of security that someone knows where you are, it’s pretty easy to accomplish that in a cab. The subway at 4 am isn’t really a happy fun place either, and the cab at least will get me home in less than 20 minutes without waiting forever.

            1. nonegiven

              Do subways even run at 4 am? I seem to remember son having to get a taxi from Logan because he got in after the last train. But that’s been 15-20 years ago.

        2. Cam

          I’m against traveling in Uber because of the company’s exploitation of its workers, history of unfair competition with other ridesharing services and regular taxis, poor safeguarding of user data, general lawbreaking, etc. (aside from the safety issues). I think it’s odd that people being socially conscious about not using services that are, quite frankly, terrible is something that annoys you.

      4. Jadelyn

        I’d probably feel the same re someone objecting to Uber on safety grounds – that’s the kind of objection I’d have expected to hear a few years ago, but at this point Uber and Lyft are just part of the “I don’t have a car, how shall I get from point A to point B?” landscape. I mean I don’t think I’d try to push anyone to use it who didn’t feel comfortable, if that’s a boundary for you then so be it, but I would think they’re a little weird and out of touch. It’s an opinion that’s out of sync with the general cultural understanding of the situation.

      5. I'll come up with a clever name later.

        Because I was assaulted in a taxi is the very reason I won’t use Uber / Lyft. I was able to pursue a criminal charges against the driver and later charges against the taxi company because of the laws that were in place to become a taxi driver. Uber drivers are not required to submit to the same licensing laws. Yes, there are rules that these Uber drivers have to follow but I also have two friends that have borrowed friends cars and have driven on suspended licenses as Uber drivers so those rules aren’t exactly being followed. I would never get in a car alone with an Uber driver.

        1. TL -

          This. If something happens to me in a taxi, I feel like I have clear options for recourse and the ability to escalate if needed. In Uber/Lyft, there’s not really great options if something happens. (And Uber complies with regulations when they absolutely have to but they sure fight tooth and nail against having to. Nothing about Uber inspires confidence in their handling of an awful driver.)

          1. fposte

            There’s a really interesting article by an Uber user in India who pushed the app’s panic button (which they said in 2015 they’d install in the U.S. but I don’t think ever have). I’ll link in followup.

          2. Yada yada yada

            How would you have recourse in this case? How would you prove you were even in the cab?

            1. TL -

              I call and book cabs and only pay with credit cards, but also if I felt unsafe, I would take the regulation numbers down, call the police with them or call 911, call the cab company, and also know we generally have a legal precedent for assaults/damages in cabs, whereas the laws around Uber are often quite murky – just because I can prove something happens doesn’t mean our legal system knows how to deal with it. I know our legal system is generally though not perfectly equipped to deal with regulated businesses screwing up – that’s why they’re regulated.

      6. Dolorous Bread

        I agree with this. I’m at the point now where I can’t even remember the last time I took a yellow cab and not an uber. It made me wonder if LW doesn’t live in a major city — but here in NYC, if someone told me they didn’t use uber at all out of safety reasons I’d certainly raise an eyebrow.

      7. Felicia B.

        I don’t think that’s very fair. When I found out my abusive ex boyfriend was driving for Uber, I contacted the company about privacy concerns for fear he might pick me up or day and learn my address. No way to prevent it. The company response basically amounted to “we don’t care,” and that’s why I don’t use ride sharing services.

    6. Zip Silver

      I only use AirBnb for family vacations, I much prefer a hotel for business. As far as Uber and Lyft go, I don’t think I’ll ever use a taxi again. The product Uber offers is far and above better, regardless if the cost-saving.

    7. Allison

      Woman, 28 years old, fine using Lyft and Uber but I’m still not sure I want to use Airbnb by myself. It’s more of a personal preference than anything else.

      1. essEss

        If the OP is paranoid about uber/lyft, then I’m surprised she hasn’t referred to the issues being found with some disreputable airBnB owners putting in hidden cameras in their rentals. I would be far more nervous about airBnB than a ride-share app.

    8. Danger: Gumption Ahead

      I’m older than that and heard too many stories when I was young about cab drivers assaulting passengers that I prefer Lyft/Uber. At least the drivers can be traced

    9. Letter Writer

      Letter Writer here. I can count the number of times I’ve taken a car service on two hands, and they were all to/from airports for non-work trips. I live in an area without public transit, and drive my own car basically everywhere. Usually on business trips I rent a car, so it’s a non-issue. I think part of my reluctance is because it’s not something I do regularly (but Uber’s business practices certainly don’t help, either). But when I’m flying into Detroit… honestly, if I can’t rent a car, having my mom pick me up was definitely my second choice.

      1. Manders

        Ah, I didn’t realize you weren’t very familiar with using car services and they’re not common in your area. I live in a big city, so they became a part of normal life years ago for me. I was nervous when I first started using them too.

        At the end of the day, you get to choose to do what you need to do to feel safe. But in most people’s experience, rideshares and AirBnB are just as safe and convenient as taxis and hotels, so you’re probably are going to run across a lot of people in your industry who have no problems using these services.

      2. nonymous

        I travel a few times a year for work and know people who drive cabs for a living. Frankly, it doesn’t seem like there is much vetting of cabs beyond basic licensing. In my area, cabs are regularly driven by newer immigrants, so there’s an issue of language difficulty and driving skills perfected outside US norms. Maintenance of cabs is at the discretion of the cab company, so that can be frightening. My last straw was when, after I warned the driver to slow down b/c our turn was coming up, he overshot it and angrily expressed that he couldn’t see the intersection. And then the car made a wonderful grinding noise when I directed him around the block.

        I like that in the app (I use Lyft, not Uber), I can see that the ride I scheduled is on the way – I’ve had no shows with cab companies. I like how the cars are newer and are inspected. I like how the drivers have to undergo background checks (which is what a for-hire license requires in my state). And I like how the rating system incentivizes good drivers.

        At my local airport, there is only one taxi company that has paid for the privilege of having a stand. What I’ve observed is that drivers who used to be affiliated with the other major companies in the area now use Lyft or Uber to do pickups.

      3. Detective Amy Santiago

        It sounds like you are experiencing fear of the unknown which is understandable, but, to answer your question, yes, it will make you look out of touch if you bring it up in a business travel context.

    10. Anonynonynon

      Putting the discussion of what’s safer aside, for me I refuse to use Uber because of how they have handled reports of assaults from drivers (and other business practices they are well known to have). I just don’t want to give that company my money if that’s how they treat customers and drivers.

    11. LAI

      I was recently in Mexico City for work travel and they actually advised us to always use Uber because it is MORE safe than taking a taxi. Obviously that is a specific situation. But I’ve really never felt even a little unsafe taking an Uber/Lyft or staying in an Airbnb/VRBO (mid-30s female). I’ve always stayed in places where you get the whole house to yourself, so you’re not sharing with a stranger. The only issue I’ve had with Airbnb is that some of their places have super strict cancellation policies, like no refund at all within 60 days of the stay.

    12. sfigato

      I used airbnb for a work trip last year and…never again. it was nominally cheaper than the hotel i could have stayed at, but it was a dude’s apartment, with none of the amenities I needed (iron, coffee maker) and upstairs neighbors that played with their cat until 2am. I do use airbnb for personal travel, but mostly because it’s easier when traveling with family.

    13. Annabelle

      Same here. There aren’t many traditional cabs where I live, so if I’m without a vehicle or unable to drive for some reason I don’t really have any other choice.

    14. Curious

      Yeah, I’ve had many more creepy experiences in taxis than in Lyfts. Lyfts are also easier to reimburse for business travel since you can just set them up with a business account.

      Also, OP, you have no idea that the people you met were being forced or required to use AirBnB. They may even have requested it from their employer. Many people prefer having their own house rather than staying in a hotel. And one friend with food restrictions prefers to stay in lodging with a kitchen during business travel so she can prepare her own meals.

    15. voluptuousfire

      I’m a woman in my late thirties and only use taxi cabs if I have to. I usually go for Uber or Lyft. I live in the outer boroughs of NYC and we have a handful of local car services and on the whole they’re terrible–older cars, surly/cranky dispatchers, pretty much never on time, you can only use cash, etc.

      I pretty much stopped using one particular car service when years ago, I called a cab from them and their driver was the spitting image of Joey Buttafuco (google the Long Island Lolita story to get an idea) and he gave me some story about the previous female passengers while leering at me in the mirror. It was gross.

    16. Marcy Marketer

      I’m also a woman in my late 20s and use Lyft for business travel. I always travel alone. I’ve always had good experiences, though once my driver had a weird name, like a name that was a celebrity riff, and I texted a friend the license plate number just in case.

    17. INTP

      I think personal comfort level is a big part of the customs here. Personally, I feel more comfortable in a Lyft than a regular taxi because there’s a record of whose car I got into, and I’ve never had a driver I got weird vibes from (which I have with many taxi drivers – overly aggressive demeanor, asking me where to buy cocaine (?), etc.). A taxi driver could dispose of my body with no one ever knowing I was in his car! I’d be really nervous if I were required by work to take a regular taxi in the US. I’m an early-30s woman that lives and travels alone.

      I wouldn’t want to take AirBnB for work travel just because I want work travel to be as efficient as possible, and I think it would be dumb for a company to require it given the possibility of time-consuming issues coming up (i.e. if something goes wrong in the unit, it’s more of a pain to be transferred to another AirBnB than another hotel room, hosts can flake on handing off keys, etc.). That said, I can definitely see people that already use it regularly using it by choice because they’d rather stay in an apartment than hotel rooms for comfort, kitchen access, etc. For the OP, I wouldn’t worry about being required to use AirBnB just because some other people were in one, I would assume they did that by choice and not because of cost-cutting requirements. Plus, if you do your business travel alone, it’s usually no cheaper to stay in an AirBnB studio than a hotel room – the savings are more with a few people splitting an entire apartment/house when they’d normally be in separate hotel rooms.

    18. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I frequently use Lyft in cities where cabs are not common (including for work). This is so normal to me and everyone else that the idea of calling a cab is more foreign than taking an Uber/Lyft.

      I’ve stayed in an AirBnB for work twice when it was more convenient and well-suited (and within the budget limits) than a hotel. The latter has only come up in really expensive metro areas where the cost of hotels far exceeds our per diem limits. A few colleagues have opted to rent a house via AirBnB before (more cost effective, everyone had a private room), but it was purely voluntary.

      Otherwise, I prefer to book all lodging through hotels because they’re often closer to my work site, sometimes have shuttle service to/from the airport, and are easier to justify when processing reimbursements.

  2. Mike C.

    No, you aren’t out of touch.

    Some areas have dealt well to contain these sorts of businesses, but in other areas they cause huge problems and there are significant regulatory holes. Expectations you’d have in hotels regarding sanitation and fire protection aren’t always going to be found in residential homes. There are also significant externalities that AirBNB causes that you would be directly contributing to.

    There’s nothing wrong with being cautious here.

    1. Violet Fox

      Uber is illegal where I live, and they are trying to essentially tax AirBnB out of existence because of exactly those problems. Well operating a taxi here without a taxi license and background check from the police is illegal here, no matter if it is called from an app or taken from the street — tech companies aren’t given a special exemption from the law. Then again we also have been able to order regular taxis from an app for quite some time here.

      The other thing to be careful with in the US is that city by city and state by state AirBnB and Uber/Lyft have different legalities and they might actually be operating in that place illegally (I have relatives in the states that live in areas with high housing costs that have outlawed AirBnB), which also could get the employer into trouble if anything happens.

      Hotels, fire regulations, sanitation regulations etc exist for a reason. There is nothing wrong with wanting to stay in a hotel. There is also nothing wrong with wanting a rental car to not be dependent on taxi/taxi-like-service availability. I think the company is pinching pennies in funny spots.

      1. Luna

        Yes, I thought that most airports in the US ban Uber/Lyft from picking up people there (not that they don’t try to do it anyway), but maybe it is only some airports that do that?

        My old company really frowned upon employees staying in Airbnb or rental houses when on business trips- they would reimburse it, but begrudgingly, and only after the finance people giving us a really hard time about it.

        1. SM

          There’s actually more than a few airports I’ve been to that have a specific spot to pick up/drop off for Uber and Lyft. Although I think there’s an extra fee applied to the ride. LAX off the top of my head.

        2. Natalie

          Huh, in my local airport they made a separate pickup place for “app based ridesharing services” on a different floor than the cab stand. Trying to avoid a West Side Story-style fight, I assume.

        3. Triangle Pose

          It’s the opposite. Most airports in the US have specific rideshare pick up points. Airports should not be able to discriminate or only allow one cab company to charge exorbitant rates for airport pickups. This is one of the reasons uber has been so successful in entering the market.

          1. One of the Sarahs

            In the UK some airports are claiming safety as a reason to give out a monopoly on who can collect. Apparently they have to have drivers vetted or something? The days of anyone being able to drive up to the big plate glass front of an airport building are well over here – but I never know how much is actual threats of terrorism (there was an incident at a Scottish airport a few years ago) and how much is using terrorism as an excuse to make cash (which sadly happens quite a lot, everywhere)

            1. MsSolo

              For those not familiar with the Scottish airport incident, it did involve the magnificent moment when an angry Scotsman kicked a terrorist in the balls while the terrorist was on fire.

        4. INTP

          I’ve never been to a US airport that bans Uber/Lyft, but usually they’re not in the taxi line, there’s a special rideshare area or they go in the same line with personal vehicles picking people up.

          I’d be really upset if my airport banned Lyft. I did NOT have good experiences with regular taxis before Uber/Lyft. Sketchy drivers, often seeming to be under the influence, taxis not picking people up and you have no way of knowing whether they’re going to show until it’s time (because you can’t watch their GPS tracker like on apps).

      2. Irishgal

        Same in Ireland. Taxis here have been so regulated for so long they are considered very safe; might take the long way round to rip you off and talk you to death but very little risk to physical safety. Taxi drivers seem to be more at risk from public if anything.

        When I lived in London as a student we ended up in a lot of unregulated cabs;usually drunk after a club. Quite a few near misses from them so I very quickly learned to only get in regulated cabs.

        Uber is banned in a lot of European cities particularly if there is already a regulated taxi system.

        1. Natalie

          It occurs to me that a lot of the difference in experience here might be a low-regulation US vs high-regulation Europe thing. A lot of US areas don’t actually have that much regulation on taxis, or what they do have is poorly enforced, so Uber/Lyft seem perfectly acceptable by comparison. I would probably feel differently if I lived somewhere with genuine, effective regulation of cabs.

            1. Natalie

              Sure, but having discussed Uber with you before I already knew your opinion of them. :) I was speaking about the American vs European commenters more generally.

            2. Detective Amy Santiago

              And I can’t help but notice that you’re only speaking to Uber in your comments and completely ignoring the fact that Lyft provides the same service without the baggage Uber carries.

              1. Natalie

                Mostly I’m being too lazy to type out “app based ridesharing service” (that’s the nicely bureaucratic term my local airport uses), but in a discussion of perceptions I think Uber is more relevant. They have both a higher profile and a more negative reputation.

            3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              I think it’s also a regional thing. There are metro areas where cabs are not super regulated or accessible (see: wide swathes of the West Coast). Which is not to say one is better/worse, but just that the regulatory framework is very local and specific to each city. Same for AirBNB.

          1. Aveline

            There’s also a lot of variation from state to state. Anyone who is citing absolutes about Uber or taxis in the context of the US is erroneously assuming their experience to be universal.

            1. Natalie

              Absolutely, I’m definitely just making a generalization. There is a lot of variability, but I think *overall* European cities have more robust regulations that are enforced more strictly.

            2. fposte

              Yes, same about Airbnb. Most of the regulations on hotels/rentals and taxis/rideshares aren’t federal, so what they’re subject to varies hugely. I think it makes it really hard to do comparisons of something like safety between platforms, because it’s so locale-dependent.

        1. Natalie

          Uh, citation needed on this one. I think it was the case that they weren’t specifically allowed when they first expanded, but that was a while ago and most cities have caught up and either kicked them out or created regulations.

    2. Nita

      Yes. I don’t know how well founded my concern is, but would there be any possible liability on the company for encouraging use of an AirBNB that turns out to be illegal?

      There have been some questions about the legality of AirBNB listings in some places, and they could also be violating an individual building’s rules. I’ve lived in a building where there are strict rules on how an apartment can be leased out, and only long-term leases are allowed. One of my neighbors still managed to run an illegal AirBNB for several months. Took me a while to catch on – I was scratching my head for a long time about why I keep bumping into a new house-guest of theirs every week, but no one seems to come back for a repeat visit (I’m not normally that dense, I was just very sleep-deprived…) In hindsight, glad they didn’t end up with any really sketchy guests. Eventually management found out somehow and the business was shut down.

      1. Brett

        The big problem might not be that the short term rental is illegal, but that the short term rental carries the same legal responsibilities as a standard rental occupant.

        As an example: In many St Louis area cities, if you are a contractual occupant of a commercial rental, you are liable for repairing and restoring any plumbing issues that occur while you occupy the unit. (Others make the occupant responsible for fire damage, rodent or insect infestations, chemical spills, etc. It varies from city to city but the plumbing one is very common).
        Some cities also apply occupancy fines to both the landlord and the occupant (including possibly jail time, though that would be unlikely).

    3. Uberist

      “Some areas have dealt well to contain these sorts of businesses, but in other areas they cause huge problems and there are significant regulatory holes.”

      Why do ride-sharing services (aka “these sorts of businesses”) need to be “contained”? Do you think they are akin to massage parlors or something?

      1. Mike C.

        Well for one thing you’re completely ignoring the AirBNB example where I pointed out the lack of sanitation and fire safety regulations, not to mention the zoning issues.

        You ignore the issues of employee misclassification, lack of proper insurance and the externalities caused bv lots of empty taxis roaming around causing congestion.

        There’s also the simple fact that being a tech company isn’t a license to break the law! That’s how the law works.

        1. Violet Fox

          That’s pretty much what the European High Court ruled, that a transit company is a transit company is a transit company and needs to behave like one, and follow the laws like one whether or not it comes wrapped in a pretty Silicon Valley app.

    4. Tara

      Yea. I think its a bit over-cautious to be scared of these services, but I completely understand not wanting to contribute to AirBnB especially seeing as how they tend to be illegal, and jack up rental prices in many cities. Usually, you are not actually staying in someone’s home, you’re staying in a unit purchased for AirBnB purposes that isn’t allowed to be used that way.

      1. One of the Sarahs

        Same – plus all the security/noise issues for people in blocks where something is illegally rented out as AirBnB in a place perceived as a party town

    5. Stephanie

      Nah, I’m the same way. Early 30s female urban dweller, so you could argue I’m the target market for these. I’m eh on AirBnB. There are your no tell motels for sure, but there’s a level of sanitation, fire protection, etc. in hotels that is expected that you can’t expect in someone’s private residence. I’m also just paranoid about damage. The reports of discrimination are troubling as well.

      Also, I have no desire to clean while I’m traveling.

      I’m personally not crazy about Uber/Lyft’s business model. I may be biased because I used to work in the transportation industry. Old Company’s drivers were very well-compensated, so it’s hard for me to not see Uber/Lyft as taking advantage of the drivers.

    6. zora

      This is another good point, all of the businesses mentioned are currently regulated differently by jurisdiction. So, it is reasonable to be concerned when traveling to different areas.

      And I don’t think the AirBnB thing is super out of touch at all. My company has added it as an option to the travel policy for people who want to use it, but the expectation is still that 99% of the time employees will be staying in a major chain hotel anywhere they travel. If a company ever tried to insist that an employee use an AirBnB on a business trip, I would think that is weird.

    7. LadyL

      It’s not just problems for directly competing industries either. In my area, a local politician recently voted against expanding the bus lines because apparently public transit is a thing of the past and we need to be investing in ride sharing/zipcars/etc as those are how people actually get around. Well no, that’s how people with money get around. A bus fare is 75 cents for a student, and I think even cheaper for seniors ($2.25 for the average adult). No Lyft/Uber I’ve ever seen can compete with that, and defunding public transit to save a few bucks and relying on companies to fill the gap seems pretty evil to me.

    8. nonprofit director

      Thank you for bringing up some of the issues with AirBNB. I won’t use AirBNB. In my area, which has expensive and not enough housing, people are purchasing homes and turning them into whole-house AirBNB STRs. Despite the fact that most neighborhoods zoned residential prohibit STRs. This is also causing even greater housing shortages.

    9. neverjaunty

      And by ‘externalities’, let’s be clear that AirBnB is enabling evictions, unlicensed hotels and high property costs in places like SF. They have fought hard against any kind of registration program that would make it possible for housing authorities to separate out “Bob, who rents out his spare bedroom occasionally” from “SlumlordLLC, which kicked a bunch of people out of a building on a pretext of owner move-in and now runs an unregulated hotel”.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        They’ve also tried to bully the City, as has Uber. There’s some pretty terrible displacement and bad corporate behavior from both companies.

  3. J.C.

    I’m in my early 30s and I’m with you, LW. I don’t trust and therefore don’t use ubers/lyfts or airbnb. Too few checks and balances in place!

    1. Lauren

      I don’t mind AirBnB, but only if I am the one vetting the place and I don’t have to share it with colleagues. When its a hotel or AirBnB with only regard for cost, that is when you end up in a bad part of town if its chosen by your employer.

      1. Natalie

        Or really far away. One of the advantages of business hotels is that they are frequently close to wherever the office or conference center is and convenient to the airport.

      2. AndersonDarling

        Agreed. When planning a vacation, I’ll spend hours vetting each vacation home whether it’s an AirBnB, Bookings.com, or VBRO. But I can’t invest that much time into business travel. I’ll check a few hotel reviews, book, then done. And I prefer hotels for business travel because there are normally restaurants and other amenities nearby.

    2. LadyL

      Late 20s and I also avoid Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, or any of those other apps. I really don’t understand them, or the appeal.

        1. my two cents

          I use Lyft because I cannot stand parking at the Milwaukee airport or struggling with the stupid parking meters when I need to run an errand or two downtown. Also, super-easy to print receipts for reimbursement from work!

        2. LadyL

          I use carpooling and buses for that reason. I’m kinda crazy though apparently, because when the unreliable buses in my hometown just ditched me for two hours my SO was begging me to try Lyft but I don’t understand it (it just seems very sketchy to hop into a car with some strange dude) so I just waited in the cold for the 2 hours until the bus came back. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          1. Jennifer

            When the Lyft/Uber ride request is accepted, you get the person’s car make/model, the plate, their photo, and their cell number. It’s easy to screen shot all that just in case, but it’s also forever stored in your account. And the car location is tracked via GPS constantly.

            1. Legal Beagle

              And on Uber at least (probably Lyft, too, but I don’t know firsthand), you can share the GPS tracking of your trip. So your friend, mom, spouse, or whoever can see where you are, your route, and your destination.

            1. LadyL

              I don’t believe that I’m stupid just because I don’t have an interest in using a particular piece of technology. Waiting for things was a pretty common part of life until just recently. The area was completely safe, as was I.

            2. Bea

              She’s allowed to choose whatever transportation she likes herself, chill out with the insults at intelligence.

              I’d walk anywhere before getting on a bus. I only recently got to a city with Lyft and I’m a huge fan.

      1. Temperance

        For me, not having to ride in a filthy cab with a rude driver is enough of a benefit, but I’ve had many scary and unpleasant experiences in cabs. I’ve also seen cab drivers smoking in their vehicle, which is straight up disgusting.

        1. Natalie

          The biggest problem with cabs in my city is the dispatchers, who are LITERALLY the rudest, meanest people I’ve ever interacted with in a “customer service” position. They lie, they swear at people and call them names, I’ve been hung up on multiple times, and for some reason their phone connections are always so bad as to be basically non-functional. Being able to request a ride with an app is so worth it to never have to talk to a taxi dispatcher again.

          1. fposte

            Wow, apparently my city is twinned with yours, even down to the hang-ups. Uber has made life here so much easier.

            1. Readwitch

              Which is so weird to me, you’d think with the competition of uber and Lyft that taxi services would setup an app themselves.

              1. Natalie

                Some have – I know there have been at least a couple in my city and probably others. However, they waited far too long so Uber was very well established (this was pre-Lyft in this city), they did virtually nothing to actually advertise the app, and the one I tried was terrible.

          2. Temperance

            YES. I found one local company here in Philly whose dispatchers are actually nice, which is a shock, but the rest of them are so amazingly awful.

          3. Detective Amy Santiago

            OMG. It’s been a while since I took taxis regularly and I forgot how rude the dispatchers were. I definitely had people lie to me about whether or not there was a car actually on the way or not.

          4. zora

            In my city the dispatchers weren’t quite that rude, but the whole thing is a huge charade. They would tell you a driver was on the way, but 75% of the time no driver would ever show up. They weren’t required to listen to the dispatchers if they didn’t want to.

            Being able to actually have a car show up at my address thanks to an app, was a huge revelation. It used to be the only way you could get a cab at all was to be in the city center and hail one curbside. If you wanted one from a residential area, you were just SOL.

        2. INTP

          Yeah, I had crappy experiences with the cab industry before Uber/Lyft so I’m happy for it to be disrupted. One memorable time, there was an event in my neighborhood so my cab didn’t show and when I called and asked about it, they refused to send one to me. I was 1 mile from the airport and had to drive and pay to park because no taxi would come get me. (Ubers can decline rides too, but I would have known my driver wasn’t on his way to pick me up because of the GPS tracker, and I’ve never had an issue getting a ride even in heavy traffic.) I’ve also felt unsafe in taxis because of drivers that were overly aggressive and yelling or seemed to be under the influence (including one asking me where to buy cocaine in the city?). I’ve had minor annoyances with Lyft like a Line taking a lot longer than they said it would or a driver not showing up (which I knew was going to happen within minutes so I canceled the ride and got another), but never felt unsafe or nearly missed a flight. I feel SO much safer with Lyft than I ever felt in cabs and would not want to live in a city that banned it.

      2. Snark

        Well, the premise is basically that of a taxi, except it’s a driver and their personal car. Otherwise, exactly the same. You pay for a ride. The appeal? It’s cheaper and generally more convenient, and you don’t have to stand on the curb waving your arm to flag them.

        1. Stephanie

          And it’s on-demand with a smartphone app. When I lived in DC, you just had to flag a cab and hope it was in the right jurisdiction (there were licensing issues about pickups/dropoffs between DC, Maryland, and Virginia).

          1. Uberist

            Plus in DC, they used to use a zone-based fare system. Taxi drivers would often falsely claim you had crossed into a new zone to exact hire fares from naive tourists.

            When the city moved to replace the zone system with meters, the taxicab industry countered with the argument — get this — that the regulatory change was unjustified because yellow cabs provided employment opportunities for new immigrants.

            Then they wondered why the public so strongly supported Uber in DC.

          2. zora

            DC was the worst. After three incidents of waiting for 1-2 hours and a cab never showing up, I gave up ever using a cab ever and got used to the bus schedule.

            That was the first place I started using Uber in 2010 just because it was actually functional.

            1. zora

              Oh yeah, and the other incident where a SuperShuttle driver totally blew me off and I almost missed my 6:30am flight.

              1. Uberist

                I had the same experience in DC. I had a flight to Japan that left IIRC around 3.30pm from IAD. I ordered a Super Shuttle the night before for 11:30 am, so I could meet other members of the delegation I was on beforehand. Super Shuttle never showed up and never responded to complaints.

                Whenever I’ve had an issue with Uber, they answer within 24 hours, and they show up.

          3. LBK

            Ugh, the DMV licensing nightmare. I don’t miss that (or cab drivers just refusing to take you in a certain direction because, eg, I lived in NW DC and they lived in VA and didn’t want to drive the opposite direction that close to the end of their shift if it meant a longer drive home).

      3. Dani

        The appeal for me over traditional taxis:
        – Know for sure they will take a credit card
        – I have never had a scheduled Lyft/Uber be late like I have with scheduled taxi pickups
        – Near-immediate refund if the driver takes a long route to try to run up the meter
        – Far more convenient than a taxi in general
        – Car is almost always cleaner than a taxi

        That’s not to say there aren’t issues with Lyft and Uber, but they certainly were able to zero in on a lot of pain points with the traditional taxi experience and mitigate them.

        1. London Bookworm

          The credit card thing is huge for me (I used to live in San Francisco and perpetually broken card readers were a huge problem.)

          I also find that with Lyft drivers they tend to be more patient and conservative, whereas some of the cabs I’ve been in have been very aggressive. Also? If you give a low rating to someone, you’re never ‘matched’ with them again.

        2. LadyL

          I can’t afford regular taxis either, I either take public transit or walk places. Maybe that’s why I don’t get the appeal, I’m not comparing them to taxis.

          1. Anna Held

            This. If I had to get to an airport without a ride, I’d take the bus. I know that’s not possible everywhere, but larger cities usually have good public transportation infrastructure, especially for the airports and downtown.

          2. Turkletina

            I think so many people in this thread are comparing them to taxis because that’s the relevant comparison for a business expense. A company (probably — I read enough AAM to know anything’s possible!) wouldn’t send you to another of their offices and allow you to expense only bus fare or expect you to walk.

            1. nonymous

              My company has a specific policy which encourages us to take public transit. They don’t expect us to make transfers, though, so I usually just take the airport express train/bus to a spot close to my destination and then Lyft the rest of the way. My main peeve is sharing a car with coworkers in a non-walkable city.

          3. LBK

            I still take public transit regularly (eg to work every day) but there are parts of my city that aren’t easily accessible that way (especially in inclement weather when I don’t want to walk 10+ minutes from the stop) or where it takes much, much longer to get there via public transit vs driving. It’s definitely a privilege and I do it a lot more now than when I was making a lot less money, but I don’t think the reasoning is all that mystifying.

        3. zora

          This is my big argument whenever this stuff comes up. When all the debates start about how Uber, etc, are destroying the world by all the bad things they did as opposed to traditional cab companies, I’m like “Fair point, they have done a lot of bad things and are clearly jerks and aren’t trying to make the world a better place or anything. But the cab companies had many many problems that they refused to fix in favor of the owners/CEOs, etc keeping as much profit as possible. So, if someone else swooped in and did stuff like: accept credit cards, use technology to find passengers where they are and need a ride, be more prompt, etc, I’m not really going to blame the swooper. The taxi companies had just as much ability to solve all of these problems AND keep drivers as employees, be licensed and regulated, etc, etc, and they didn’t want to. So, I feel bad for drivers being taken advantage of by the ride share companies, but taxi companies were not angels either, so let’s take down that strawman.”

          1. INTP

            Totally agree with this. Uber/Lyft don’t just offer cheaper fares, they solved the many problems that made using taxis a huge pain in the first place. (I was entirely stood up for a ride to the airport once, for one, and the company refused to send another car when I called them. With Uber/Lyft, I watch the car and if it’s not moving towards me I know to cancel the ride and order another.) Plus as a woman taking Lyfts alone I feel a lot safer with there being an electronic record of who I was in the car with.

      4. Kelly L.

        Heh, I actually planned to use Uber on a recent trip, and then had to switch to regular cabs anyway because the app (Surprise!) decided not to work properly on my phone.

      5. NaoNao

        Well, the appeal varies widely depending on where you are and what your situation is. I’m in an urban environment and I don’t want to own a car or drive (zip car, etc). The appeal is that within minutes, I can have a car come to my house, pick me up, and drop me off at my location, for a fraction of the cost and hassle of a traditional taxi.
        I only use Lyft because of the aforementioned issues with Uber (mostly ethical and moral violations the company has repeatedly committed).
        I can track the car’s progress to me and along the route on the app. I can make notes/a rating about that driver and if he or she upset me, didn’t take the best route, or I had other issues, I can report this and they’ll never match me with that driver again.
        I can order a Lyft for a friend, or vice versa. I can split the payment, ask for stops, and the app can “learn” my preferences so that, for example, every day when I open it up and ask for a ride, if it’s a weekday, “work” comes up as a saved location option.
        AirBnB is often significantly cheaper (by hundreds of dollars) than a hotel. The types of rooms or houses/apartments you can get have more variety. Again, a rating system is in place, and since it’s a single owner, usually, that single rating will impact their score.
        I stayed in an AirBnB for 2 weeks when I moved here while looking for an apartment, and it was great. Instead of a cold little sad hotel room in a very expensive “long stay” hotel, I got an entire apartment all to myself in a great area of town. A full kitchen, a full bath, etc etc.
        That’s the appeal.
        If you own a car, don’t travel, and prefer kind of…more predictable, for lack of a better word, temporary accommodations, then AirBnB and Lyft aren’t for you.

      6. Zoe Karvounopsina

        Late 20s, don’t use AirBNB, have used Uber once…where I was deposited, at night, on a road in Delhi about half a mile from where I was meant to be.

        Thanks, Uber.

      1. Fiennes

        Right? There are municipalities where taxis are thoroughly/safely/meaningfully regulated, but they are far fewer in number than people seem to think.

      2. extra anon today

        I think she is talking about the fact that taxi drivers are licensed and fingerprinted with extensive background checks. Uber doesn’t do any of that.

        1. Calliope

          And insured.

          Unlike Uber, they don’t claim you can’t sue them if something goes wrong.

          Grant it, there’s no hard data either way, but we need to stop pretending that one side is clearly superior in safety. We don’t know.

          1. Corporate lawyer

            The case establishing why we can’t “pierce the corporate veil” involved a yellow taxicab company.

            Some taxi entrepreneur set up a corporation for each car in his fleet. Thus, the assets of each corporation were limited to that particular car.

            One car got in an accident and the passenger sued. The defendant corporation noted it had insufficient assets to satisfy the judgment. The victim tried to claim that the other corporations were the “alter ego” of the defendant corporation and therefore should be liable. The court sided with the taxicabs and effectively prevented the victim from recovering anything. It rationale was that shareholders are not liable for the debts of a corporation, full stop.

            (In fairness, many states adopted taxicab industry regulations to prevent this situation from arising again.)

        2. JB (not in Houston)

          It not only doesn’t do that, but it pushes back hard against cities who try to require it of their drivers.

        3. Danger: Gumption Ahead

          Assuming the person behind the wheel is actually the one who has the hack license and not the the person they loaned it to for a kickback. It is really common, really illegal, but most customers never think to ask for the license and don’t look at it even if it is posted.

          1. CMart

            Indeed. I thought it was an extremely common practice for the actual taxi owners (medallion or license holders, whatever) to have in-need friends and family also driving the car, oftentimes F&F without even a driver’s license. I’ve even had overly chatty taxi drivers admit to me it’s their cousin’s car and they’re doing this on the side.

            It’s for that reason I actually trust the app-based services more. At least you actually know who’s driving you and you don’t have to remember to write it down or take a picture or something.

      3. Temperance

        I’m honestly perplexed by this. The cab lobby is super powerful and uses their clout to make sure that they don’t have these “checks and balances”. I tried to report a driver and had no idea how to do so (and his manager/dispatcher was a total d-bag, too).

        1. Snark

          And the taxi lobby also does things like, for example, lobby against mass transit to airports and other destinations.

          1. LBK

            Yeah, my impression is that the taxi lobby are the main ones fighting for ridesharing apps to be regulated moreso out of protecting their market share than any sort of moral superiority. It’s not exactly altruistic.

  4. Lauren

    I go to Pittsburgh for work, and you can’t get a taxi to take you around town – they won’t take tiny fares. So Uber is really your only option unless you are going to and from the airport. I don’t like it, but I don’t have a choice sometimes. I have walked to my hotel when it is nice out, which seems safer even though I don’t know the neighborhoods well at all.

    1. Jenn

      You can’t get a taxi in Pittsburgh, period! We also have Lyft if you don’t want to take Uber. Depending on what part of town you’re in, a bus may be an option though public transportation here is not great. What neighborhoods do you usually stay in?

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.

        As in, you can get on a bus on 20th and Penn, get off on 11th and hey, that’s a full fare ride? Yeah, love that part.

      2. Grits McGee

        Urrgh, this. We waited 2 hours for a taxi one night in Pittsburgh. (Luckily it was from a house to another location, not waiting out in the cold!) That’s one great thing about Uber and Lyft- you can see exactly where the driver is while you’re waiting, not relying on the increasingly unbelievable assurances from the dispatcher that your ride is “just 15 minutes away”.

      3. MashaKasha

        About the only time I used a taxi was in Pittsburgh. My then-teenage sons and I took a cab from a downtown hotel to the Art Museum. I could tell the driver was driving us around in circles, but didn’t have proof, and so didn’t say anything. We could not find either a taxi or public transportation back to the hotel, so we walked. So, yeah, my only experience with using a taxi was underwhelming.

        Used Lyft for the first time when I was on vacation this past summer, and it was a completely different experience. Used it all week to get places, and have no complaints whatsoever.

        Unfortunately, the area I live in is very spread out, which makes Lyft prohibitively expensive where I live. Basically, like someone else said here, “we drive every freaking place we have to go”.

    2. Hey Karma, Over here.

      I was replying from Pittsburgh. Yeah, cabs are not a thing here. So your best bet is the shuttle from the airport to the city. At which point, you are walking to the office.
      I wish I could share the secret we locals have other than “we drive to every freaking place we have to go” (NYC and London blew my mind. You can just jump in this cab. This cab right here? Will drive me? And I don’t have to park? This IS GENIUS!)

    3. BRR

      I think there are few cities in the US that have enough taxi service. If I’m in New York, then a cab will invariably pass me by the time my uber comes but that to me is more the exception than the rule. In college in New Orleans, I had to call a cab which I am assuming takes longer than an uber (no uber at the time). Not to mention if somebody else took your cab.

    4. yinzer

      Uh, I live in Pittsburgh and it has a good bus system in the city, especially for how small the city itself is, and I’ve never had a problem getting a cab downtown.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago

        If you are trying to travel outside the city though, the public transit is fairly useless. And sometimes you have to go all the way downtown and back out on two hour long bus rides to travel somewhere that is a ten minute car ride away.

      2. AwkwardestTurtle

        I went to school in Pittsburgh in the years just before Uber//Lyft became a thing. We went to a movie at the Waterfront and got stranded there for over an hour because the last bus just never showed up and that’s how long it took for a taxi to come, even though we waited inside a hotel. During my senior year I could never stay at the bar for last call because the bus would stop running and the one time I called a cab I had to wait *an hour and a half* for one to come. Maybe the cab scene has improved since then but it was abysmal when I lived there.
        Every other aspect of living in Pittsburgh was wonderful, though. I miss it a lot.

    5. Pretend Scientist

      Pittsburgh, here. Yes, a cab will only take you to/from the airport, and fairly reluctantly at that. I’m lucky that we have a car service through work that I use to get to the airport for business travel. Otherwise yes, we drive everywhere. Both of our cars are being worked on right now, and my only option to get to work was getting a rental. I cannot wrap my mind around how a PAT bus would be possible.

    6. Aaron

      Yeah, I live in Shadyside, and I’m sad to say that before Uber was here, I once had to do the >1 hour walk at 2 AM from the Strip District home because the taxi dispatcher told us it would take at least 3 hours to get a cab, and the ones we did try to hail said “no” to Shadyside.

      Uber/Lyft have truly been game changing for Pittsburgh. (Plus, it’s cool to occasionally get the self-driving Uber, ha!)

      1. evilintraining

        Yes, they have been game-changing, Aaron! I’m a lifelong yinzer (56 years old), and the cab system has always sucked. The (school bus-colored) cab company had a monopoly in this town for far too long and is now being crushed by Uber and Lyft. And wonders why…

      2. learningToCode

        Shadyside here as well. The buses within neighborhoods are fine (though single fare no matter the distance is iffy), and the busway from Downtown to East Liberty is cool, but there’s no way to get outside the city without a car… Which is why I never leave.

        1. Aaron

          Yeah, I’m fortunate to have a car. Pittsburgh, despite being a pretty awesome city these days, still is really one of those cities where it can be tough not to have a car. It’s fairly sprawling, and public transit is – as everyone here has pointed out – limited and not always convenient.

          One of my exes had a Zipcar subscription that was pretty handy, and now with Uber, I think it’s at least a bit easier to manage without car ownership.

          PS – *LOVE* the showing of Pittsburghers that are on this blog :)

    7. Stephanie

      I live in Pittsburgh and yeah…I rarely see cabs. Not sure where you’re traveling for work, but I’ll say it’s a fairly safe city in most parts. Bus system is pretty good when you factor in that it’s a mid-sized city. That being said, the roads are confusing and the bus system isn’t super intuitive (i.e., it’s not in a grid, so there’s not necessarily a bus that just runs up the entirety of one street).

  5. KB

    I feel the same way about AirBnB, but to fair I have also never used the service. As far as Uber and Lyft goes, I actually feel safer using this service than I do for a taxi. Uber’s you can track on GPS and know exactly where they are and who they are.

    1. Emi.

      I’ve been sexually harrassed by a cabdriver and never by an Uber/Lyft driver, although this is just as anecdotal as the Uber horror stories.

      1. Anna

        Exactly. I mean, I get the idea that a taxi driver’s cert somehow provides a safety net, but the Lyft app tells you who is picking you up, their car’s license #, and you have a history of who you rode with if something happens. In my mind, that’s a bit safer than having to remember the name or find the cert number of a taxi driver who can harass you just as much as a Lyft driver.

        I’m in my 40s and have only stayed in AirBnB when I can rent the entire flat. I think it just depends on what you’re comfortable with, but I also don’t tend to believe the only thing between me and a person who is trash and wants to harm me is a certification or license.

      2. Calliope

        DING!

        Thank you for admitting this. So many commenters on this site are “Uber’s are safer. Period.” or “Taxis are safer. Period.”

        We don’t know. It’s all antecdotal.

        1. Uberist

          Calliope, you seem to think that “we don’t know” means “no one can ever take a decision.” That’s rubbish that would lead to decision paralysis in most areas of life. People take decisions in information-poor environments all the time. “What shall I have for dinner” is not a controlled experiment.

          There are sound logical hypotheses as to why Uber/Lyft are safer. Perhaps — *perhaps*; see below — they are hypotheses. But that means judgments about yellow cab companies are hypotheses too; absent data, you have to revert to weighing which hypothesis is more reasonable.

          Also, with all the tens of millions of Uber rides taken since 2009, I would disagree with the notion that “we have no data” about Uber. (Merely because some Dallas newspaper parrots that notion does not make it so; we have no data about the Dallas newspaper, either.) Uber is practically a data company as much as a ride-sharing company. We know a lot about Uber riders and drivers. Where we *don’t* have good data is incumbent yellow taxicabs. So if you want to blame someone for lack of data, blame the taxicab industry.

      3. Lauren

        I had a Uber driver ask if I lived alone, I was so freaked – I said I was visiting my Uncle instead of going home.

        1. Kirsten

          In a somewhat similar vein (related to safety, that is), I will take an Uber home from the airport, but never take one TO the airport before leaving on a trip. I generally have no problem with Uber, but don’t want the driver chatting me up and finding out that my house is going to be vacant for a week.

    2. Michaela T

      This is exactly my experience. I have looked into AirBnB for travel before, but have never ended up using it because for slightly more money I always find a nice hotel room with privacy and free breakfast and all that. However, I take Lyfts rather than cabs because I usually feel safer and more in control due to the information the app provides (GPS, picture and name of the driver, etc.) and my ability to rate the driver. All of this is probably different from city to city, though.

    3. ThatGirl

      I feel somewhat similar — we use Lyft regularly; I find it much more convenient in our suburban area than figuring out which cab company doesn’t suck, and honestly I think there’s risk involved any time you get into a car, whether it’s with a stranger or not. Lyft tracks where you are, it’s easy to complain or flag the driver, and often cheaper.

      I understand more hesitancy about AirBnB, because there’s no “management” to go complain to at a front desk and you may not always know what you’re getting into. I have friends who have used it with zero problems, but if I were on my own I’d prefer a hotel.

    4. Detective Amy Santiago

      I think you can also post your ride to your Facebook so people can follow it in real time. I have never done it, but if you’re really concerned about safety, that might be something to consider.

      1. Kate 2

        Yeah, but are people on Facebook going to bother doing anything if you are assaulted/raped/murdered? Because that hasn’t been the case usually, from the articles I have seen. Most people just watch the crime video that was posted, even in real time, and don’t call the authorities.

        1. Lissa

          I assume that if you’re posting it so people can specifically check on your safety, yes, they would call the authorities if something happened. The types of videos you’re talking about are very different circumstances.

        2. LBK

          Uh, what? I’m so confused. How is this in any way a point against Uber/Lyft/etc, any more so than it is getting in anyone’s car but your own including cabs?

      2. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

        That might help find your body and convict someone after the fact, but it wouldn’t really stop a crime in progress though. I’m with ThatGirl that there is risk anytime you get into the car wether it’s with a licensed taxi driver or an Uber driver — but having GPS tracking or facebook real time video or any other passive surveillance technology isn’t going to keep you any safer. It’s like having a house alarm. The alarm is mostly a deterrent to convince thieves to pick a different house. But if they’ve already determined they want your house, the authorities won’t get there in time to stop it.

    5. Pollygrammer

      Uber/Lyft put you at much less risk for fare fraud too, I feel much more secure with them than with cabs.

    6. turquoisecow

      Yeah, that’s a good point. You can also share your ride with someone else, so if you go off the radar, they know where to start looking.

    7. BPT

      Yeah, I feel like people who bring up the “Uber/Lyft drivers attacking passengers” stories forget that this happens in cabs too…and I’d much rather be able to track where I’m going in an unfamiliar city by GPS rather than just trusting where a cab is taking me.

      I wouldn’t be bothered by an AirBnB either. YMMV, but there are nice AirBnBs out there that are better than some budget hotels.

      This isn’t something I would push back on your work on unless there’s actual evidence that you’re unsafe (an AirBnB has weird people in it or something). If you do push back, you need to find something as cheap or cheaper, or be prepared to cover the difference.

      1. Kate 2

        But you can track your location on your phone with a cab too. And at least 2 people have died because they stayed at Airbnbs, which are totally unregulated. 1 of the 2 people who died was with a larger group who became very ill because of a gas leak. Apparently the “host” did home repairs himself, and unlike a hotel did not have any oversight.

        1. BPT

          You can see on the driver’s phone the route they are taking too to make sure they’re following the correct path and not just veering off track, and the route shows up in your app.

          Also, 2 people died at AirBnBs? Do you have any idea how many people have died at hotels? Just search “carbon monoxide hotel deaths” and you can see all the stories that come up, including one death and 11 ill earlier this year. Yes, regulations are good, but that doesn’t mean that they are adhered to. Plenty of AirBnBs end up being safer than hotels.

        2. Danger: Gumption Ahead

          But you can’t track who is driving the cab. It is not uncommon for the person driving to be subcontracted out by the holder of the hack license

      2. zora

        I disagree that she shouldn’t push back on any of these things, and be prepared to find something cheaper (!!). If a company said I HAD to make a different travel decision that didn’t feel safe to me, just to save a few bucks, I would be looking for a new job. My company says explicitly in our travel policy that employees should make reasonable decisions for their COMFORT and SAFETY. If a company is actually telling someone they have to stay in an AirBnB because it’s $50/night cheaper than a hotel, that is a terrible company and they don’t deserve to be in business. They should be able to afford the prevailing hotel rack rates if they need their employees to travel.

        Any employee, but especially more vulnerable employees (women, LGBT folks, people with disabilities) should be allowed and encouraged to make travel choices that make them feel safe, and if that is different for different employees, so be it. Just because 250lb former linebacker Joe is okay staying in an AirBnb and taking public transit at night from the airport does not mean that 100lb Kathy should be expected to do the same.

        1. Violet Fox

          If it is just about costs, a video conference meeting is even cheaper and everyone gets to sleep in their own beds at night.

    8. Amy

      Agreed. You hear the occasional horror story about Uber and Lyft, but as a mid-20s woman who has traveled a fair bit alone, I’ve also heard plenty of horror stories about taxis. I don’t feel particularly more or less safe in one than the other. Plus, in many cities, it’s easier and faster to call an Uber than to find a taxi!

      I don’t mind using AirBnB for personal travel, but I would find it a little odd if my employer asked me to use it for business travel. For personal travel, having access to a kitchen, etc. is a bonus, and if anything falls through or goes wrong, I can adjust myself–I don’t need to call the travel department, get a change approved, etc., I can just go with my gut and make changes based on my own budget. For business travel, I really don’t like dealing with uncertainty; it’s much more important that I have a place to sleep that is private and quiet, and that it will definitely be available, in good shape, etc., and hotels are better at offering that surety. But, I mean, there’s a lot of personal preference in there; there are probably people who would be fine in an airbnb for business travel.

    9. INTP

      I agree with all of this. I feel much safer in Lyft. I’ve never had a driver that creeped me out or seemed to be under the influence, which I have several times with taxis. I like that there is a record of whose car I got into, and a record of where they went.

      I’ve never used AirBnB because I travel alone and I’ve never found it cost-effective. A studio apartment always seems to cost more than a hotel room, and I’m not interested in staying in a bedroom with who knows who staying in the same apartment with me. (I’ve had friends that thought they were renting a bedroom in the host’s home but all the bedrooms were full of other guests.) I could see how a big group of people would prefer renting a whole house together rather than separate hotel rooms, though.

    10. ReanaZ

      I always find this attitude weird, because Airbnb has a WAAAAAAAY better safety record and a business reputation of taking safety seriously, whereas Uber is the exact opposite. Their CEO is (was?did he recently get forced out?) a rape-apologist nightmare who regularly says horrific stuffin public, and it shows. (And they treat/pay their workers like shit, and scab strikes etc.)

      I personally know THREE women raped by Uber drivers, who are still Uber drivers after it was reported. Plus all the countless horror stories online of nearmisses and harassment.

    11. Political staffer

      I had to use AirBNB once and I was not impressed. For the same price as a hotel, I got a twin sized bed and a shared bathroom.
      I’d rather have the privacy and amenities that hotels have to offer (free breakfast). For personal travel, I don’t get the appeal either because I’m traveling to get away from everyday household chores (cooking, etc), not to do them in another location.

  6. hiptobesquared

    The Airbnb thing – you can find them sometimes where they aren’t someones home but a rental property, and there are always reviews – so READ THOSE. I was really freaked out the first time, but I would again providing it’s an apartment they only use for this purpose.

    Uber/Lyft (I prefer Lyft because business practices but it really doesn’t matter) – Maybe I’m not cautious enough but I use them all the time and it’s always been fine. In larger cities you can do a shared ride, which is even cheaper.

    To some extent, everything is a risk, and I’ve stayed at hotels that were FAR less safe or comfortable than the Airbnb I used.

    I think you need to do what you’re comfortable with, no matter what.

    1. Llama Wrangler

      ” I’ve stayed at hotels that were FAR less safe or comfortable than the Airbnb I used.” Ditto — it would depend a lot on the locality, budget range, etc, but I have often found Airbnbs with very positive reviews in well-trafficked areas compared when the comparable budget hotel has mixed reviews and is on the outskirts.

      But I also agree strongly with Mike C. above on the huge range of oversight and regulation and the contribution of the “sharing economy” to negative externalities.

    2. michelenyc

      I have only used AirBNB for personal travel and I have never stayed in someone’s actual home it was a completely separate property from their home or apartment. I can sort of see using it for work if it was an extended stay type of situation but I would prefer a hotel out of convenience.

      I have no issues using Uber but I prefer Juno; they are cheaper and treat their drivers better. I have used both of these services for business and personal and have never felt unsafe. I don’t use Lyft so I can’t comment about that particular service.

      At the end of the day you have to do what makes you most comfortable but realize there will always be a risk.

      1. Zombeyonce

        I hadn’t heard of Juno so I looked it up; it appears to only be available in New York.

        I’ve always felt safer in Uber/Lyft than in cabs. There’s so much more accountability and the ratings make it a better experience. Also, you never have to worry about their credit card machine “suddenly not working”.

    3. irritable vowel

      Sometimes I stay in hotels, sometimes I stay at Airbnbs, for both personal and business travel. It depends on a variety of factors – cost, duration, location, reviews. In some cities it’s incredibly cheaper to stay in an Airbnb than a hotel, especially when things like free garage parking are included (in San Francisco this was an amazing perk). Duration: if it’s just for a night or two, a hotel is probably fine, but if I’m staying somewhere for a week, I’d much rather be somewhere where I can feel more at home, make my own breakfast in the morning, etc. (I only do Airbnbs where I have the whole place to myself – I’m not interested in being in someone’s guest bedroom AT ALL.) Plus a lot of Airbnb hosts will give a sizeable discount on a weekly stay. Whether I choose an Airbnb or a hotel will also depend on what’s available in the area I want or need to be. In some cities, when I’m traveling to a conference, the area around the conference venue is a business district so there aren’t residential units available close by. So, in that case I’d be more likely to stay in a hotel. And finally, the reviews are really key with Airbnb – so much more detailed and specific than what you get on TripAdvisor for a hotel, where some of the rooms in a hotel might be okay and the rest is terrible (definitely have had that happen), and you don’t know what you’re going to get until you arrive. The reviews on Airbnb are specifically for the place you’ll be in, so you can read about how firm the mattress is, whether the neighbors are loud, etc. You can’t do that with a hotel. I’ve never been misled by Airbnb reviews except in a good way, that the place is a lot more awesome than I expected it to be!

    4. NotoriousMCG

      I recently was on an extended business trip in NYC and was put in a very nice, very large hotel. After staying there about a week there was a night when two men used an employee keycard to enter our room. They left immediately when they realized there were people in it (I assume they were looking for an unoccupied room to hang out/do stuff in) but it was still terrifying. I’ve never felt unsafe in a hotel before then and I’m still fine with it, but I far prefer the privacy of an airbnb and knowing that I am the only person in the building.

    5. zora

      Actually, I’m the opposite with AirBnB. I will only stay in places people actually live in. I don’t like what ‘rental only’ apartments are doing to cities, and I actually want to know people around me, for increased safety, actually. I feel safer when people know each other than in completely anonymous places.

  7. Monsters of Men

    I have used AirBnB several times. I have had amazing ones. I have had terrible ones. They were all advertised the same.

    The terrible ones – I ended up getting a hotel, anyway. With a hotel you can bank on actually finding someone to complain to, and at least some level of quality and service. I love the fabulous AirBnBs I’ve found, but if you’re travelling a lot, a hotel is your best bet. And honestly, if you’re just not comfortable with the concept, I don’t see why you can’t stay in a hotel. There may be pushback, but you have to commit to your own safety, as well as reason that a hotel a) needs your business b) charges better rates for more amenities and c) is more comfortable.

    … seriously. I’ve had some AirBnBs not even mention they had rented out other parts of the house, and all of a sudden there’s 10 other strangers and no one flushes the toilet.

    1. Lil Fidget

      Only other comment about hotels I would make is that they’re usually better set up to accommodate your needs as someone from out of town. I often make use of the front desk, concierge, etc at hotels to assist me in getting around town or getting recommendations for safe travel. An Air BnB is cheaper because they have fewer (often no) services for visitors.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever

        Most if not all (can’t remember them all) of the Airbnb’s I have stayed in the hosts have guides printed out that they leave with all sorts of local information or will send it to you via the app. You can find Airbnbs that will offer breakfast. One place I stayed in was in a rural area on a big piece of property that has several different varieties of fresh fruit grown that were used in the morning breakfast spread that was 10x better than any breakfast I’ve had at a hotel, the host and cook was a professional chef. As with any Hotel/Cab/Airbnb/Uber your mileage will vary based on location and price point.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          I think that proves our point (I don’t want to speak for Lil Fidget, but I believe LF and I are on the same page for this discussion!)– that AirBnB, with the chef and the rural area, isn’t the norm. And it’s not consistent. If I’m traveling for business, I’d rather stay in a La Quinta, where I know I can at least get a yogurt for breakfast, than an unknown AirBnB.

          1. CmdrShepard4ever

            You are right not all Airbnbs are the same, but in most places I have traveled to it has been easy enough, if you do a little research, to find a good one with great reviews that has the same amenities if not more than a hotel at a cheaper price. When I travel and book hotels for work I often still have to do research to figure out what the best price/location/cleanliness/reviewed combo hotel is, that is the same with Airbnbs. I have have stayed at the “same” brand hotel in different locations and had very different experiences in staff friendliness/cleanliness and sometimes even the rooms, some hotels are newer/updated.

            1. Oxford Comma

              If I’m traveling for work, I’m working most of the time. In the first place, my employer will not reimburse for Airbnbs. Even if they did, though? I don’t have the time to mess around if something goes wrong with the accommodations. I’d rather know that I can most likely call down to the front desk and they will fix it ASAP. I’d rather know that I have everything at hand that I need to work and do my job at hand. I just don’t have the time or the patience to mess around waiting for the hosts who may or may not be able to handle the issues. It’s not like I’m traveling for fun with more free time.

        2. Elizabeth H.

          Yeah, I have found AirBnB’s quite pleasant in terms of the hosts giving us guides about nice local things. I haven’t done this personally (I’ve only done whole apartment rentals a couple times) but I have an ex who hosted on AirBnB a few times and he had fantastic experiences meeting people who were traveling through it. If you are open minded, like to travel and meet people it can be pretty fun. It’s always a risk but I find that most of the time – people are just nice, interesting, polite and happy to do their own thing (as guests, hosts, Uber drivers, whatever). I love meeting complete strangers and having an actual conversation with someone I’ll never see again and despite my other qualms with ‘sharing economy’ the human connection is a really nice up side for me. (And when I’ve been busy with work email or just don’t feel like talking, I’ve never had a hard time NOT making conversation during a ride.)

    2. EddieSherbert

      I’ve pretty much just had great AirBnBs – but there’s definitely a level of uncertainty you don’t get with hotels. I had one that didn’t leave us towels. I once had one that only provided one roll of toilet paper… and there were 5 of us there for a week.

    3. Smithy

      I love AirBnb but refuse to use it for work because I have had minor hiccups in regards to connecting around checking. Nothing of real note, but when I’m traveling for work I don’t want to think about coordinating checking in or what happens if I lose my key/the toilet has an issue/etc.

      1. Lil Fidget

        Agree, I think it’s great when it works, but if something goes wrong (something broken, locked out, accident on property) it can be a bit of the Wild West, and that’s not what I want to be dealing with on a business trip.

    4. Overeducated

      Yeah, I’ve booked an airbnb listed as “whole apartment” with one bedroom and one couch. Actually the resident was still there with her boyfriend since she had changed her travel plans, so we slept on a shared air mattress in the living room. I am so grateful I was traveling with a family member and not a colleague….

  8. SignalLost

    I have nothing constructive other than that I agree with OP – this is weird. I worked with someone last year who stayed in an AirBnB while in my city – he was here several weeks – and all I could think was how horrible that sounded. Potentially dangerous, with no time to be alone (having someone else in my home feels different from not, even if we aren’t in the same room), and really fundamentally disrespectful of employees and good practice for that level of travel. I think it should absolutely be pushed back on. I probably would also push back on the Uber issue, but in that case, I have many, many questions about the company’s ethics, and I would not feel safe or comfortable using the service with those issues.

    1. London Bookworm

      Was he forced to stay in the Airbnb or ‘forced’ by the company policy? There are some trips where I prefer an Airbnb (or similar) to hotels, so it may have been his personal preference.

      1. Engineer Girl

        It’s an important point. It’s one thing to choose these types of businesses for your own travel. It’s quite different having it forced on you by a cheap company.
        I’m usually carrying way more stuff on a business trip (larger laptop, paperwork) and I’ll also want a place to work after hours. A traditional set up works better under these conditions.
        There’s also the issue of illegal housing with AirbnB. In shouldn’t have to deal with that.
        Frankly, if the company hired professionals then it needs to treat them as such by footing the bills for appropriate level travel.
        This isn’t the same as me taking off with my backpack.

        1. SignalLost

          That’s a lot of it, to me. Based on LW’s comments it sounds like a piece of this might be uncommon group travel. I traveled once for a convention that my workplace (a major sponsor) was sending something like fifty people to. I thought it was reasonable from their viewpoint to insist we share hotel rooms and to route us all on bananas flights to the convention (only two people per flight out, as I recall, though flying back it was different and I think they got all of us on 3 or 4 flights). I would not feel that was reasonable if there was a smaller group going. I’m a professional – treat me like one.

      2. London Bookworm

        I used the wrong word there. I meant to ask if policy was forcing him or if he opted himself.

        1. SignalLost

          No idea. I wasn’t speaking for his experience. I was describing my experience of his experience.

      3. SignalLost

        Well, I never used the word forced, so I’m not aware of where that’s coming from. He seemed perfectly happy with the arrangement, though he did also have questions around whether it was okay to email someone something rather than texting them, so there’s that. What I said was that *I* thought that sounded horrible, *I* would not want to stay in an airBnB, and *I* would both push back and if asked for my advice by OP would say that was my advice.

    2. Rowan

      I’ll just point out that many Airbnb rentals are for the entire apartment/home/whatever. You aren’t necessarily sharing with anyone. I use it routinely for business travel, and I love it – I get a whole apartment, with a kitchen to cook my own meals, for less than a hotel, and often closer to where I need to be.

      1. L.

        Yeah, I’ve NEVER had an AirBnb in a place where someone else is living at the same time – always a whole apartment, condo, or even house.

      2. Arya Snark

        I’ve done AirBnB when I could rent the whole unit but only for personal travel. I’ve also done far more similar rentals with VRBO and never had any issues. The only time I’ve had shared space is when we rented a small mother in law section of a house. It had a private entrance, small kitchen, etc. The home owners lived upstairs and were wonderful – I saw one of them a couple of times but he wasn’t at all intrusive. The price was incredibly low for what we got – basically a dog-friendly 1 bed/bath apartment on the side of a mountain in an expensive resort town for a fraction of the price a hotel or condo would’ve cost.

      3. kb

        I’ve had really good experiences renting out the entire apt/home on airbnb. A lot of the ones I stayed in appeared not to be anyone’s actual home, which was nice, but I know that probably put some of them in violation of municipal codes and rental regulations.

      4. nonprofit director

        Most of these are likely illegal. Many apartments and condos have rules against short term rentals, and most residential neighborhoods have zoning codes that specifically prohibit STRs. Aside from likely being illegal, if it’s an area with housing shortages, these units are contributing to the problem.

      5. SignalLost

        Yeah, I know some people who e lost their leases so non-renters could provide that kind of amenity.

    3. Falling Diphthong

      Every time I’ve stayed in an airbnb, we’ve rented the entire apartment/house. I wouldn’t want to share a house with a stranger, but that’s far from the default. (My experiences have been good-yet-odd to excellent; I am usually staying with my spouse, children, and occasionally dogs.)

    4. AvonLady Barksdale

      A multi-week stay is the ONLY reason I would stay in an AirBnB over a hotel, but then only if you have the whole apartment/house to yourself. If you’re there for a long period of time, I would assume you would have time to shop and cook and basically maintain a normal routine.

      That said, a hotel would provide cleaning services, linen, toilet paper, probably a place to work out… so maybe I amend that. I would stay in an AirBnB if I had to, but I’d rather opt for an extended stay hotel.

      1. Lady Jay

        But you’d be stuck in a tiny hotel room! Much as I appreciate the free breakfasts and cleaning services of a hotel, I think I’d feel claustrophobic in a hotel for a multi-week stay; I’d prefer to be in an AirBnB, where I can make it into a home away from home (e.g. cook, run through the neighborhood, etc).

        Not that my job involves enough travel to make this anything but a hypothetical, of course!

        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          As with so many things, I think this depends, honestly. If I were in a city or town with walkable options, a hotel would still be my ideal. My longest business trip to date was a week-long stay in a hotel; I walked to and from the office every day and explored on my way. Plenty of restaurants to choose from, and the hotel had a wonderful lobby bar with a fireplace. I also had a place to work out in the morning. And when I got back to my (mid-priced, not exactly luxurious) room, it was clean and the bed was made. Loved it.

        2. Safetykats

          Actually most extended stay hotel rooms are more like a suite, or at least a large studio apartment. And most extended stay hotels have pretty nice common areas if you really want to get out of your room – as well as coffee bars, restaurants, exercise facilities, and sometimes a spa.

        3. Oxford Comma

          YMMV. While I’d love to do this if it was a legit vacation, the last thing I want to be doing while I’m traveling for work is having to find a place to get groceries and cook.

          I think it’s great if you want to do that, but the LW should not be pressured into having to do the same if she doesn’t want to.

    5. Engineer Girl

      Uber has a laundry list of ethical violations. Not just privacy breaches but outright blatent discrimination against women engineers.
      There is no way I would ever use them.

      1. SignalLost

        At this point, the list of things I find deal-breakers that Uber has done is too long to even detail, but they are definitely villains, and I would not be comfortable supporting them or being required to.

    6. Danger: Gumption Ahead

      I’ve done AirBnB for work when I couldn’t get a reasonably priced hotel. I was able to get an entire apartment, alone, for 1/2 the cost. It isn’t unreasonable to use AirBnB, VRBO, HomeAway, etc. for business trips, you just need to look for bookings for the whole property, not a shared space.

    7. zora

      Meh, if I’m staying somewhere for several weeks, I would probably prefer an AirBnB. I love having a kitchen to use so I don’t have to eat out all the time, and can feel healthier. So, I would see where that guy was coming from.

      But no, I don’t think any company should require AirBnB for work travel, and the OP should feel totally comfortable pushing back with a statement about safety and preferring a hotel.

      1. SignalLost

        And I don’t cook even in my own home, so not a huge hardship for me. A lot of this is going to come down to personal preference. Also, the colleague I mentioned also didn’t cook, so that wasn’t a factor in his thinking.

      2. Ledgerman

        I’m baffled at all these comments about kitchens, as many of the hotels I’ve stayed in for work have full kitchens in the suites! Any extended stay place, Townplace Suites, etc. will have appointed kitchens – and not just in the U.S. – I stayed at a business travel-type place in France that had a kitchen as well.

  9. London Bookworm

    I think it’s perfectly understandable to prefer hotels to Airbnbs – for any number of reasons. In addition to safety, there’s a lot of conveniences available with hotels that you don’t regularly find with apartment rentals. (Even “little” things like that they often provide complimentary coffee, or that if you lose your room key you won’t be locked out for the duration of your trip — or that you can amass points, which may be useful to you.)

    I also think if you’re generally reasonable about other things, it won’t be so hard to push back against using Lyft or Uber. Although perhaps the company may ask you to cover the additional fees for a taxi from the airport? Not sure if that would be reasonable, but if it makes you feel more comfortable, maybe it’s worth considering.

    1. GG Two shoes

      As a Airbnb host (with a superhost badge and 50 stays under my belt) I just want to say that I also provide free coffee, and I am always available to the guests if they need let into the house if they forgot their key.

      I’ve had nothing but good guests- a couple of weird folks who were a little interesting about body language cues (i.e. I wanna go back to my book but they wanna keep talking!) – but everyone has been lovely. I’ve met really interesting people and I’ve loved it.
      To each there own, though.

      1. London Bookworm

        You sound like a lovely host. Personally, I’ve had some wonderful experiences with rentals (although some not-so-hot ones), but they vary more and require more research than your average hotel, so I can appreciate that people prefer hotels for business trips.

    2. DaniCalifornia

      I agree. I have only used Uber and Airbnb while traveling with my husband. And the Airbnb was private, we were the only ones staying in the 1 room apt, the owner was gone. I would prefer to stay in a hotel if I was traveling alone or for business. As for Uber, I don’t often travel alone so I don’t know if I would care about that or not.

    3. myswtghst

      Your first paragraph pretty well sums up my thoughts. I’ve done AirBnB for a vacation and had an amazing experience, but I’ve also spent years traveling for work and in those instances a hotel better met my needs. To your point about conveniences, there are some amenities I find useful for business travel that are just more common in hotels than in an AirBnb (business center with printer, good WiFi, gym, etc…). I wouldn’t be opposed to using AirBnB for business travel, but I do recognize it would require much more thorough research on my part to ensure I found someplace which met my needs, had plenty of good reviews, and was in the right price range, instead of just searching for the nearest [hotel chain X] hotel to my worksite.

  10. JB

    I can’t speak on vetted car services, but taxis are not necessarily safer than Lyfts/Ubers. I have heard many horror stories, and have first hand experience, of dangerous/endangering/threatening/abusive behavior from taxi/cab drivers. Lyft and Uber have inherent safety features that taxis don’t have: you can see a picture and name of your driver before they even arrive, which you can share easily. You can message your friends and enable them to track your ride. The apps are tracking your ride so there is a record of where you went, at what time, with whom, etc.

    I’m not saying that Lyft/Uber are risk-free, but I do challenge the impulse to consider the thing your used to as the safer option.

    1. Kate

      In my office, Uber is actually preferred to taxis for security reasons. One, payment is handled all electronically. There is no “oh you only gave me a 10 when it was a 20”, no fumbling with cash. The other is that the route is clearly displayed on your phone and theirs, so there is less risk of the driving taking you on some circuitous route in an unfamiliar place or of taking you off route entirely.

      1. Oryx

        And, along with the routes, if they do take you on some circuitous route you can submit a complaint to Uber and they’ll do a partial refund. (I’m sure Lyft does the same, but I’ve only had to do it with Uber.)

        1. MJLurver

          No need to do that anymore, since as of May 2017, upfront pricing means riders pay the amount they’re quoted before placing the request for a trip. So, if a route ends up being a little longer due to detours or an accident that your driver needs to get around, the passenger will not have to pay one cent over the price they were given when they requested the ride.

          That’s the beauty of upfront pricing: if a driver needs to go around some major traffic jam and it adds a mile or two to the route, the passenger is not effected in any way – they still pay what they were originally quoted at the time of their ride request.

    2. BPT

      And in Ubers/Lyfts, I’ve never had the driver say, “Oh my card reader isn’t working, you have to pay me in cash. Oh, you don’t have cash? You can’t get out of the car – I’m going to drive you to an ATM where you can pull out cash for me.” (Note in DC this is illegal, but it doesn’t stop cab drivers from trying to do it, as they badmouth other ride-sharing services to me.)

    3. Arya Snark

      I feel far more comfortable in a Lyft than in a taxi. You get the license plate #, picture of your driver, route tracking etc. Where I live it is also far cheaper as well. A ride from downtown to the burbs where I live – a distance about about 11 miles – would be $80 or more in a taxi but can be as low as $15 for a Lyft.
      My biggest complaints about Lyft services have been very slow drivers (would not exceed the speed limit, timid with merging) and too much talking. I’ve also had one driver back when I still used Uber that kind of smelled bad and the last lyft I took either had far too strong of an air freshener or too much Axe on. I’ve been in far more taxis with smelly drivers/cars who were maniacs on the road so…

      1. zora

        That article is also almost 3 years old, which is a long time for these kinds of things. Uber and Lyft have made a lot of significant policy changes in the last 3 years, and local regulations in some jurisdictions have changed significantly as well.

        I agree with your main point, but I wouldn’t use that article to prove my point.

  11. AdAgencyChick

    I’m actually surprised you are allowed to use Airbnb — aren’t many of the rooms nonrefundable, or have a much less forgiving cancellation policy than hotels? My work does not allow Airbnb except under pretty extreme circumstances (like a client asking us to attend a very large conference at the last minute, and the only hotel rooms available are eye-wateringly expensive), simply because business trips often get canceled or rescheduled at the last minute.

    1. Falling Diphthong

      No. The cancellation policy varies by property, in a way that I find quite commensurate with hotels. (i.e. Some let you cancel a day before, some you’re paying half the price if you cancel a week out.)

      1. Lindsay J

        Last I checked the website didn’t have a way to sort or filter by cancellation policy, though, which is kind of a deal breaker for me. I kept on clicking on pictures of spaces that I liked, only to find that almost all of them were non-refundable cancellation policies which made them completely non-viable for my purposes, and it took too much time and effort.

        I don’t know if they’ve added this feature (back? I swear they did have it at one time) but until they do I can’t really see myself using it again.

        Hotels at least you can sort of learn by brand what their cancellation policies are and limit your search that way, plus a lot of the hotel search engines will allow you to sort or filter based on that criteria.

    2. MCL

      I work for a state university and we are forbidden to pay for AirBNB from university funds (if you’re picking up your travel expenses personally, different story). Uber and Lyft are okay to expense, though. It’s the non-refundable nature of AirBNB that makes it verboten.

      1. BPT

        Many AirBnB properties have liberal refund policies, including full refund up to the week or day before.

      2. Oxford Comma

        I also work for a state university and that’s the policy for Airbnb. We can’t use Uber or Lyft either. Well, we can, but you’re not getting reimbursed.

      3. Kelly

        I also work for a state university and same policy applies. The new person went to an out of town conference and booked a room on AirBNB, assuming that she’d be able to submit it for reimbursement like she did at her previous employer. Her request was denied and she wasn’t happy about that. The whole situation could have been avoided if she had asked the travel and reimbursement person, who’s awesome at her job, before making the reservation if AirBNB was covered.

        Her and the boss are both going to another conference next month in New York City. I’m honestly surprised that both of them were approved to go considering that it’s going to be more expensive than last years because it’s in NYC. It’ll also leave us short staffed so I really hope that neither myself or another colleague get sick during that time. I hope she doesn’t use AirBNB, having learned a very expensive lesson from last spring.

        1. WillyNilly

          Many AirB&Bs in NYC are illegal as well, a detail AirB&B lets slide. Short term (less than 30 day) rentals in multidwelling residences (apartment buildings) are considered illegal sublets, even if its the owner (of the building or unit) who is renting it out.

  12. Goldie

    My company uses Uber all the time, it is a very common item in our travel plans and expense reports. So I do think it’s odd not to use Uber/Lyft. But definitely AirBnB does not happen! I’m laughing even thinking of our team being told to use AirBnB; that would not go over well.

  13. BBBizAnalyst

    I don’t use traditional taxis. It’s a headache when drivers are sometimes cash only and/or the card machine doesn’t “work”.

    I find Uber/Lyft safer because of the gps/tracking. I can share my ride and when it comes to paying, its automatically deducted from my credit card. I’m a woman in my early 30s.

    Now for business, I would never stay in an Airbnb. It’s too much of a coin toss staying in someone’s home that may not be clean.

    1. Mike C.

      If the machine doesn’t work, then you don’t have any cash on you. I’ve heard this helps in fixing the machine.

      1. AnonyMouish

        But sometimes drivers get angry or aggressive or insist on driving you to a cash machine, which I believe is what people are reacting to.

      2. starsaphire

        That’s been my experience with taxis as well. It’s almost like magic. ;)

        Personally, I love Lyft. I’ve been taking it a lot in the last year or so, and I’ve never yet had a driver yell at me — the taxi drivers that I encountered on my previous commute yelled at me a lot. Like, a LOT. To the point that I refused to do business with a couple of particular taxi companies, and then I got yelled at about that too.

        But – everyone’s experiences vary, and I absolutely believe that there are people who get great taxi service and terrible Lyft/Uber service in their particular city.

      3. BPT

        That’s when they lock the doors and try to drive away with you in the car to go to an ATM. I will never take a cab if I don’t have to.

        1. V

          Does that really happen? I’m seeing a lot of comments here about those kinds of “let’s go find an ATM” scenarios and have heard the same from colleagues and I’m kind of surprised at how common it appears to be. I think I’d be dialling the police the second that happened and filing a complaint with the taxi company afterwards.

      4. Lindsay J

        It does, and I usually really don’t have cash on me. (And actually I generally do ask as I’m sliding into the car if they take cash to head off the bullshit at the end). But I still don’t like dealing with the song and dance. I shouldn’t have to.

        Plus with Uber or Lyft I don’t have to get out my wallet at all, which makes me feel less vulnerable (I don’t know that the taxi driver hasn’t attached some sort of skimmer to his reader, or if he’s going to make a grab for my wallet, or manipulate the price in some way, or if someone on the street is going to see where I put my wallet away and then pickpocket me, or if I’m going to just be plain stupid and drop my wallet in the cab at which point I know I will never see it again.) And if you’re not in a populated area of the city, booking a taxi and getting it to you on time is a huge hassle.

        That being said, I have serious concerns about the ride-sharing companies and particularly how they try to strong-arm cities and manipulate customers into supporting policies that are good for them but bad for the drivers, the passengers, and the cab companies.

        (Like Uber threatening to pull out of Houston before the Super Bowl if the city didn’t drop requirements for the drivers to get background checked and get their cars inspected by the city before being allowed to drive. Thus enabling Uber to flood the market with even more drivers now that all barriers to entry were pretty much eliminated, letting Uber cut down on surge pricing and cut down on reimbursement rates for drivers, and letting them undercut the taxi’s by wider margins.)

        I’m kind of hoping that Uber and Lyft wind up acting sort of how the original Napster did in reshaping the music sales industry. Sure getting free songs on Napster was great for the consumer, but it was bad for the singers and producers and also there was a good chance your computer would get viruses. And also it was illegal. But what we were doing before – paying $20 for a CD when you only wanted one song off of it – sucked, too. But even though Napster was ultimately shut down it sort of paved the way for $.99 pay-by-song model and now streaming models that dominate today and that seem to be a good balance for the consumers and the producers.

        I think the best we can hope for is that Uber and Lyft drive the taxi companies into adopting more customer friendly traits – better customer service, the ability to book and pay and tip via app, lower prices, etc – (or that cities/states hold their ground and force Uber and Lyft into adapting to fit laws that were put into place for consumer protection. But since last I saw Uber was still burning through venture capital money and wasn’t self sustainable as is, I can’t imagine having to pay more to follow regulations will be possible for them.) Or that it sparks more innovations along the lines of ZipCar etc.

      5. Uberist

        In London, home of that mythical beast, the clean taxicab with a polite driver, many taxis didn’t take credit cards until recently. (One driver began lecturing me when I *asked* to go to an ATM so that I could pay him in cash.)

        Magically, they introduced widespread credit card readers around the time Uber became a thing.

        Now Sadiq Khan wants to ban Uber. Maybe Trump was right (gasp) about him.

        1. Rebeck

          In Melbourne, Australia, it’s been probably 15 years since I had to worry about whether a cab would accept card. They’ve all had EFTPOS machines for at least that long. But then, I get the feeling our taxi services are more regulated generally than those in the US.

          Personally I’m not comfortable with ridesharing services, although friends who live in Melbourne/Sydney are. However my employer (major campus is in Melbourne), forbids the use of Uber and AirBnB for business travel – and I think the legality of both is still unsettled here.

          1. TL -

            I think so – the cab service I used here in Sydney seemed to use a Uber like platform with super quick pick up times. That was not my experience in Boston (though I did always have clean, polite cabs and drivers, this may have been because it was through my work and the company was invested in the relationship.)

        2. Zoe Karvounopsina

          And currently Uber are under investigation in London for their treatment of their workers.

          Maybe Trump was right (gasp) about him.

          Sorry, would that be when Trump criticised Khan’s handling of a terror attack?

      6. LBK

        The last time I tried to tell a cab driver I didn’t have cash he pulled over and started screaming at me to get out. So I’m not exactly champing at the bit to try that approach again.

      7. INTP

        This does have a 100% success rate in fixing the machine in my experience, but I also think it’s reasonable for people to prefer a mode of transport where no one tries to extort cash from them at all. Especially when the only real benefit to using a registered taxi over a Lyft is to benefit the taxi drivers trying to extort them.

  14. Lil Fidget

    To be there’s a distinction between air bnb versus uber/lyft, at least in my large city. Taxi drivers here often have Uber/Lyft decals on their windshields as well, so they’re really all the same people as far as I can tell. Also, I do think you’re overestimating the security of cabs. It’s not uncommon here that the driver is a substitute for whoever has the license anyway. I might think someone was a little green if they refused to join a group in a lyft on a business trip and insisted on calling their own cab (although I’d probably just chalk it up to somebody’s eccentricity and forget all about it once we were together again).

    I have stayed at an AirBnB for work because my coworkers were doing it, and it did feel markedly less professional than a hotel (the owner was living upstairs, and all of us shared bathrooms). Unless I was directed explicitly to do so, I probably wouldn’t do that again.

    1. Temperance

      This. I once had a cab driver lock all the doors and drive past my stop to threaten me after I told him I wasn’t paying cash. I had another cab driver purposely take me to the wrong train station so he could try and get a bigger fare. (I called Uber in front of him, BTW.)

      I had a cab driver follow me through a parking lot, honking and cursing at me out the window while I was walking. When I called to report him, the craptastic management company told me it must have been my fault because he was “in a hurry”. He wasn’t, BTW. He was sitting outside of the store when I came out.

      1. JB

        Temperance, I’m sorry you’ve had these experiences. A +1 seems inappropriate here, but I wanted to chime in that I have had very similar experiences with cab drivers, and often.

          1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws

            I’m in Philly and my experiences have been similar, so I’m a lot more comfortable using Lyft than cabs. I’m sorry for the cab drivers who don’t suck, because I’m sure it’s actually most of them, but I’ve had several cab experiences that were outright unsafe while the worst I’ve had with Lyft to date is some awkward small talk.

    2. Nacho

      You can filter out Airbnbs whether you get the whole place, a room to your self with other people in other rooms, or a shared room with other people.

    3. nonegiven

      I dont think OP was objecting to taking Lyft with a group, she was arriving alone and objects to taking one alone.

  15. Nope

    Where I live, AirBnB and ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft are not allowed to operate. Taxis and hotels have licenses, are regulated and have protections in place for the customer. I let my boyfriend talk me into staying in an AirBnB when we were traveling once. Never again. There were all kinds of issues and we ended up out most of our money and scrambling to find a place to stay at the last minute after we already arrived. If we had used a hotel none of it would have happened and even if it had we would have had protection under the regulations and would not have lost money. I don’t use services like this that are not regulated and I don’t blame the letter writer for feeling the same way.

  16. Temperance

    I wouldn’t stay at an AirBNB for business travel, but I honestly do find preferring a regular cab to an Uber to be strange.

    I’ve had numerous scary experiences with taxi drivers, regardless of how well they are vetted (which, btw, is like not at all). I would find someone who was resistant to Uber/Lyft to be out of touch. It’s honestly a myth that you’re safer in a cab than in an Uber.

    1. Sarah M.

      There are places where services like Uber or Lyft are not allowed to operate, not regulated, there is no vetting or licensing and no ride-sharing insurance is offered for the driver. In places like that I can see not wanting to use Uber or Lyft. Otherwise I do agree with you though. In places where they are allowed it is safer.

      1. Violet Fox

        It can also be awfully hard for a business traveler to know if they are in one of those places or not. Finding out for everywhere that people could be potentially business traveling to seems like a interesting use of man-hours to me.

        1. Lindsey

          When I travel for business, I usually just find out when I get there – it’s not time consuming to turn on the Uber app, see if there are cars around, and check if there are yellow taxis outside. Uber is generally more readily available if I’m not at an airport; for example when I take the train to random towns in Connecticut for client meetings – calling a taxi would take far longer.

  17. kittymommy

    I’ve never used airbnb mainly because I have not had the need for it, but it wouldn’t bother me to use it. I do use Uber and Lyft and I find that I actually feel safer in them than I do regular taxis. I’ve also found the cars much nicer, cleaner, and safer mechanically-wise than most taxis.

  18. Natalie

    The last time I regularly did any business travel (2ish years ago) we took Uber to the airport a lot, but it wasn’t any kind of corporate mandate, it was just more convenient because taxis in my city are hard to book and we don’t have street hailing or cab stands. Plus we were traveling in a group, and taking Uber Black rather than UberX. (Uber Black is their original flavor that hails a car service vehicle, so it comes from an actual company with state licensing, business insurance, etc, rather than some random. It was my favorite and it annoys the bejesus out of me that they seem to have abandoned it to focus on UberX now.)

    I’m having a hard time imagining any company that’s spending the money to fly 12 people to some other city really needs to save $30 on a few cab rides. Even if every person was taking their own cab, the savings ($360) is one person’s airfare *at best*. And if money is that tight, they need to globally rethink how much business travel they’re doing and whether it’s truly critical.

  19. AvonLady Barksdale

    Uber, I don’t have a problem with. I’ve had pretty consistent experiences. In fact, my one business trip transportation horror story involved a taxi driver (which doesn’t put me off taxis in general). I have a specific Uber account linked to my business card and it’s pretty easy.

    AirBnB… done it twice, won’t do it again. The first time, the location was terrific (close to the office I was visiting) but there were problems with the place itself (the shower was kind of busted). I was traveling alone and didn’t feel quite as comfortable as I normally do in a hotel, where I can order takeout or get a drink in the hotel bar. I also prefer to be in a place where I can call downstairs if I forgot toothpaste; after a long day of travel and project work, the last thing I want to do is try to find a drugstore or go without. The second time I stayed in an AirBnB, the place was great, but it was in a pretty isolated part of the city with very little around. I was able to grab a bite somewhere close, but my options were really limited. When I stay in hotels, the locations are better, and more than that, I can go downstairs and ask real people for recommendations. And there’s usually coffee. I recently stayed in a vacation rental without those conveniences and it was great, but that was vacation/personal; I had time to shop for groceries. Don’t have that on a business trip.

    I don’t usually feel unsafe in these situations, but I do like to have creature comforts, convenience, and people around me (and not in my “living space”, thank you very much).

    1. Lil Fidget

      If I’m traveling for work, which is draining, I admit to appreciating the consistency of hotels. I know what I’m going to get when I stay at one of the brands I’m familiar with – even if it’s low budget, it’s familiar. Air BnB is such a mixed bag. I’m more willing to roll the dice with a vacation than I am with business travel.

      1. Trig

        Yeah, I love Airbnb for personal trips, where I prefer to cook my own food and have a ‘home base’ in the city that feels more personal than a hotel.

        But for a business trip, if I’m expensing meals anyway? It’s definitely fun to stay in a slightly fancier hotel than I normally would and eat out! The (one) trip I’ve been on was just for a few days, to go to a conference in a major city relatively close to mine. It was totally luxurious. I flew there in one hour instead of taking the four hour train, stayed in a nice hotel right downtown next to both the convention centre AND our office in that city, and went for fun walks to find lunch at new take-out places. For dinner I met up with other people from my company attending the conference. I was totally drained at the end of the day, so it was really nice to come back to a simple, clean room. What I get out of an Airbnb on a personal trip would have been totally wasted on me for that business trip.

      2. LBK

        This an interesting perspective. I don’t travel for work but having done AirBnb for some of my longer trips, I enjoyed staying somewhere a little homier than a hotel; I’d think that at some point that same benefit might be applicable for frequent work travel. Although there is definitely the upside to a hotel of having everything done for you when you get back from working all day and don’t want to have to deal with making your bed or whatever.

      3. myswtghst

        Consistency is a great point. When traveling for work, most of my time in my hotel room is spent working, eating, or sleeping, and it’s valuable to me to know that the bed will be comfy, there will be wifi, and I can call the front desk if I need something. Plus it’s nice to have some familiarity when traveling a lot for work, which I was doing, even if it is just the type of shampoo or quality of the sheets.

    2. EddieSherbert

      This is pretty in tune with my experiences with AirBnB as well. I’ve stayed at some really nice and cool places, but had to put more effort into getting food/hygiene products/information about the area – which is fine when I’m just on vacation and taking things slow, but could be a pain in the butt if you’re working.

      1. London Bookworm

        Yeah. I generally prefer Airbnbs when I’m on vacation and I have my partner and family with me; hotels for brief trips or business travel.

        It’s nicer to hang out in an apartment when you’re a group of several people, but fine to hang out on a hotel bed if it’s just you!

  20. Nanani

    Between the safety issues (which a share) and the business practices/exploitation that some of these companies are known for, I wouldn’t agree to it either.

    1. Artemesia

      I find using Uber a moral choice too; the business model is to create a class of impoverished workers without benefits. The long game is to destroy the cab industry. We just don’t. Air BNB — we have rented entire apartments and houses with mixed results; they tend to be less clean than vacation apartments we have rented through agencies but sometimes they have been terrific. I would never rent a room in someone’s house or certainly not expect an employee to do that. Icky and not safe.

      1. Natalie

        I don’t love Uber’s corporate team for any number of reasons, but I think it’s worth noting that cab drivers in most cities are a class of impoverished workers without benefits, too.

        1. Pollygrammer

          Yes, even when the “cab industry” was doing well, cab drivers were still being treated really poorly.

        2. BPT

          And the cab industry refused to innovate or make any improvements until ride-sharing companies came to DC. They wouldn’t even take cards until just a few years ago when they began losing business to Uber and Lyft. Cab drivers were notorious for refusing minorities and people with disabilities. Ride-share platforms help solve a lot of those problems. I don’t disagree that Uber’s corporate policies aren’t great, but cab drivers were no “beacon of morality.”

          1. Violet Fox

            Ride sharing companies are also notorious for not taking minorities, not having any cars in predominately minority areas, being really bad at handling people with disabilities….

            1. Uberist

              I used to have a relative who lived in the Bronx. Cabs either outright refused to go the neighborhood, or claimed they didn’t know where it was. This was yellow cabs in NYC, which probably had the best reputation in the country. I would not be surprised if Uber drivers refuse trips to bad neighborhoods, too, of course.

              1. Detective Amy Santiago

                Yeah, but if an Uber driver cancels a ride, it counts against them. If they do it too often, they could be removed. There is no such oversight on cabs.

      2. Snark

        “I find using Uber a moral choice too; the business model is to create a class of impoverished workers without benefits. The long game is to destroy the cab industry.”

        I find the former argument compelling – the gig economy is bullshit, and I think the fig leaf that drivers are “independent contractors” is transparently inane – but I personally am totally okay with the cab industry as currently concieved biting the dust.

        1. Pollygrammer

          And with all the discussion of safety issues for riders, it’s worth noting that Uber is considerably safer for drivers too. Their location is tracked, they don’t carry cash, and problem customers can be flagged.

        2. Consuela Schlepkiss

          So, Snark, I just lived in your city for the fall semester and took cabs quite often. I used one particular company, named for a local feature, and it was a clean, consistently well-run, and safe way to get around. I don’t want to see their jobs bite the dust. They did a great job, and they deserve to do well.

          1. Snark

            Are you PCBH?

            Not sure which cab company, or which city, you’re referring to – which city are you referring to?

            1. Consuela Schlepkiss

              No, I am Consuela Schlepkiss, have been for a while. I thought I understood you to be in Colorado Springs?

              1. Snark

                Oh. I wondered if Princess Consuela Banana Hammock had gotten a new handle. Never mind!

                And yes, that’s where I’m at. And that particular cab service is, in fact, generally decent. Most of my cab experiences came when I was living in Denver, and most of the cabs there would merit a very different description.

                1. Snark

                  In any case, hope you enjoyed it here! It’s kind of a meh little city, but it happens to be located amidst world-class scenery and recreation, so it balances out for me.

          2. zora

            Ok, those drivers are nice and I don’t want them to lose their jobs either.

            But, the owners/operators of cab companies had ample opportunity to address these issues and make their services work for customers before Uber came along. Uber just saw pain points that the cab companies were refusing to address: taking credit cards, using technology to find passengers, being prompt, etc. If they want to use some of their profits to fix these things and therefore make the drivers jobs better and more secure, they still can. It’s not exactly Uber’s fault, the owners/operators just wanted profit more than they wanted to improve their services.

            1. Violet Fox

              That’s the thing. Where I live you could order a taxi with an app long before anyone had heard of Uber (the taxi companies made their own), taxis have taken credit cards since at least the 1990s. They aren’t legally allowed not to accept cards. They have to carry taxi licenses, have a police background check, have a road map test to make sure they know the basics of their way around the city (GPS is often wrong/out of date here), granted not as through as The Knowledge but still, taxis have to be dedicated cars for commercial use, the companies are required to have wheelchair accessible vans, and carry commercial insurance. The cars are clean and relatively late model, and have to follow extra regulations with regards to emissions.

              With the more general question, it is not odd at all to assume that business travel involves things like hotels. Where I work has around 8,000 employees and it uses a travel agency to book hotels, flights etc to save money.

              This seems to have turned into a forum for people to weigh in on “sharing economy” v. traditional economy, and I’m pretty sure that is not what the letter writer was asking, other then yes, people seem to use this stuff, but mostly for private use, not business use.

          3. Uberist

            I don’t want to see their jobs bite the dust

            What about horse-and-buggy drivers? Should we have not used cars because we were worried about their jobs, too?

        3. lawyer

          Yes. Uber/Lyft are successful because people (generally speaking) are unhappy with the current taxi industry. There are a lot of issues with rideshare companies, but the taxi industry writ large is dysfunctional, and consumer choice reflects that.

          I’d add my own stories about my awful experience with taxi service (ranging from the fact that in my city your odds are significantly less than 50% that the cab actually shows up when called to the multiple experiences of sketchy, threatening behavior I’ve experienced), but they’re amply represented above.

          1. kittymommy

            I think this is where I’m at. When in in NY or DC i generally do car service or Uber/Lyft. There were a few times I’ve taken taxis (more recently) that I thought I might actually die! In my smaller town the taxis are not reliable both in time and the actual car itself.

        4. Stephanie

          I think you can hold both viewpoints (or I do, at least). I live in Pittsburgh, where it can be impossible to get a cab sometimes. So I think Uber/Lyft are fulfilling an unmet need. That being said, I can’t help but think that the drivers are getting the short end of the stick. Everything in Pittsburgh is like 20 minutes away, if there’s no traffic. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone’s making a ton of money off $9 Uber rides, unless they are just constantly driving (and then there’s all the wear and tear on your car).

          The cynic in me thinks that Uber and Lyft are pushing so hard for self-driving cars so they can stop dealing with the headache of the drivers (because I think eventually, the courts will rule that they’re employees).

        5. LBK

          Yeah, I guess this is what I always come back to: clearly Uber doesn’t have a corner on the technology since Lyft and other competitors have mimicked the service in pretty short order. So what is it that prevents traditional cab companies from leveraging the main thing that makes Uber a unique experience for the rider: the on-demand, accountable nature of the app? Is the infrastructure supporting the app really so costly that regular cab companies can’t support it without Uber’s mercenary cost-cutting measures?

          1. Snark

            That’ a great question, and I guess my best guess is….human organizations are rarely perfect decisionmakers. Why didn’t Xerox patent the mouse? Why didn’t Blackberry innovate the touchscreen smartphone? Why did IBM squander the PC market?

            1. LBK

              Oh, I’m not saying this is a failure on Uber’s part – I’m saying I don’t get why cabs haven’t ripped them off yet (seemingly to their own detriment). Why haven’t cab companies started layering Uber-esque technology on top of their existing services so that they can offer the best of both words: the regulation that reassures people about the safety of cabs AND the on-demand nature of Ubers?

              I guess what I don’t know and what I’m semi-genuinely asking is: are the regulations Uber isn’t subject to somehow the impediment here? Or are cab companies just cutting costs their own way, ie by keeping their system decentralized and not providing any kind of updated infrastructure to support their employees in serving the modern customer’s expectations?

                1. LBK

                  Right, and what I’m saying is now that Uber has designed the new ball, why haven’t cab companies started copying it?

        6. NaoNao

          Yep, I’m totally okay with the cab industry biting the dust too. They had a complete chokehold on the paid private transportation industry and they blew it. Over and over. Dirty, un-maintained cars. Mean, scary, harassing, uncooperative drivers. No taking credit cards. Scams. Userious minimal fees/fares. Terrible dispatch services. Remaining “analog” long past the point of reason or usefulness.
          That’s not even to get into the totally corrupt “medallion” industry, the consistent overwork and underpay for their drivers, and the lack of innovation, customer service, or a good product.
          Cabs are only around because people had no other choice.
          Now they do and the industry, like horse drawn carriages, land lines, vinyl records (and the music industry as a whole!) are being eclipsed by consumer adoption and demand for a much, much better product and service.

          1. zora

            Wow, you said what I was saying but so much better! I might copy your comment for future arguments with my friends about car-sharing apps! ;o)

      3. Detective Amy Santiago

        The cab industry is largely useless in a lot of places though and having Uber/Lyft available gives people without vehicles more opportunities.

      4. Emily Spinach

        They’re trying to redefine who counts as an employee, which is super concerning to me in general and as a union member specifically, so I try not to use Uber or Lyft or similar “gig economy” businesses. But whenever I travel, anyone I’m with is so used to using them as a default that I hesitate to argue too forcefully. I feel bad about it though.

        1. Overeducated

          I agree. I never use them myself and will go to some inconvenience to avoid them for that reason (to the extent of taking sick time to drive an adult family member with an eye injury to the doctor recently), but I don’t argue with colleagues who do prefer to use them on the very occasional basis we’re on our way somewhere together. They will say outright it enables them to get by with no car or one family car, which I know can be tough even around DC, and I don’t want to actively trash their life choices.

          I am not sure how forcefully I would argue against it as a corporate policy. I guess it depends how much power I had and how much vulnerability in this hypothetical situation.

          1. TL -

            This is how I feel about it – never on my phone but how other people spend their money is not my business. Though if they ask, I’ll tell them why I don’t use them.

    2. Consuela Schlepkiss

      I agree with this wholeheartedly. I worked for the grocery version of Uber for a while, and while it was fun enough and promised flexibility, the gig economy is really based on creating an underclass of work who don’t get steady employment and are constantly competing against each other and ratcheting metrics. My coworkers and I talked about the explicit commonalities between the structure of our enterprise and Uber, and about how these models are constructed an atmosphere of fear. As well, as corporate profits increase, pay and reward structures for the lowest-level employees become worse. This is not borne out in the taxi cab industry here, which also tends to provide jobs to refugees and immigrants. I prefer giving them my money.

      As far as the safety issue goes, I’ll just say I know about how bad Uber can be, even with all the supposed vetting, so I give no credence to the argument it is safer.

  21. Fiennes

    Personally I prefer Lyft for business travel, because I always get an electronic receipt—so, so easy to forward for reimbursement. Sometimes you can get this with regular taxis, but not always, and I prefer the certainty. While I’ve heard horror stories, I’ve personally had good-to-neutral experiences; the only two times I’ve felt menaced by a driver, I was in traditional taxis.

    Airbnbs are definitely different. I have used them for business travel—but only when I found a place that had dozens to hundreds of positive reviews and represented a real savings. I’m also more likely to look for an Airbnb when the trip is longer than 3 days, as I’m more likely to want to settle in/cook/etc. For neither business nor pleasure would I take an Airbnb where I had only a room, not the entire place to myself. All that said, it would never strike as odd or difficult that someone wanted to stay in a hotel. But I find nothing unprofessional about staying in an Airbnb, either.

    1. Fiennes

      Wanted to add: one of my clients, a mammoth worldwide corporation, now strongly advises Uber/Lyft almost to the point of mandating it. You don’t absolutely have to (yet), but the process with paper receipts for this stuff is now little used and so slow as methuselah.

      1. Lil Fidget

        Oh man, I’m jealous! My work makes it easy to submit receipts, but a payment on an ap is harder to demonstrate and gets more questions.

        1. Natalie

          Both Uber & Lyft email receipts, I’ve never had to somehow show payment on the app. Maybe you have that turned off in your settings or something?

      2. zora

        Some cabs use Square, though, which also sends an electronic receipt. My boss uses that a lot, so from finance’s perspective it’s exactly the same as Uber/Lyft.

        But our company encourages Uber/Lyft because it often is cheaper than cabs, but they would never require it. If an employee said they felt safer using cabs, they would never in a million years push back on that. It’s a difference of a couple hundred dollars per year, to compromise an employee’s feeling of safety for that much money is ridiculous.

  22. Amber Rose

    I’d probably suck up the Uber/Lyft if my company insisted on it, but AirBnB is a definite no from me. I mean, think about if your boss was like, “we can’t afford a hotel so stay at my cousin’s place instead.” It’s not an exact parallel but it would feel like it to me. Who knows how clean some random’s house is going to be? Ugh.

    The only reason I’d be OK with Uber is because at least it’s a short time period, and I could probably text someone when getting in/out. Also taxi drivers are not always perfectly safe either, credentials or not.

    1. Amber Rose

      Though I guess I should qualify my answer somewhat with Uber not being particularly useful around here, since our mayor refused to let them operate until they had more or less the same standards as taxis. The insurance is pretty expensive and they need a special class of plate, so there aren’t too many drivers.

  23. Katie Beth

    I suppose I don’t understand how renting a whole home Airbnb with three bedrooms is different than renting, say, a three-bedroom condo for three staff members? You don’t have to share with the owners and can rent the whole place. I do hear about problems with quality and even hidden cameras, but that can happen at hotels, too.

    1. Mike C.

      There are huge differences in regulations when it comes to private homes vs hotels. Things that directly affect you, like fire safety.

    2. designbot

      This is where I fall on it as well, I’m not comfortable renting a room in someone else’s (occupied) house, but am comfortable with a guest house or private apartment situation. As far as fire safety as Mike mentions above, houses still have inspections at construction, apartment buildings still have inspections usually every couple of years, and there should be sufficient fire exits for the occupant load it was built for. Now if the company’s asking you to cram 10 people into a 1 bedroom apartment, that’s a different story, but assuming reasonable use that’s not a concern for me, as someone who works in the design industry and know how fire inspections work.

      1. Natalie

        houses still have inspections at construction

        My house was built in 1905. I’m not sure I’d take a lot of comfort in whatever inspection was done at the time!

        1. designbot

          And yet you feel comfortable living in that house. Why is a place you visit held to a higher standard than a place you live? No snark, genuinely asking–some folks are clearly framing this in their head in a different way than I am, setting a higher bar, and I’d like to understand where that comes from.

          1. Rusty Shackelford

            When I lived in a hundred-year-old house, I knew when the electrical system had been updated, and that the work had been done by a professional, not by the owner. I knew there were working smoke and CO detectors. So yeah, I felt more comfortable in my old house than I might in a house that was safe because it met code when it was built, 100 years ago.

            1. KellyK

              Exactly this! As the owner, you have control over the maintenance and upkeep. As a visitor, you just have to trust/hope that it’s been done at some point, by somebody.

          2. Natalie

            I think it’s a good question. I assumed you mentioned inspections as a contrast to a hotel inspection, which was part of my point – hotels are inspected routinely in most areas, while private houses aren’t.

            But generally, I don’t know if I would say it’s a higher standard, but rather *any* standard. I happen to know that the batteries in my smoke/CO detector are changed every six months, and that the fire extinguishers are in location A and B and aren’t expired, and where all the windows are, how they open, which one gets stuck, and so on. Whatever risks I take in my own home are my choosing. Nor am I charging myself extra to stay there.

            Personally I’m not opposed to Airbnb, I’ve stayed in them occasionally. But I think it’s fine for someone to decide the risk is too high for them and the fact that the home was inspected once when it was built wouldn’t mitigate that much in my mind.

          3. Autumnheart

            Because you own the stake in the house and have control over the amenities. You don’t have a stake or any control when you rent a place—you have to pay and then hope that the stakeholder provides what was promised. This is especially problematic when you’re in a strange location with limited access to your own resources, because you are much more vulnerable.

          4. Mike C.

            Because I know the place I live, so if there’s a fire I know where to go. Some strangers house? No clue.

      2. Rusty Shackelford

        Every hotel I’ve visited in the last several years has a sprinkler system. Are these common in private apartments?

        1. Jubilance

          Depends on your location and when it was built. My current apartment has sprinklers in every room but the building was built less than 5yrs ago. I’m sure older buildings are grandfathered in.

            1. Rusty Shackelford

              Right. I wouldn’t expect sprinklers in, for example, a 1- or 2-story single family home, just as I don’t have them in my own house. But if I’m too far up to jump out a window, I expect sprinklers. I get them in a hotel. I don’t know if I’d get them in someone’s apartment.

              1. C

                Actually, California, Maryland, & DC are requiring the installation of sprinkler systems in new construction single family homes now. The change only came about in about the past 10 years though. And older homes are not required to be retrofitted. And some other states require it in certain size homes or are in the process of updating their laws.

                Technically, building code requires the single family home sprinklers in all new houses – but not all jurisdictions have adopted the newer code yet.

                Apartments/condos have required sprinkler systems for longer.

        2. designbot

          Depends on the method of construction. Most private apartments in my area are more of a low-rise (5 stories and under) Type 5 situation and so it’s not required.

        3. Fiennes

          If it’s in an apartment building, the building itself will have had to pass safety inspections. If it’s a house, probably not—but you also probably don’t have to run 30 feet along a hallway and six floors downstairs to get to the nearest exit, either.

          1. Rusty Shackelford

            No, because at home, I have multiple escape routes and they’re all on the ground floor.

        4. Stephanie

          I don’t have them, but I’d assume my building is grandfathered in (it’s about 60 years old).

    3. London Bookworm

      Yes, I’m generally thinking of Airbnb (on this thread) as equivalent to just any rental home.

      That said – I think it’s reasonable to prefer hotels. And I do feel that quality is easier to address with hotels. You can generally request to switch rooms, for example, if something isn’t working, and there’s always someone at the front desk you can speak to. With most home rentals, you’re having to communicate by phone or e-mail to people who aren’t present, which can make it harder to sort out issues.

    4. Overeducated

      Except I have rented a “whole apartment” where it turned out the resident and her boyfriend changed her plans, stayed, and gave me an air mattress in the living room. It was…awkward…and totally different than a hotel or condo.

      I guess you can rent out what are basically commercial properties on airbnb now, but that isn’t how airbnb markets its core service.

    5. INTP

      My issue with AirBnB for business travel is that you want it to be as efficient as possible, and if problems do happen it just takes longer to get them resolved with an AirBnB. Most business hotels have someone around 24/7 so you can check in whenever you arrive rather than have to meet the host at a certain time, you can move to a new room immediately if there is something wrong with the room rather than waiting hours for AirBnB to find you a new place if the issues are truly unacceptable, if the wi-fi or hot water are broken someone will probably be up to fix it pretty quickly whereas residential landlords can take days to resolve things ime, etc. If I’m in town to work all day anyways, I don’t want to spend a second more time than necessary resolving accommodations issues just to save a few bucks.

    6. Political staffer

      For me, I’d prefer a hotel than 3 staff members sharing quarters because I can retreat in privacy for the night and not worry about interrupting someone watching TV in the living room, etc. I just don’t want that much togetherness.

  24. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws

    I’d be comfortable staying in an Airbnb by myself for work travel if it were my choice, but I’d be very uncomfortable with it being mandatory. Generally speaking, you know what you’re getting with a hotel, but with an Airbnb it’s more of a wild card, especially if it’s a popular destination or there’s some kind of conference or event in the area. It’s very possible for all the places that meet your needs to book up quickly. I wouldn’t fault anyone who’s just not comfortable with the idea of staying in someone’s house, either.

    A couple years ago I attended a conference with a coworker who was super insistent on staying in an Airbnb as a group. That group being myself (female, early 20s at the time) and two much older male coworkers. The Airbnb was on Bourbon Street. I didn’t doubt his intentions were “Airbnb is cool and cheap,” but he couldn’t see why it would be weird for me to walk past a row of strip clubs with them on the way from lodging to conference and back. Fortunately the wonderful business administrator told him that even if it was cheaper, everyone had to be fully on board with it, so despite a guilt trip from him I was able to stay at the conference hotel. I would’ve been extremely uncomfortable otherwise.

    1. Fiennes

      It is hilarious to me as a New Orleanian that he was trying to sell a Bourbon Street Airbnb as “cheap.” Those are probably the highest rates in the city!

      1. Elizabeth H.

        AirBnB isn’t allowed in the French quarter as of a while ago though isn’t it? And yeah, I can’t imagine anyone shelling out to stay ON Bourbon Street while at a conference.

        1. Fiennes

          The state of Airbnb in the city is still in flux. I’m personally a user of Airbnb, and I love the service, but I also strongly believe cities should have the right to regulate the number of Airbnbs in a certain neighborhood, particularly historic ones. New Orleans is particularly vulnerable, because it’s a place people come to party hard; ergo, 2 or 3 Airbnbs on a block here can be much more disruptive to a neighborhood than it would be in a place where tenants would be primarily businesspeople, folks visiting their families, etc. The Quarter is definitely the most at risk, both because of the age/historical qualities of the buildings and because the partying levels are so high. (And at odds with much of the rest of the Quarter; once you get a few blocks from Bourbon, it can actually be very quiet and neighborly.)

          1. Grits McGee

            Plus the larger issues with housing pressures post-Katrina. There’s definitely tension between long-time residents that lost their homes (either destroyed or couldn’t afford to repair) and newcomers/operators taking up housing stock to serve tourists.

      2. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws

        It was actually cheaper than putting us all up in the hotel, which was a short walk to Bourbon Street, so it did make some practical sense. He just couldn’t get why it would be weird.

        1. Fiennes

          No doubt — but there would’ve been Airbnbs farther down in the business district, and not much farther either (ie, easily walkable), for much lower.

          1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws

            Ah, I get what you’re saying – yeah, it’s hilariously transparent how much he didn’t actually care about the bottom line so much as he wanted an employer-sponsored frat house and used “it costs less overall!” as a way to get it approved. I found out later he tried to get the BA to convince me I had to stay there because of the lower cost. Ugh.

  25. Murphy

    I can see it being nice to have that option, but I wouldn’t want to be required to use one of those.

  26. Wakeen Teaptots, LTD

    I spent the last week travelling with a team and honestly, taxis seem anachronistic and weird and confining to me. We jetted around happily in Ubers (although for personal use I prefer Lyft at home). We needed larger capacity so called Uber Xs, never had to wait more than 5 minutes, and had nothing but happy experiences.

    For sleep, give me a real hotel or let me stay home :)

    (Age reference very late middle age! And happy if I never ride in another taxi again for the rest of my life.)

    1. Rusty Shackelford

      I’ve never used Uber or Lyft – don’t need it at home, don’t know if it’s an option for business travel – so I’m curious about this. How are Uber/Lyft less confining than a taxi?

      1. Wakeen Teaptots, LTD

        Well, it’s more comfortable. My experience is Philadelphia taxis with a lot of plexi glass and worn upholstery, or south jersey taxis (as if you can actually have one arrive hours later when you call) that are really old and beat up. A Lyft or Uber is hopping in the back seat of your really clean neighbor’s pretty new car. (I have claustrophobia issues which don’t get triggered in a Lyft or Uber and do get mildly triggered staring at a wall of plexiglass with things pasted to it.)

        1. Temperance

          Philly cabs are also amazingly dirty. I have also seen drivers smoking inside of their cabs, which is forbidden.

        2. Rusty Shackelford

          I’ve always wondered about the state of the drivers’ personal cars. Nice to know they tend to be in good condition. Are there standards, like, how old the car can be, does it have to have working a/c, can the driver smoke when they’re not engaged, etc.?

          1. Doctor What

            I don’t know about Uber, but Lyft has VERY strict rules about the condition of your car. Age varies by area, but it’s around 2008 or newer car, no visiavle body damage, no smoking in vehicle (even without passengers), interior also needs to be clean.

            Passengers can ding a driver in reviews and you can eventually get pulled of as a driver if your car doesn’t meet standards

            1. Squeeble

              Yeah, Lyfts I’ve been in have consistently been very clean and comfortable. My faves are the ones who put little amenities in the back seat (mints, Kleenex, phone chargers).

          2. Temperance

            There are pretty strict standards. Stricter than cabs, for sure. They need to be fewer than 10 years old, to start.

      2. trigger

        They’re much quicker to order (from your app in a second instead of having to google local taxi firms and ring them up, not knowing which ones are best or to be avoided or don’t cover your area), you can see where the driver is so no waiting around for half an hour while the cab office lie that ‘he’s just round the corner now love’, you preselect your destination so you and the driver already both understand where you’re heading (unlike many cabs I’ve had where the driver has asked me for directions or expected me to google the post code for him), and you pay via app so you know the cost ahead of time and don’t have to mess around with getting cash from a machine. It’s brilliant. No desire to ever use a regular cab/taxi again after many fantastic experiences with very friendly professional uber drivers in squeaky clean cars.

        Plus you can rate one another which seems to give incentive to act professionally, and often means perks like mints or sweets in the back seat pockets. I’ve been hit on many many times by taxi drivers as a 20 something woman alone in the middle of the night and there’s zero comeback for them. With uber it has never happened to me I guess as they know I can publicly rate and comment on them!

        Another excellent safety feature is that both of your phones show the route you’re on and you can share this with others so you can let friends know which car, driver, reg plate, time and location you’re at. With a regular cab you have to personally text your friends the number plate (if you remember to memorise it) and if you go off track nobody knows where you are.

        I resisted uber a little at first as I didn’t understand how it worked and it seemed unnecessary but i would hate to have to lose it now! It’s a breath of fresh air and traditional cab companies need to shape up and compete or they’ll be squeezed out entirely. I reckon in a few short years there will only be uber/lyft in the places where those services are available.

        1. Wakeen Teaptots, LTD

          UGH now I am flashing back to the number of times I’d call the dispatcher to ask where my cab was and be baldfacedly lied to that it was just “five minutes away”. I love following the little car icon on my phone. Doesn’t lie to me!

          Oh also, you know how much it costs total in advance, so no anxiety about total fare at the end either. No watching a meter ring up and up and wondering where it will stop.

          1. trigger

            Yep it’s brilliant! I love being able to just go outside when the car is almost there instead of standing on the street for ages being lied to about its distance from me!

          2. zora

            Also by putting in your destination before they accept the ride, no more cab driver locking the door, asking out the window where you are going and when you say “Brooklyn” having them say “NOPE” and drive away.

      3. Lady Phoenix

        Better customer service
        Able to pay with a credit card
        Able to recognize your driver and vehicle
        Able to review your driver or know your driver is good

  27. Katniss

    Plenty of people have legitimate moral objections to AirBNB too. I wouldn’t want to use it for any kind of travel.

    1. Agnodike

      That’s how I feel. I don’t use Uber or AirBnB because I oppose their business practices, and I would be pretty miffed if I was being forced to do so as part of my job.

  28. hotels all the way

    I have a family member who almost died in a fire in an Air Bnb rental. Unlike a hotel, there were no rules in place to enforce the fire code so things like smoke detectors and exits were lacking. The only reason my relative survived was because people from nearby homes on the street came to his rescue. If he had stayed in a proper hotel there would have been smoke detectors, sprinklers, fire escapes etc. Thankfully he survived and didn’t end up with permanent damage. I won’t touch Air Bnb with a 10 foot pole.

    1. Mary Connell

      I’ve never stayed in an Airbnb, but for a contrasting experience, I stayed at a Midwestern hotel during a cross-country drive. It was a major hotel chain and it was beyond gross. It stunk of mildew and had carts of linens and other items stored in the hallways. Surfaces were broken and grimy. The night clerk was creepy and made me fear for my safety. I would be very surprised if it had working fire systems. The only reason I didn’t leave was because it was late at night and every other hotel in town was full for a conference. Fortunately after I described the problem to the corporate office, they comped the room, but it still makes my skin crawl to think about it.

  29. Morning Glory

    I would find it pretty weird if a junior (I assume, as you say you are a young woman) colleague refused to take an Uber or Lyft when they were half the cost of a taxi. I wouldn’t tell you I thought it was weird, but I would probably think it. It may be a regional thing, as I’m in an area that heavily uses these services and they’ve become ingrained as the norm, and safer than public transportation.

    I think the Airbnb aspect may be a place where you have more standing to push back. I use Airbnb a lot in my personal travel, and have seen plenty of consultants use it when they want to keep costs low for clients (always a full home rental, never doing a private room in someone else’s home). However, it’s not standard yet, and if someone preferred not to stay there in a professional context, that would not be very surprising or off-putting.

    1. Yorick

      I would think objecting to an Uber was super weird, too. Uber and Lyft are at least as safe as cabs (my feeling is that they’re much safer). I would think someone who refused to use it was greatly out of touch, and I might question their judgment, depending on how their refusal sounded and what they’re like otherwise.

      I have used Airbnb for personal vacations and loved them, I’d gladly use it for work. I think it’s much more comfortable than a hotel. And if you book the whole apartment and choose a place with lots of reviews and lots of photos, you know what you’re going to get. But I guess I’d understand if someone didn’t feel the same way.

      1. trigger

        Same. It would come across super weird and anachronistic to state you refused to use uber in this day and age.

        Air b n b I understand a little more as it doesn’t come with a guarantee of privacy like a hotel, you don’t know you won’t be sharing common areas or bathrooms with other strangers. It seems fair to me to not want to stay in someone’s home where you’re asleep and vulnerable with expensive belongings (whatever your gender).

        1. Morning Glory

          It sounds like her colleagues were renting out a house or apartment though, so they would only be sharing that space with one another. Every time I’ve done Airbnb, I have rented the entire place and had guaranteed privacy, which is a search option you can select.

          I agree that if a company asked me to do an Airbnb that was not a completely private unit, I would give them serious sideye.

          1. Bramble

            But that wouldn’t give you any privacy from your colleagues. One advantage of hotel rooms, assuming that each person has their own room, is that they’re a personal private space. A group of coworkers renting a house/apartment doesn’t provide that.

  30. OlympiasEpiriot

    I’m definitely on the old fogey end of the age spectrum, but have stayed in lots of unusual lodging situations over my life.

    BUT, for business travel? Nope. Hotel. When I travel for work, I have to make sure I am as well-prepared for dealing with the work issues as possible. This is far greater if I am in a hotel, even a budget hotel, where I have access to some staff in case of a problem, and preferably where there is an attached or very close-by restaurant, even if it is just a chain place.

    Staying in someone’s home or guest house can be great, but, I also know from experience that they can take a lot more work on the part of the visitor. If I am travelling for work, I’ve got a full day scheduled.

    I don’t like Lyft or Uber for a lot of reasons, but, I probably would use them if there is no other option.

    1. OlympiasEpiriot

      By the way, as a company, it is worth noting that Uber is losing money. Everyone goes on about how cheap it is, but the drivers get paid very little and the company itself might not last as they don’t turn a profit. For all the libertarian and gig economy rhetoric, they can’t manage their way out of a paper bag.

      1. Corporate lawyer

        “Not turning a profit” is common among pre-IPO tech companies. Amazon has never turned a profit. It is not a sign of mismanagement, but inherent in the industry economics. (Query, of course, whether it’s fair to compare Uber to a typical pre-IPO tech company at this point.)

        1. London Engineer

          Amazon has been making a profit for a while. And the scale of Uber’s loss is astronomical even for tech companies, billions every year, and the loss is growing not shrinking. Their strategy seems to be to be the cheapest until they either achieve unassailable market dominance or self-driving cars save them. The first doesn’t seem likely to happen any time soon and is pretty vulnerable to competitors taking the same route. As for the second, besides the legal hurdles, which are not small, there’s a little entity known as Alphabet which would like to have a word with them.

      2. Nico M

        It’s deliberate though. They are hoping one day they can turn round and gouge vast profits out of us.

        This is why we need to crush them now. ;)

  31. Jesmlet

    Mid-20s woman as well and I feel uncomfortable riding in an Uber/Lyft or a taxi alone, but definitely feel more comfortable in the taxi. That said, if I was paying for it myself and the price differential was what you said, I’d opt for the Uber/Lyft. In terms of the Airbnb, I don’t see such a big issue with that. Whether it’s a hotel or someone else’s home, you’re still sleeping where other people have slept recently and you still can’t predict how clean it is. It’s all a matter of balancing comfort with affordability for me.

  32. BRR

    We allow both with Airbnb being a recent addition that felt like it happened begrudgingly at the strong urging of employees, it was not forced as a cost-saving measure. My organization has a lot of people who travel internationally and my understanding is that Airbnb is often cheaper and there are often times no hotels that are available or convenient.

    I personally am ok with uber/lyft (I’ve had some downright scary taxi rides) but Airbnb freaks me out still (I’ve never used it, which might not be a fair assessment).

  33. ThisIsAnAlias

    I’ve read just as many horror stories about cabbies (and experienced worse treatment from them personally) so I’m far more inclined to take uber. I also think Uber tends to be the directive also because it’s just one app that you can use from city to city (mostly), you can track the route taken and the expense easily so if the company is reimbursing you for travel vs. giving you a travel allowance that’s easier too.

    Airbnb is less standard, but if there’s a big group of people it is nice to share an apartment than a few different hotel rooms in my opinion.

    1. Fiennes

      Oh, gosh, I’d never want to share with coworkers. I really like having someplace to retreat to on work trips. But I’m getting off-topic, since that’s equally true in hotels or airbnbs…

  34. Kate

    I think Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb are becoming a lot more normalized, so I don’t actually thing it’s outrageous that a company would book these for employees, especially if they are a penny pinching company like a nonprofit or something, since these options are cheaper. For long term travel (say a few weeks), I can understand Airbnb being appealing since you can get your own apartment where you are free to cook for yourself and have some space to breathe. But, I also understand your concerns, OP. I have never taken Uber or Lyft because I carry the same skepticism, and I stayed in my first Airbnb a few months ago that ended up having so many bugs that I slept on the couch the last two nights since there were less bugs in the living room than the bedroom. For me, staying in a hotel is the perk of work travel, which can be exhausting. So I would definitely try to push back a little.

  35. Secretary

    I can understand not wanting to use AirBnb. Uber and Lyft? The risks associated are just as high as taking a taxi or limo, just because someone got a license does not mean they’ll be easier to prosecute. The rumors about high assault risks is propaganda from companies they are replacing: taxi cabs, limos/town cars etc.
    Even if being asked by work to take and Uber or Lyft is not normal now, within a few years it will be.

    1. ThisIsAnAlias

      Yes agreed! I’ve had nothing but lovely Uber drivers (though sometimes they are occasionally confused by directions) but I’ve had more than my fare share of mean taxi drivers. Thankfully I’ve never been physically assaulted by one, but one time I was coming home from a friends house late at night, so I took a cab. I said I was paying with a card (which was pretty normal to do in cabs by this point) and the cab driver was SO PISSED. He made a huge show of plugging in the machine and yelling at me that he loses money when I pay with a card and yada yada. I obviously didn’t tip him after that performance and he has the gall to look at the receipt and get mad at me for not tipping him!! I was a young woman, alone in a cab at 2am with the driver freaking out at me, it was not a pleasant experience. Ever since then I’ve been very pro-Uber.

  36. LegalStaff

    I have a concern with using group share ride services due to the personal injury protection requirements for insurance. In most cities (YMMV), taxis are required to carry $1 million in liability insurance, whereas your Uber or Lyft driver might just have the state minimum. If you get hurt in an accident, you may be on your own for medical bills, property loss, pet injury or death, etc.

    1. Lil Fidget

      I’ve heard something similar about Air BnB actually – if something goes wrong, you’re not covered the way you would be in a hotel.

      1. Anna

        I think there are areas that are starting to regulate AirBnB like hotels, but I would think that if something happened to you on someone else’s property you would be protected under their homeowner’s insurance?

        1. Natalie

          There are a couple of issues that I’m aware of. Mainly, I don’t think most people actually have a super high personal injury limit on their policy. I know when we were going to have a home wedding, I asked my insurer about increasing our policy to $1 million. It didn’t cost that much, but apparently before that we were at half or less that limit. And a homeowner isn’t going to have an excess liability umbrella policy like a business would. $1 million might sound like a lot, but if you’re talking about a serious injury with lost wages and long term disability, it’s basically nothing.

          Additionally, depending on the terms of the policy it may be voided by renting out the home. Then you’re stuck trying to collect something from the homeowner, and good luck with that.

          1. Rusty Shackelford

            Slightly OT, but when we got a $1 million umbrella liability policy a few years ago, I was surprised at how little it cost. And it allowed us to reduce the liability coverage on our cars, which made it even cheaper. But I don’t know if it would cover us using our home as a business. (I suspect not.)

            1. Natalie

              It can be surprisingly cheap, but as you say it probably does not cover using the home as a business, because of course that would increase risk and thus the premium you pay.

              Also it’s worth noting that when I had a ton of business tenants, the *lowest* limit we allowed was $5 million and a lot of our tenants had $15-20-25 million in coverage. I wonder if you could even buy a policy that large for your home at any price.

        2. CAA

          Homeowners insurance generally does not cover business use of the premises. Most policies will not pay out for something like an AirBnB renter falling on icy stairs. You could sue the host for damages; or more likely, your own health insurance company would decide to sue the host to recover their costs after paying your claim. This is actually a huge problem with AirBnB, because most hosts don’t have appropriate business insurance and are putting themselves at huge financial risk.

    2. Lynca

      This is a legitimate concern. I /know/ with homeowners only this would be a serious issue. There’s a reason I know people that have additional insurance because they operate businesses from their home and there’s a risk of injury to employees due to the nature of the work (farming).

    3. eplawyer

      That is the biggest concern. Uber/Lyft do not fully explain the insurance they have to the drivers. The drivers think they are covered under Uber/Lyft’s policy. Then there is an accident and they find out they have to use their own innsurance. Who refuses to cover the accident because they were driving for a business and didn’t update their policy.

      AirBnB I have no comment on. Sometimes it could be good for work, sometimes it could not. Just like a hotel. Hotels have security issues. Hotels have terrible service. Etc. So this is it depends.

  37. Snark

    I personally think the expectation that business travelers should use AirBnB is pretty off base. I’ve had good AirBnB stays and bad ones, and while it can be a fun gamble traveling on your own, I don’t think business travel is an appropriate context. Traveling for work is fundamentally a fairly unpleasant imposition, and it’s everything that makes traveling suck without the upside of having a good time. So I think the least any employer can and should do is to provide comfortable private rooms in a hotel for their employees. If an employer feels the need to cost cut, they should look at the frequency of business travel required, not at downgrading the accomodations.

    However, as far as Uber goes….I think OP is approaching this with a level of sensitivity to perceived risk that I find extreme, and I think it’d be worthwhile to interrogate why a tiny, tiny number of “horror stories” gets blown up in their minds to a level of threat this high. There are literally tens of millions, perhaps hundreds, of Uber rides every day. The chances of being involved in a horror story are so tiny as to be entirely discountable. Uber is convenient and it’s cheap, and it’s no different than a chauffered car or a taxi, in terms of risk or of comfort.

  38. MrsJ

    Not out of touch at all! My company won’t even reimburse for Airbnb or Uber/Lyft as travel expenses, unless we can show we had no other options. (I work in a conservative industry, and they’re weird about some things.) Personally, I’m more comfortable in a hotel. When I’m traveling for work, I’ll share an Uber/Lyft with coworkers if that’s what they want; but my preference if I’m travelling alone and don’t know the area is to stick to taxi, shuttles, or public transportation.

      1. Elizabeth H.

        Agree. Regardless of what one thinks about these services terms of one’s own personal choices, it’s become completely normalized. Refusing to reimburse Uber rides as business expenses is very strange.

        1. Oxford Comma

          I work for the state. They won’t reimburse me for it. Are they out of touch? Yes. But am I going to fork over my own money and not get reimbursed? No. Am I going to leave my job to go work in an industry where they will reimburse Uber/Lyft/Airbnb? No. At some point, some bureaucrat somewhere will allow reimbursement for these services, but until then, I use what I can get reimbursed for.

      2. zora

        Yeah, in my company the finance people vastly prefer Uber/Lyft because the receipt has a map of the ride with the exact times, so they can be sure people aren’t sneaking personal trips into their expense reports. And it’s usually cheaper than traditional cabs.

        However, they would still never require it over a cab. They encourage everyone to make the choice that works for them in the moment to make their travel comfortable so they can get the most effective work done on their trip.

    1. Yorick

      If you don’t know the area, Uber or Lyft is way better than taxis. Uber tells you the fare before you get in, so you don’t have to worry about the driver going the long way to increase your fare or adding a bunch of phony upcharges at the end of the trip.

  39. K.

    I’ve experienced and heard enough stories about racism on AirBnB that I don’t use it. There are Black-operated versions that were started in direct response to the racism that Black people & other people of color faced when trying to book that I’d use instead (my brother uses these) but really, I go for hotels, especially for business travel. Where I used to work, the company had a travel department & you weren’t allowed to book your own travel, so I doubt AirBnB would be allowed.

  40. SF2K01

    I work for a university, and we have a contracted car service, but people often take the Ubers because they are more more readily available & reliable, don’t require as much advance notice, and are significantly cheaper. They’re definitely equivalent to Taxis as far as we’re concerned so we’d even recommend them.

    I don’t know of anyone who’s used AirBnB for business travel, though I know people have used it for personal. I think that sort of thing we’d be happy to reimburse if that’s what someone wanted to use, but it hasn’t come up.

  41. Detective Amy Santiago

    I use Lyft daily and I would definitely think it was odd if someone pushed back against using it or Uber when the cost was half as much as a regular taxi.

    The Air Bnb thing is a little more understandable since you’re basically staying in someone’s place.

    1. Artemesia

      It is half as much because of running the business at a loss until competition is driven out, underpaying of employees, no benefits etc.

  42. CmdrShepard4ever

    I can understand the reluctance of someone to use Airbnb or Uber/Lyft but I think the risk is blown way out of proportion. Yes you hear all these horror stories about Airbnb/Uber/Lyft but you don’t hear about the many more successful experiences on the news. I have have heard of similar horror stories that happen in cabs/hotels as well.

    It is kind of like air travel and cars, if you based your ideas based on the news you would think air planes are much more likely to crash vs cars but that simply is not the reality. I almost exclusively use Airbnb/Uber now unless they are not an option and have had usually great experiences. Any sub-par Uber/Airbnb experience that I have had I have also had in a Taxi/Hotel. My usual sub-par Uber experiences are a driver who talks to much and that also happens in cabs. I have used Airbnb a couple dozen times in the past 6 years and all have been great experiences. With Airbnb there are options to just rent a single room in a larger place or rent out the entire place.

    I think in the future Airbnb/Uber might become more common and might seem a little out of touch. But as long as a cab/hotel is similarly priced to Airbnb/Uber I don’t think it is a big deal to use a cab/hotel. In the OP’s example of a $60 cab ride vs $29 Uber ride if I were a manager I would insist on the use of Uber.

    1. TL -

      I don’t Uber and I wouldn’t stay in an AirBnB for work, for various reasons. If my manager was insistent on saving $31, I would be looking for a new job.

  43. YarnOwl

    For me, the chance of someone coming into my Airbnb to attack me doesn’t seem lower than someone coming into a hotel room to attack me. I always just stay in Airbnb’s where I have the whole place to myself unless I am traveling with a friend and will have them with me. I don’t really see why a hotel would feel safer than an Airbnb, unless your work is insisting you have a shared house or room, which I would also not want to do.

    I can understand more with using Lyft, but I also feel like a chauffer or taxi drive has as much of a chance to attack you as an Uber or Lyft driver does. When I take a Lyft by myself, I usually screenshot the driver’s profile and send it to a friend or my parents and tell them where I was picked up and where I’m heading to.

    Overall, I guess I can see where OP is coming from, but I think Lyfts and Airbnb’s are just as safe as their traditional alternatives and are usually cheaper, so I can also see why your company would want to use them.

  44. Valegro

    Most of the terrible Uber assault stories I’ve heard were people picking up rides without going through the app. I like that it tracks which car and driver I have versus a taxi there’s no record.

  45. Hmmmmm

    Depending on the city, many Uber/Lyft drivers actually are legally private drivers with professional car licenses. For example, in NYC, Uber is often safer because the driver has a taxi license, you have a record of who the driver/car was, and you were tracked by GPS. I agree about AirBnB though.

    1. AnonyMouish

      I posted something similar below — I think this can vary widely in huge cities as opposed to smaller areas.

      1. RG2

        Not in New York City! They’re also required to have licenses and taxi and limo commission registration. That’s also why NYC Uber and Lyft are so much more expensive than in other cities.

        1. Natalie

          They might do the branding slightly differently in NYC, but what your describing is UberBlack by definition. It was Uber’s original business model, the ridesharing arm (UberX) was added later and isn’t allowed everywhere.

          1. RG2

            I don’t know what to tell you, but I have the option here for both “UberX” and “UberBlack” and one is twice as expensive as the other. But UberX or UberPool will both get me a car with Taxi and Limousine Commission registered plates. I understand how UberX works in other cities (I’ve used it), but that’s not how it works here!

          2. WillyNilly

            Its not branding, its a city regulation. Its still regular Uber (folks using their personal cars to make money, etc), its just the city makes ’em spend a few hours in DMV getting a T&L license plate, and register as commercial drivers.

            NYC alsi has pretty extreme limits on what can legally be rented as an AirB&B – many of them in the city are actually operating illegally.

      2. Immy

        Not actually the case everywhere, here UberX basically has to be licensed as a taxi but I understand that isn’t the case everywhere

  46. Chris

    Interesting mix of comments. A lot of people seem unaware that there are plenty of Airbnb’s that are full house / condo rentals, that are professionally cleaned after / during the stay – it depends what’s available and what you’ve arranged. I know plenty of people that use Uber / Lyft / Airbnb’s and have never had any issues, although I’ve only used the services minimally myself.

    1. TiffIf

      The one and only time I have used AirBnb it was a studio apartment that I used for a few days on vacation. It had a private bathroom and a kitchen cooking area with fridge and microwave, sink and small stove. It was half the price of the hotels nearby (this was Long Beach) and was nicer than most hotels I have stayed at.

      It really depends on the individual property and host and area.

  47. Sandra

    In my city people who were staying in an AirBnb rental home almost died from carbon monoxide poisoning. There were no detectors in it and no law requiring it. Hotels on the other hand do have to have them and most do anyways even without the rules. That alone has put me off AirBnb forever.

    I don’t use ride sharing here either since it is not regulated. Taxis carry the proper insurance. There is no insurance for ride sharing here and most people use their own personal vehicles to drive for Uber or Lyft and they don’t have the right insurance. I will not risk it, if there is an accident I don’t want to end up with the headache of not having the protection of insurance.

    I totally agree with the OP here.

    1. Temperance

      I encourage you to research this further. In my city, the taxi lobby is ultra powerful, and as a result, cabs carry laughably low insurance. A woman at my company was hit by a cab while walking, and his low insurance ($10k liability) meant that she’s not only permanently disabled, she’s also destitute and living of off SSI now. She can’t work because of some jerk cabbie not driving right, and her life was ruined. So.

      1. Sandra

        I know this is the case in many cities, I do agree with you there. Where I live there are laws about how much insurance cabs must have, and it is much more than personal drivers in their own vehicles. On the other hand, Lyft and Uber are not regulated or allowed to operate here. Some do anyways but there is no option for the kind of insurance you need for ride-sharing. So if there is an accident or something you are one your own. YYMV, this is my experience where I live.

      2. LegalStaff

        You might mean the cab driver had a $10K PIP (personal injury protection) rider? If so, that’s the upper limit of what’s standard on most personal car insurance policies. An Uber/Lyft driver probably has less than that cab driver.

    2. Snark

      “Taxis carry the proper insurance.”

      They often carry incredibly low levels of coverage. Don’t ever count on this.

      “There is no insurance for ride sharing here and most people use their own personal vehicles to drive for Uber or Lyft and they don’t have the right insurance”

      This is flatly untrue. Lyft, at least, requires drivers to carry full liability and collision insurance.

      1. Sandra

        YMMV. Where I live taxis must have more coverage than anyone does for their personal vehicle. It is a condition of having a license for the taxi.

        There is no option for ride-sharing insurance where I am located. A driver may have personal insurance, but if they are carrying a passenger for payment that is not covered under the personal policy. There have been cases of companies refusing to cover here because a driver was working but did not have working/ride-sharing insurance (as it is not offered here).

        I realize this is not the case everywhere. I don’t claim it is. I’m speaking to my experience where I live only.

        1. Snark

          Lyft provides supplemental liability, uninsured motorist, contingent liability, and contingent comprehensive and collision insurance when the app is on, as does Uber as far as I know. That would cover it even if your personal insurance does not. And I know rideshare insurance is available from most American insurance companies.

          If ride sharing insurance is totally unavailable where you live, then I think your post needs a caveat that your area is very much an outlier.

          1. Wow

            I guess the part where Sandra said: “YMMV” and “I realize this is not the case everywhere. I don’t claim it is. I’m speaking to my experience where I live only.” was not her being clear. I mean when I read that I thought it was obvious she was speaking for all places everywhere. You are right, she should have been more clear than blantantly stating it in her post.

              1. Wow

                Right above where you wrote that she needed to put in a caveat. She clearly stated it more than once. Also, there are places outside of America. Just because that insurance is common in America does not mean that is the case everywhere.

    3. fposte

      I’m not an AirBnb user so I’m not pushing for them, but deaths from CO have happened in hotels, too–there was one in Michigan last year–and they’re not all required to have detectors.

      1. London Bookworm

        Yes, it seems one of the lessons in this thread is that it’s a mistake to think there’s any travel option where you can assume everything is perfectly well-regulated and safe. All of these carry some measure of risk and require research on the part of the traveller.

    4. Doctor What

      I drive for Lyft…part of the requirement to be a Lyft driver is to be properly insured. You literally have to provide proof of insurance. I have actually gone the extra step and purchased commercial insurance on my car.

      1. Sandra

        Where I am located, there is no option to purchase insurance for ride-sharing. I realize it is not the same everywhere of course. But here Uber or Lyft drivers pick up passengers with only their personal insurance, and not commerical or ride-sharing since they literally do not have the option to do so.

    5. Snark

      CO deaths happen in hotels, too. You, like OP, are taking a tiny, tiny number of adverse outcomes and blowing them up to a pervasive and imminent threat.

      1. TL -

        For me, a lot of the concern is what happens after. The risk of CO2 poisoning might be similar but generally there are stronger laws in place to protect/help me after something happens if it’s a hotel/taxi/regulated industry. It varies, of course, but that’s where my concerns come in.

    6. Natalie

      I think this brings up a good point with either taxis or ridesharing – it’s going to vary a lot place to place. Both taxis *and* ridesharing in my state are required to have a large insurance policy (Uber pitched a damn fit about it and claimed they’d leave, and then didn’t). But that’s going to be different everywhere, for both types of rides.

      Although in a business travel situation it’s also worth considering that you are likely covered by other things like workers comp and your employers policies.

  48. Roscoe

    I think its a bit out of touch, especially the Lyfts and Ubers. However, I do get the hotel vs Air BnB thing. While I definitely like using Air BnB for social trips, since I find it more fun to have one big house as opposed to 4 rooms down a hallway, I also look at business travel as a time where I want to be able to go to my own room to relax without co-workers. I guess it depends on how its presented though. If you have X amount of money to use on transportation, meals, etc while you are on a trip, I say definitely do what you want as long as you know that the Uber may very well cut down on what you want. However, don’t push others who aren’t as apprehensive to ride in a cab with you.

  49. C

    Also, if you have a disability, AirBnB places do not always meet your needs as well as a handicap accessible hotel room. While most people would recognize that someone in a wheelchair would have difficulty staying at an Airbnb that is only accessible with steps or doesn’t have appropriate grab bars/benches in the shower, there are a lot of invisible disabilities too.

    So, I would definitely push back on any written or unwritten policy as part of being an inclusive company.

    1. C

      Especially because some people may not have disclosed their disability if it does not effect their daily work.

      1. Nacho

        If you don’t disclose your disability, you can’t really blame your accommodation for not accommodating it, can you?

    2. Eh? Non Y. Mouse

      This.

      This is exactly the reason why I don’t use Airbnb. If I book an ADA compliant hotel room, I know generally what I’m getting in the bathroom for my safety even without photos, but those kinds of things are definitely not standard in most residences.

  50. Official Peon

    I use Uber/Lyft all the time- personal and business use. I was always uneasy about using taxis, but Uber/Lyft has been a pleasant experience. I felt like a taxi driver was taking me hostage while they drove up the price of the ride, while in Uber/Lyft the price is already negotiated before you step foot into the car.

    I’ve never used Airbnb, ever. I also don’t like Bed & Breakfasts. I’d rather take my chances on a hotel.

  51. Sarah

    I’m confused, you’d be willing to get into a taxi but not an Uber? I guess I just don’t see the safety difference — and if anything, I feel much safer in an Uber/Lyft because at least there is an electronic record of where I am going and who I am with. I will also say that in my personal experience, I’ve experienced much worse and more harassing behavior from cab drivers than Uber/Lyft drivers (no doubt because their jobs depend on getting high ratings, whereas as far as I can tell, cab drivers have zero accountability).

    As far as AirBnB, I’d say it really depends on the type you’re getting. I would also balk at being asked to use the type where you’re staying at someone’s home AND they are also there (i.e. just renting out a bedroom in an also-occupied home), simply because I want more privacy than that on a business trip. But there are also plenty where you’re renting out an entire apartment/condo/vacation house. I have a feeling if three coworkers are staying together at an AirBNB, it is probably the latter sort of setup, and honestly is probably not going to be a wildly different experience than any other sort of rental.

    Anyway, bottom line, I do think that in many workplaces you will seem pretty out of touch to push back on this sort of stuff. I think making the argument about regulation/treatment of workers/taxes/etc. that Mike C. makes above would actually be more appropriate, since it would be more of a “I have a legitimate moral objection to this business practice.” But I feel like making the argument that you think taking an Uber or staying in an AirBNB with other coworkers is somehow putting your life at risk seems pretty dramatic and over-the-top, especially since no doubt your other coworkers have done all of these things and lived to tell the tale. Yes, there are horror stories out there, but there are also people who get murdered in regular cabs/regular hotels/grocery stores/walking down the street, and I assume you don’t avoid all of life for this reason. If anything, the biggest danger of getting in an Uber is the danger anytime you are in a motor vehicle, that of getting into a car crash. So, try to put it all in perspective.

  52. turquoisecow

    I haven’t needed to use any of these for work.

    I’ve used Airbnb but only with my husband; depending on the location I might or may not be okay using one on my own. The ones we’ve used together (on vacation) were quite nice, and the homeowners had multiple (at least dozens) of very positive reviews. My husband’s boss doesn’t mind if his employees stay in hotels when they travel, but he has a tendency to cheap out on himself, and stay in a small Airbnb with 6 other strangers to save money.

    I’ve taken Uber by myself a number of times. For medical reasons, I wasn’t allowed to drive for six months, and the bus service around here is pretty limited, so it was either take an Uber or not leave the house for days (until my husband came home in the evening, anyway) as it also happened to be winter, and I wasn’t walking any long distances. I’ve also taken it in New York City, because it was easier, cheaper, and faster than taking a cab or a subway. The first few times, I was mildly terrified. I’m a woman in my mid-thirties, for context, and I have mild social anxiety about being around strangers in strange places. I also have an overactive imagination that imagines the worst possible scenario, so I had to kind of talk myself into it a few times. That said, I live in and was traveling to fairly safe suburban areas (or fairly safe areas of NYC). I might be slightly more nervous in a less safe area, but I’d also feel unsafe riding in a regular cab, taking the bus, or walking.

    Keep in mind – for each horror story you may hear, there are literally millions of people using the service without incident. Millions. Ubers &etc are almost more common in NYC than yellow cabs, and for good reason. If you wouldn’t be afraid getting into a traditional taxi, there’s no reason to be more afraid of a ride share app.

  53. Anonymous Poster

    I’ve worked as a federal contractor and in a very large company. Neither one bats an eye at us renting cars and staying in decent hotels while traveling. They would get a lot of push back if employees requested to use Uber or Airbnb, because they don’t want the liability issue and they have agreements with hotel and car rental chains that allow for reduced business rate use.

    To be fair, the places I tend to have to travel wouldn’t have a taxi service available where I need it. I think Uber is around, but they’re sprawling places without a mass transit system that you would find in, say, Washington DC or Chicago, so a rental car is likelier just cheaper than Ubering around. And, sometimes I have to access a location that an Uber driver simply wouldn’t be allowed to go for any number of reasons.

    I’d say that this is very industry specific, but I would be a bit weirded out by a company requiring Airbnb and Uber. I’m a man in his 30s, so for me it’s not a safety issue generally, but more of a, they expect me to work hard while I’m traveling, and being in some random person’s home and car is not conducive to me being productive and getting the rest I need.

    1. eplawyer

      Uber and Lyft are thriving in DC because our mass transit system is a dumpster fire. During the daily breakdown you can leave the station and see ALLLLLLLL the Uber Lyft drivers just waiting to pick up the stranded commuters.

    2. CAA

      I’ve also worked for a federal contractor that didn’t bat an eye at our expense reports when we used Uber or Lyft to get around in DC or Alexandria, so YMMV with the contractor thing. The reason it doesn’t bother them is the government has no problem reimbursing travel on Uber or Lyft. They also have no problem reimbursing rental cars when we need them, but it’s really super inconvenient to deal with a rental car in DC, so I don’t know any colleagues who get one if they have to go into the district.

      AirBnB is another story though. I suppose the government would reimburse up to the GSA’s per diem lodging rate as long as you can produce a receipt; but I don’t know if you can really find whole home AirBnB rentals that are cheaper than those rates in most cities and I wouldn’t stay in a room in someone else’s home. Also, there’s the problem of figuring out how to get a key when arriving at night after traveling all day and possibly having delayed flights. Then if you haven’t had dinner along the way you can’t just go downstairs to the restaurant; you have to go out to find food. And what if you get there and something in the arrangements has gone wrong? At least with a hotel, if they are unexpectedly full or have had a water main break or whatever, they will “walk” you to another property.

  54. Laura P

    I recently had to travel for 2 weeks in a new job, with colleagues I’d only met 6 days previously. I was the only woman and my 3 colleagues were all men. I was pretty horrified to discover we were booked into an airbnb (whole house, owner not resident). Not to besmirch my new colleagues but these were people I’d known for 6 days, and I had to share a house with them? No locks on doors?!

    I managed two nights and ended up telling my employers that I would expense a hotel for myself, or I’d quit. They let me book a hotel. *If* the airbnb had been one with locks on the doors, TVs in rooms etc then I might have been OK with it.

    But you know what an airbnb with locks on doors and TVs in rooms is? A hotel!

    1. TiffIf

      But you know what an airbnb with locks on doors and TVs in rooms is? A hotel!

      Except generally less expensive than a hotel.

      Airbnb is totally dependent on the specific property, the host and the area. I got a studio apartment–with locks and a TV and a kitchen–for less than half the price of a traditional hotel and no sacrifices for safety.

      1. Laura P

        Yes of course, but I was given no choice! If it had been a studio flat to myself with a lock on the door and a TV in the room then fine. But it wasn’t!

        1. Laura P

          Also 4 airbnb studio apartments for 4 colleagues travelling together isn’t going to be cheaper than 4 hotel rooms, I reckon. But I might be wrong.

    2. Rock Room

      I wouldn’t want to have to share a home even if I knew the colleagues well and liked them. I need down time, especially when traveling for work. In a shared home, I’d feel like there was pressure to socialize.

      Also, I have no desire to share a bathroom with colleagues, especially those I barely know.

      1. Laura P

        Same here, in all honesty. I wasn’t told before I accepted the trip that it would be an airbnb and I was really nervous before I went (I almost quit the job before the trip).

        I am not a huge fan of airbnb anyhow in it current incarnation, i.e. whole homes being bought and rented out exclusively on airbnb (which this one was). I am much more a fan of the original idea, that people rent out rooms in their homes. So I was super uncomfortable with the whole trip. Luckily my employer agreed to me moving to a hotel and I didn’t have to quit!

  55. Doctor What

    I’m a Lyft driver in a major city in the US. I can’t speak for Uber, but I did go through a background check, among other screenings (and that varies per city). You’ll notice that the “horror” stories are about Uber, not Lyft.

    As for being scared to get in a stranger’s car…I get pretty nervous when I go to put up a ride, and the only info I have on their account is a nickname.

    1. London Bookworm

      Yes, I realize that anecdote is not the plural of data, but I’ve met more drivers who’ve been harassed than passengers.

      And the one Lyft driver I had who said creepy things to me? I reported him to Lyft immediately; they make it really easy to do. Whereas a scary cab-driver my friend had once, she was too distracted and distressed to get his license number and had no way to report him after the incident.

  56. Heather

    I prefer using Lyft over Uber, and prefer these over cabs/car rentals when I know they’ll be readily available when I’m traveling. I don’t have to worry about parking or too much to drink. I think they’re just as safe, if not safer, than traditional cabs. I also find the convenience of paying HUGE (I never have cash).

    As for AirBnB, I’ve done it once and it was an okay experience. However, for business travel, unless it was an extremely long (think weeks) stay, where I would want to cook for myself, I would always do a hotel. And even if it was a matter of weeks, you can find chains like HomeStay Suites that have a kitchenette for cooking. Sometimes you don’t know the area well enough to pick a good part of town. The wifi can be sketchy. I want to know I can watch TV, instead of just having a sketchy antenne and Netflix hookup. I also like having the cleaning services, in room (complimentary) coffee, and I always choose a hotel with complimentary breakfast. Ideally a bar too :)

  57. HNY

    I’m in my mid 30s and have done the traditional route as well as the alternatives. I also work for a non-profit so saving money is always a plus. Our policy though was do what you feel is safe. I rented a room several times on work trips through Airbnb, which was fine but it was nice to come back to my own space especially when traveling. If I travel somewhere that’s kind of remote or public transit isn’t reliable, I’ll almost always rent a car rather than use taxis/Uber/Lyft. We also had the option with staying with friends or family and the company allocated a gift amount that we could give to our host.

  58. De Minimis

    I say no, you’re not out of touch. I work for a non-profit that has a lot of travel and are generally pretty forward-thinking [Lyft and Uber are used way more than traditional taxis]—but we don’t use Airbnb. It seems like it would not be reliable enough for business travel–what if something fell through or if the place wasn’t as advertised? With a traditional hotel you generally know what you’re getting into, especially if you go to the cities frequently.

  59. AnonyMouish

    I think this is highly regional — where I live, taxis may be licensed but are often sub-contracted and sub-sub-contracted, and there’s no guarantee that the person driving the taxi is the person who’s actually licensed to do so. By contrast, Uber has a picture and a license plate of the person you’re riding with, which makes them easier to identify.

    But where AirBnB is concerned, I agree with you. When you are travelling for business, you need every opportunity to focus on your work, and so having the extra comforts of a hotel is an understood exchange for the inconvenience of being away.

  60. dr_silverware

    I think that you’re right to be weirded out by the Airbnb and not quite as right to be weirded out by the Uber/Lyft. Despite the recent news stories, taxi drivers are less vetted than you think and rideshare drivers are more vetted than you think, and the risk of riding in an Uber is not so high. Many, many rideshare drivers do it for a living, just like taxi drivers.

    That said, I also think that by using these apps for business travel, companies are really kind of nickel-and-diming their employees, and exploiting employees’ privacy and ethics for the sake of that nickel-and-diming. In terms of privacy, one, these apps collect an enormous amount of personal data, and if you haven’t already made the choice you don’t mind, your company shouldn’t make you hand that over; two, Airbnb locations are held by private owners who may have security systems and no neutral professionals to watch the feeds.

    And ethically I think it is scummy for businesses to pay into these exploitative systems for the sake of a bit of travel money. I know this is my idealism talking. But these “””disruptive””” businesses are notoriously poisonous to workers (in Uber’s case) and real estate prices (in Airbnb’s case) and to the tax revenue of cities and states (in both cases).

    So in the end: I don’t think you’re out of touch. I think it’s strange.

  61. Say what, now?

    I read about some AirBnB issues with owners placing hidden camera around the rental, whether to try and get explicit pictures or to have evidence in case of damage is really neither here nor there. It’s a terrible violation of privacy. But even more disturbing is AirBnB’s reluctance to go after these hosts. Often times taking months to remove them, if they even remove them at all.

  62. Lynca

    Where I work we can’t expense Uber/Lyft/AirBnB. In the same regards we don’t expense cab fare. In those situations you are expected to expense parking or a rental as necessary. I’m not in private sector so that has a lot to do with the rules. I wouldn’t personally use them anyway (I’m early 30’s).

  63. Helpful

    There’s something to be said for liability and accountability, as well— if something does go wrong (a fire, an attack, whatever) and I’m at a hotel, they have insurance and a high priority to help me. An Airbnb? Not as much. Same with a taxi company in the case of a car accident or in regards to driver vetting. It’s unlikely to occur, sure; but sometimes problems come up and I like the idea of knowing where to send my requests for help.

  64. Temperance

    I encourage you to research this further. In my city, the taxi lobby is ultra powerful, and as a result, cabs carry laughably low insurance. A woman at my company was hit by a cab while walking, and his low insurance ($10k liability) meant that she’s not only permanently disabled, she’s also destitute and living of off SSI now. She can’t work because of some jerk cabbie not driving right, and her life was ruined. So.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      The taxi company in my city is terrible. I used to take taxis fairly regularly and became friendly with a few drivers. They were also independent contractors (like Uber/Lyft), but they had to pay to rent their cab on a weekly basis. They also got no benefits. I’m sure it’s not like that everywhere, but I think that’s worse. At least if you’re driving with Uber/Lyft, the money you’re paying is going towards your own vehicle.

  65. Sara

    I do think you’re putting too much stock in cab driver qualifications. As someone who has booked cabs and ubers (or Lyfts) for clients, I find that Uber/Lyft are just easier to deal with in the long run. I also find that the drivers of each are equally good and bad. Just because they’re paid for a medallion doesn’t mean their background is inheritance better than the Uber driver. They both have to go through background checks! Ride share apps at least track you and tell you the name and pic of the person/

  66. Hanners

    For shorter trips business I’ve always stayed in hotels due to corporate travel policy and practice. I don’t mind them for short stays, but I recently relocated for work and was without a permanent house for 18 days. In that case I opted to stay in a basement apartment that I found on Airbnb. I wanted somewhere that had a full kitchen and living room with a separate bedroom so that I could feel a little more at home in my new city. It was a bit strange at first, but the family that owned the house was really friendly and gave me my space. One concern that I would have about staying at an Airbnb vs hotel for travel is that it takes a while to adjust to living in someone’s room/apartment because each one is unique. Hotels are much easier to adjust to because they are all basically the same (bed, TV, bathroom).

  67. Elizabeth H.

    It probably depends on the company, but I do find it a bit out of touch to be surprised at the idea of using Uber, Lyft or AirBnB on a work trip. I do agree with others that AirBnB is a bit less “standard” than Uber or Lyft because the policies can be quite different from a hotel, they are more involved to seek out and book, you need an AirBnB account, and the gestalt is (often) less formal overall. But among my peers as well as older people, AirBnB is kind of the default first step when you’re looking for someplace to stay on vacation. (Unfortunately for me – I actually really like hotels and am incredibly picky about the spaces I stay in, just generally speaking, so I’m not a huge fan of AirBnB for travel/vacation, but I can see the advantages and why a lot of people like them.) Personally, I have some ethical issues with some of these types of services and I can certainly understand that as a reason to be uncomfortable using them. But my first reaction is that I find the idea of rejecting Uber or Lyft due to safety concerns surprising. And using any of these services on a business trip doesn’t read to me as “unprofessional,” at all.

  68. Anon21

    I don’t want to invalidate the LW’s concerns. But I do think Uber/Lyft are considered by some news orgs to be inherently “newsy” in a way that traditional cabs aren’t, and when you combine that with the hoary old principle of If It Bleeds, It Leads, I think it’s easy to come away with an inaccurate picture of the danger involved in using a rideshare app. I am skeptical that taking an Uber is more of a risk than taking a yellow cab, and both are probably extremely low risk if your specific concern is being assaulted by a driver.

  69. It'sOnlyMe

    I totally understand your concern, a lot of this depends on location for me. I have been asked to get a taxi from the airport to my work location which includes a rural secluded drive which can take up to an hour, I am really not comfortable in that situation and will either hire a car or get a bus. A quick taxi ride across a busy city, I am comfortable with that.

    I attended a fantastic lone worker’s training session many years ago (with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust https://www.suzylamplugh.org/Pages/Category/what-we-do) and some of the travel tips have stayed with me. Always trust your instinct. Only stay in a room with an interior bolt or chain lock, never stay on the ground floor, always check your exits and windows, try not to have a room next to the staircase, let someone know where you are. I wish all organisations offered safety training or lone worker training as a matter of course.

    1. fposte

      I had no idea that there even was such a trust (I’m in the U.S.); what a great response to a tragedy.

  70. Q

    No, no, no, not an overreaction. I wouldn’t do this, either. I would probably consider paying for it out of my own pocket to avoid an Uber, Lyft, or AirBnB. I’m a young woman-appearing-person who is very small. I do not feel safe doing these things at all, and frankly, I have trust issues with people who don’t understand why I might be concerned by them and push me to use them anyway.

    1. Q

      (I’m also not really a fan of the fact that uber, at minimum is losing money in an attempt to kill the much more regulated taxi industry, just because it’s cheaper (for now)).

      1. Snark

        I’m okay with that, honestly. The taxi industry can fight for its own business model, and they need no defense from me. It’s not more regulated, because the taxi lobby is generally very effective at reducing costly obligations.

        I’d challenge your assumption that ride-sharing is any less safe, but you’ve preemptively invalidated that, so.

        1. Q

          A younger AFAB person with little means to defend themselves physically doesn’t want to get in a strange man’s personal vehicle, and that’s a problem for you.

          I’m not making you stop taking one.

          1. Snark

            It’s certainly not a problem for me, and I may be safely and totally discounted. I just don’t think it’s an accurate assessment.

            1. RedSonja

              Snark, you’re usually better than this. Why aren’t you willing to accept Q’s risk assessment of their own situation? Particularly since those of us who grow up being identified as women are CONSTANTLY warned against strangers, particularly talking to, getting in cars with, or consuming any food or beverage with them. We are told and shown constantly that if anything happens to us in any of those contexts, it is our fault and we deserved it.

              So yeah. A lot of us are probably FAR more leery of getting into a stranger’s personal vehicle than you are. And it’s really not helpful to be told that we’re overreacting.

              1. Q

                Snark is everywhere in these comments complaining about the taxi industry. Seems to be a very specific ax to grind about taxis.

                1. Snark

                  I’ve had a number of absolutely awful experiences with taxis, including being driven on circuitous routes to run up the meter, unmaintained and filthy cabs, unpleasant drivers, drivers so reckless and unskilled that I was honestly bracing for impact, and on one memorable ocassion abroad getting driven to a secluded location and robbed….so yeah, I have a very, very negative opinion of the taxi industry and how it’s run and regulated.

              2. Snark

                That’s certianly not my intent, and I apologize totally and without reservation if that’s how it was taken! I don’t mean to devalue or question the fear/risk assessment itself at all.

                What I was attempting to articulate was that out of the universe of possible non-personal transit options – mass transit, taxis, rideshare, shuttle buses – a rideshare is probably the lowest risk, because of the various features like location tracking, driver ratings, the fact that you’re shown the driver and their rating before you get in the car, and the fact that you can share that with social media. I understand that it’s still getting into a stranger’s vehicle, but it strikes me as the least bad option, given that you have no blessed clue who’s going to pick you up in that taxi, for example.

                1. Q

                  You apologized, and then went on another long ramble doing the same thing you just apologized for.

                  You risk assessment is not the same as mine because we have different risk factors.

              3. Risk manager

                “Why aren’t you willing to accept Q’s risk assessment of their own situation?”

                FWIW, there is quite a bit of data showing that human overestimate trivial risks and underestimate real ones.

              4. Detective Amy Santiago

                Snark isn’t the only one in this comments section who is pointing out that there are inherent safety features built into Uber/Lyft that don’t exist with most taxi services and a lot of us (myself, Temperance, Stephanie) are also women.

                Q’s experiences are not universal. I personally feel much safer getting into a vehicle when I have the driver’s information and my trip is being tracked by GPS than I do getting into a random taxi cab.

              5. TL -

                Women are indeed constantly warned, though they are at no more risk – indeed are at less risk then men are – of being the victim of violent crime by strangers.

                There’s a whole lot of social programming designed to keep women from striking out on their own but a striking lack of evidence supporting that (in the USA. Other countries may vary.)

          2. Plague of frogs

            I totally get why you would be concerned about getting into a vehicle with a strange man. It scares me too, especially when I’m in a foreign country. But riding a cab doesn’t really get rid of that concern. Or even a bus, for that matter. I’m still completely at the mercy of someone who is almost always bigger and stronger than I am.

          3. Observer

            That’s not what anyone is saying. They are saying that Uber / Lyft are no different in that respect than a traditional taxi / cab. Now, if you are saying that you won’t get into a taxi either, that’s different. But please don’t claim that only Uber / Lyft requires you to “get into a strange man’s personal vehicle”. Many car services do, in fact, have their drivers use their own vehicles. And there is nothing more safe about using a personal vehicle vs a company owned vehicle that is being driven by an individual guy.

  71. Higher Ed Database Dork

    Re: your mom picking you up – I see no issue with that at all. She’s a person you know in the area who was able to pick you up. I’ve been on tons of business trips with people who have friends, relatives, parents, etc pick them up from the airport because they were nearby. And typically people like to catch up with their friends and family if they are visiting their city and have dinner or something like that, so I don’t see how getting a ride from your mom is any different than having dinner with your mom one night because she lives nearby. So don’t sweat that part!

    1. Rock Room

      Agreed. I sometimes travel for business to an area where my family lives. If I extend my trip so that I can stay with them, they will drive me to the airport as I’m leaving. No one thinks it’s unprofessional; it just makes sense.

  72. Nathan Maharaj

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want to stay in a hotel and use licensed taxis for business travel.

    That said, depending on the city and whether you’re able to roll your luggage onto a subway or tram, you may have an opportunity to be the cost-savings hero by using public transit to get to/from the airport. I do this for all business travel now. I just prefer to be by myself on transit than folded into the back of a cab, possibly engaged in a stilted conversation with a cabbie, and the additional walking involved in taking transit can be just what I need after a flight.

    Depending on lines at taxi stands and Uber/Lyft wait times, it can be nearly as fast as taking a cab. Self-serve transit kiosks are never the height of tech, but I can usually figure out pretty quick how to buy a 3-day pass or load a card with a reasonable number of fares. And with apps like Transit or Google Maps, I have all the routing information I need to get where I’m going in most major cities.

  73. Sarianna

    Early 30s, AFAB, about 50 miles out from a major city but I go there at least weekly, and travel abroad a couple times a year. Have never used an Uber/Lyft/similar and wouldn’t unless it were a dire emergency. Did stay in an AirBnB with a friend last fall when we went to our mutual friend’s wedding, as I wouldn’t have been able to afford to go otherwise, and was super sketched out by both the actual home and by the neighbor who basically threatened us with the police for the terrible crime of renting an AirBnB room. (note: I don’t like their business model, but made an exception for this case to attend the wedding and meet some longtime internet friends for the first time.) He did scare me, even if he was being kind of unreasonable, and if my friend weren’t there I would’ve literally gotten back in the car to GTFO. Never again.

  74. DouDou Paille

    As someone who is an Uber driver part-time, I have to disagree with the LW’s opinion that drivers are “minimally vetted.” I had to undergo a criminal background check, drivers license check, and vehicle inspection (the latter yearly). As a rider, I find that Uber drivers are much more polite and the vehicles cleaner than my city’s yellow cabs, not to mention half the price. As for AirBnb, I find that they are cheaper and larger, and have more amenities than your average hotel room. If you feel weird about staying in “someone else’s house,” get a unit that is freestanding and used for rentals only, as opposed to a room in the same living space as the owner. It is pretty easy to figure this out from the listing. If not, just send an inquiry to the owner.

  75. 2ManyBugs

    I’m going to chime in from the other side here – I’m in one of the industries where using AirBnB for business travel is very, very normal. In fact, my last FOUR business trips were booked into AirBnBs. There’s never been any issue (it’s not as much of a ‘gamble’ as it seems!). My companies pick places with good ratings, professional cleaners, whole-house/apartment units, and the keys/locks are programmable to be changed for every booking. I prefer them highly over hotels – less strangers around, easier to get space, etc.

    I understand that this is *not* normal in most industries. But if you’re in one like mine, then yes, you’re going to come off as out of touch and even difficult to work with if you push back on this.

  76. Rose

    Woman, late 20s, working for a large company in Europe: I have very strong rules about when I am and am not willing to use an AirBnB for personal travel, and I would be extremely upset if my company tried to force me to use an AirBnB in a situation that violated one of those rules. (If, for example, I was traveling alone in a country where I didn’t speak a local language and didn’t have a working mobile phone.) This is a hypothetical, though — it’s such a hassle at my company to count an AirBnB as a business expense that none of us ever bother. In fact, staying at an AirBnB but paying for it ourselves (if we’re extending a trip for personal travel, say, or if we’ve just given up trying to deal with finance) is a violation of our employee insurance coverage for the entire trip. I’m surprised other companies don’t have similar objections.

    As for Uber/Lyft, eh? I could understand it on some sort of principled grounds (regulated taxis are more expensive, but their workers are often treated much better), but those principles can go both ways (my friends of colour, especially those who wear hijab, have a lot of trouble hailing traditional taxis). If you have some sort of concrete safety concerns — published studies, government-issued statistics, that sort of thing — then definitely argue back with your company, but otherwise my vote here is a shrug.

  77. Coffeelover

    Am I the only one who hates airbnb? First of all, I think it’s bad from the home owners perspective because it provides little protection for damaged property. As a renter thougj, I’ve never been able to find a great deal on airbnb. They’re usually comparable in price to hotels for shorter stays, but with way less convenience. You usually have to coordinate with someone which means arriving at a “normal” time, getting canceled, back and forth emails, etc. You have a questionable avenue of complaint should something come up. And you don’t know what you’ll get or how clean it’ll be. Also it’s just kind of awkward sometimes. I’d rather stay in a budget hotel than an airbnb any day.

    And as for OPs question… I do think it’s unprofessional to ask your employees to use airbnb. You’re a business and you should front the full cost of trips. Find some other way to save money.

    1. OlympiasEpiriot

      Yeah, AirBNB just requires too much energy out of me for exactly what you describe.

      I want a hotel with someone at the front desk and a straightforward reservation system and some sort of chain-of-command I can work my way through if there is a problem.

      I’ll stay at a real BnB, like how they work out in countries that have a history of doing that (not really the US, it is relatively recent here and generally sort of luxurious), but, generally not for business there, either, unless I’m on a long assignment and have found it after staying in a hotel for a while to get adjusted to the area.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      I’m not a fan either. I’ve only used them for work travel, and that was because I worked for a “cool” company that wanted to be “cool”. I also used to live in a building where people would rent out their apartments to random strangers, and it felt increasingly uncomfortable. I recently rented a vacation home and I went through a realty company; I probably paid way more than I would have with AirBnB or VRBO, but I felt much more comfortable and had resources and backups in case something went wrong.

    3. Natalie

      No, I totally agree. The only time I’ve found Airbnb worth it is traveling to a very expensive destination (Paris) with someone I wasn’t going to share a bed with. The Airbnb was cheaper than 2 hotel rooms and in a more fun area. But basically every other time, the cheap little apartments are no cheaper than a hotel, and the nice houses or apartments are way out of my price range.

    4. Ann O'Nemity

      I have the same concerns about Airbnb. But I also don’t like most traditional B&Bs either! Give me the amenities, convenience, security, and anonymity of a well-known hotel.

    5. Stephanie

      No, not a huge fan. It only seems really worth it if you’re staying somewhere for a long time or are going somewhere super expensive like Paris.

      It has to be significantly cheaper for me to want to deal with the hassle and give up the consumer protection.

      I also don’t feel like cleaning a kitchen while I’m on vacation.

      But back to the original question, I would definitely raise an eyebrow at a company trying to save what’s a relatively small amount (in regard to business travel).

  78. amysee

    Having been prevented from staying in an Airbnb by the owner of the apartment building (the renter was letting his unit on Airbnb despite a clause in his lease prohibiting it; Airbnb was honestly great about it and helped us get another booking for no extra cost), and having friends who have arrived at their Airbnb rentals to find them filthy, I don’t use it for personal travel anymore I would definitely refuse to use the service for work! Too risky.

  79. Marie

    We use AirBnBs a lot in my job, though it’s emoloyee choice. We travel in rural areas, so it’s usually the local budget motel or an AirBnB, and in those circumstances the AirBnB is usually the nicer stay — it’s actually been a godsend, since the motels were pretty gross and/or two towns over from where we needed to be. A lot of our work also involves raising awareness of our cause, and is highly relational. So having the opportunity to have coffee with whoever runs the AirBnB, talk about our work, and leave a generally good impression and our card is very helpful — word travels fast in a small town, and I’ve found the AirBnB hosts in a very small area also tend to be, well, huge gossips. So we get a better lay of the land talking to them, and if they go out gossiping about us and our great cause and how polite we were, it’s going to be helpful next time we roll into town, or the next time somebody is thinking about the service we offer and their neighbor’s cousin’s wife has our card. It’s tiring, though, because it means you’re always “on” — the motels are good for just watching bad TV and talking to nobody.

  80. Jam Today

    I have used Air BnB for personal travel a couple of times with very good outcomes, but I consider that a personal calculated risk I’m willing to take on, with some amount of work I do to review the apartments, the hosts, and the neighborhoods. I set my own risk tolerance there; I would absolutely not do that for a work event for a variety of reasons, not the least being that since AirBnB is subject to the personal whim of the host availability of secure, well-reviewed apartments is not necessarily going to adhere to my schedule.

    [Furthermore, even with a personal use of AirBnB I’m more tuned into people’s complaints of it ruining neighborhoods by a) removing housing stock from the housing market, and b) removing people from the neighborhood (i.e. residents) who would otherwise have a vested interest in shopping at local businesses, looking out for the welfare of their neighbors, and generally participating in civic life, so that’s one more consideration when deciding to use it.]

  81. Spcepickle

    I convinced my company to let me use airbnb instead of a hotel. If I am traveling for much more than 1 or 2 nights I love the extra space and kitchen. I do only get the places were I have the whole place, I am not renting a room. I have used airbnb all over the world and never had a bad experience. There is no way I would rent out my house, but renting through them is great.

  82. Ann Furthermore

    For the longest time I didn’t want to use Uber or Lyft because it seemed like doing everything your mother told you to never do — get into a strange car with a strange person. Then I realized that you do the same thing when you get into a taxi; the only difference is that the car is yellow. Plus I think it’s way easier to get an Uber or a Lyft, and it’s way cheaper too.

    In October I went to a trade show in San Francisco, which is notoriously expensive. My company didn’t get around to registering until the last minute, so hotel rooms were even more expensive. Someone suggested an Airbnb, which I’d never done for business travel. The link we were all looking at was a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom place close-ish to the Moscone Center. It was a little weird, but literally a fraction of what a hotel would have been, so OK, fine. Then my co-worker who made the reservation forwarded the confirmation to my co-worker and me after he booked it, and it was 3 bedrooms and one bathroom. ONE BATHROOM.

    I forwarded it to my boss and told her that I get booking an Airbnb to help save money on lodging, especially in expensive cities, but sharing a bathroom was asking too much. I played it off as me being weird about personal space and boundaries. She replied saying, “This is f-ing creepy,” (LOL) and the next thing I knew one of the marketing people had booked a hotel room for me in what turned out to be a cool, weird, funky boutique hotel that was way cheaper than the bigger places.

    At the trade show, the guy who booked the Airbnb gave me a little crap and asked why I got to stay in a hotel, and I said, “Hey, all I did was ask if I really had to share a bathroom with people I’m not related to.”

  83. former Chicagoan

    I’m a woman in my early 40s, and am on board with the many others who think it’s acceptable to insist on a hotel but would be out of touch/odd to refuse using Uber/Lyft; I also agree that any idea that a taxi is “safer” is a false presumption and not based on any actual facts or statistics. I wonder if this comfort level has anything to do with people’s experience in big cities — I live in small city now, but am from Chicago, where Uber is so much the norm I would have difficulty believing anyone from there could have possibly written the OP’s letter.
    As for airbnb, I’ve always had good experiences, and have found the reviews to be a good basis on choosing where to stay, but I understand why someone would prefer hotel for business travel — there’s actually a greater variation in the experience; it’s not simply about a car ride.

  84. KC without the sunshine band

    I travel to the same cities repeatedly and have Uber drivers’ numbers in my phone. I let them know when I’m coming and use the same driver every time I’m in that town. It’s like having a private car service with your favorite driver.
    There’s a comfort to that. I have never tried Airbnb.

  85. boop the first

    Principal Seymour Skinner: “No one’s at the theatre either… am I so out of touch?? No. It’s the children who are wrong.”

    Those darn millennial with their tiny video phones and their newfangled cost-reducing conveniences!

    1. boop the first

      Seriously though, Airbnb is kind of inconsiderate to neighbours in apartment buildings, because then you have strangers coming in and out at all hours, with who knows how many copies of keys… so as far as safety is concerned, those who are staying there should be the LEAST worried in that situation. Plus, keeping apartments empty for tourists is a selfishly capitalist thing to do in cities (like vancouver) that are literally emptying out because there’s no where to actually live the rest of the time. So Airbnb isn’t grreeaaattt, but like I said, the person who is renting the room/apartment has the least to lose in this situation.

  86. caryatis

    I promise you, for every horror story about an Uber, there is one about a cab. You just have to accept that some risks are part of life. So if you’re going to insist on the no-Ubers policy, be prepared to swallow the price difference yourself, as this is just a personal idiosyncrasy on your part.

    1. Anna Held

      Is having to have a smart phone and downloading the app — which we know they’ve misused to track people — also a personal idiosyncrasy? Just because it works for you doesn’t mean everyone has to embrace it.

  87. RedSonja

    I won’t use Uber or Lyft, but less because of safety and more because the way they treat their employees is horrendous, and I won’t be a party to that. Here in SF I use Flywheel and have been able to pay with the app and gotten prompt service from a cab, so I don’t feel any need to change.

    I’ve only stayed in an Airbnb once, but that was in Edinburgh and shared with 3 other coworkers. Also, in this case, our trip was only going to partially covered at best, so frugality was important (yay academia!). It was fine, except for the toilet seat coming off in the middle of the night and the offender not fixing it, so jet-lagged me fell in at 2:30 AM. It was nice to have a kitchen and fridge, but I really missed the privacy of a hotel room.

  88. Higher Ed Database Dork

    Forgot to add – I will pretty much always choose a hotel over an AirBnB simply because I want my own private room with as little contact with other people as possible. I stayed at a bed & breakfast a few years ago with my boss and a coworker – three bedrooms, we were the only ones there but I hated it. It was a very lovely b & b and would have been fine for a vacation, but I found there to be too much “togetherness” with my colleagues at the end of the day. I get really exhausted during conferences and like to hole up in the evenings.

    I hate all paid transportation. I hate using taxies, shuttles, Uber, whatever…I just don’t feel safe in anything. I try to plan it so I can ride with a colleague. I’d rather walk a few blocks or use public transportation. I think the issue with the other forms is that I feel trapped in the vehicle.

  89. Observer

    One thing that is important to note. Unless you are using medallion taxis, a regular car service is no safer than Uber of Lyft. Even when they are technically required to have the same betting as the medallions, lots of companies are less than meticulous about that.

  90. C.

    My organization doesn’t allow Airbnb for business travel, actually – it’s for insurance reasons and that they don’t feel like they can guarantee staff member safety in such an unregulated industry. You might want to gently encourage or suggest yours look into that as well, if you feel comfortable doing so and if you think your organization might be moved by a risk management rationale.

  91. clow

    yeah, no way would i use an uber alone. I’m not getting into a stranger’s car, it’s like the number one thing my parent’s taught me as a child. I mean, if someone feels comfortable, hey that’s fine people use it all the time without trouble, but its not for me. Air bnb..in kinda meh, i’ve used it twice (with a group for vacations), but i just keep wondering about hidden cameras and I dont think i would do it again. I don’t think its being out of touch, its about not giving up feeling safe and secure just for the sake of cost and convenience. Again, not saying there is anything wrong with these things, but for many people, it doesnt feel safe and they shouldnt force it upon you.

    1. clow

      of course, i refuse to get into taxis alone too, i’d rather rent a car but maybe im just paranoid.

      1. Anon for this

        You realize that refusing to use a cab or Uber/Lyft alone requires a considerable amount of privilege, right? I can’t imagine being in a scenario where I always have access to private transportation or a travel partner to get from point A to point B or can rely entirely on public transportation without limiting my day-to-day activities.

        Imagine being a head of household who has neither a driver’s license nor other adults around to drive or escort them to places. I’m sure this is difficult for some people to imagine, but it happens.

        1. Natalie

          Is there some particular reason clow needs this lecture? They’re clearly just relaying their own experience and opinion and said *multiple times* that they weren’t making statements about other people’s use of ridesharing.

          1. Anon for this

            Oh, I know clow’s free to do as they wish, but sometimes people who are able to take that sort of approach don’t realize how their choices may be inconvenient, if not impossible for many other people. For many others, it has nothing to do with their feeling of safety because they don’t really have a lot of reasonable options.

            1. Natalie

              That’s not what I asked. This entire thread is people sharing their personal experiences and their personal decisions to take or not take ridesharing apps. None of them have put a “my privilege” disclaimer at the bottom, but for some reason you’ve decided one person needed to be scolded about that. This seems akin to the “not everyone can eat sandwiches” guideline for commenting.

        2. Question

          “You realize that refusing to use a cab or Uber/Lyft alone requires a considerable amount of privilege, right?”

          So what?

        3. Plague of frogs

          Having the option to use a cab and/or Uber/Lyft is a pretty hefty serving of privilege, so this whole discussion comes with an assumption of privilege.

  92. Mimmy

    I prefer Uber over taxis because Ubers are generally quicker and the cars are nicer. It’s a little less expensive too, especially if you do UberPool (which I’ve never done).

    I’ve never done AirBnB and I’m a little leery with the concept, especially if I were by myself. I’m sure some are perfectly fine (my husband’s nephew provides the service, but they have a whole floor that is separate from the main house), but as others have said, it really is luck of the draw. Having my personal space is very important to me, and I don’t like the idea of strangers being around me.

  93. Meercat

    I am an Airbnb Superhost (meaning you have to adhere to a number of standards set forth by Airbnb in regards to your reviews, responsiveness, etc.), and I see a number of business travelers come through (many of whom are female travelers alone), so from my perspective it’s not exactly uncommon. For reference, our Airbnb is a very no-frills basement bedroom for $30/night, but it’s still (from what I hear) nicer, cleaner, and cheaper than any neighboring hotels. Airbnb gets a bad rep, but from both a hosting and guest experience, I have no complaints. You do have to carefully vet where you’re staying.

    I think it’s perfectly reasonable to want to stay in a hotel for business travel instead of an Airbnb, but know that there are a number of filters you can use on Airbnb when booking that can help from a safety/cleanliness standard standpoint. First, stay only with Superhosts. Superhosts have to have 80% or higher of their reviews be 5 stars. Read the reviews, because that can also help you get a sense of what the place and hosts are like. Superhosts have to respond to 90% of inquiries, and they also can’t cancel reservations on a whim (which is important both for getting the support you need and for peace of mind knowing you have a place to stay upon arrival). They also have to have at least 10 stays within the last year, which demonstrates that they know what they are doing. You should also write to your host before you book, just to get a good sense of their communication and your gut feel.

    It’s definitely not for everyone, but I try to dispel the myth that Airbnbs are super dangerous, scary places. Just like any business, you have to do your due diligence.

    1. Higher Ed Database Dork

      Thanks for this tip! I’ve considered AirBnB for overseas trips but haven’t tried it yet (mostly because I need money for those plane tickets!). This is good information.

    2. Fiennes

      +1000

      I’ve stayed in Airbnbs on three different continents and at least 20 cities. I filter carefully for superhosts/location/amenities/nonsmoking/etc. I also read many comments to get a full sense of what the place/host offers. In return I’ve stayed in beautiful places for a lot less cash—been picked up for free at airports and train stations—received free wine & fresh flowers at check in—-and once even had a host come over at 10 in the evening to kill a bug. (In my defense, it was a truly ginormous bug — and it had flown in from outside, so wasn’t a cleanliness thing.)

    3. spaceygrl

      I’m a Superhost, as well. I rent out my extra bedroom on Airbnb and share everything with the guest aside from my bedroom (and I don’t enter theirs when they are here). I hire professional cleaners (which I would do anyway, I hate cleaning!) and ensure my guests feel safe and comfortable. I’m a mid-30s female executive in a large city. My extra bedroom rents from $100-$200/night depending on the season. Hotels range from $250-500/night in my city.

      I find that I have both business travelers and general sightseers. I have a lot of people who come for conferences and I live within a 10 min walk of one of our convention centers. On average, spring and fall are business travelers and summer are tourists. I don’t have a lot of guests in the winter.

      When I first started offering my guest bedroom on Airbnb, I was very worried about my own safety. That subsided within 2 months of hosting. I vet my guests a lot, have communication with them prior to arriving, and feel like I really know them. I completely understand not wanting to share a place with someone. 100% I get it. But as a Superhost, I wanted to point out that not all Airbnb experiences are horrible. I’ve enjoyed 99% of my guests. The “issues” I had were at the beginning or, very rarely, bizarre cultural differences that weren’t a huge deal, just odd. They weren’t really “issues” just… fun stories I get to tell now!

      I also travel a lot for work, and am gone about 30% of the time. If I am not in town, the guest gets the whole place to her/himself (except my bedroom which I close the door to) and I don’t change the price.

      For me, when I travel on business, I prefer to stay in hotels for the one fact: I like hotel points.

      I understand all of the points for and against Airbnb, including issues with rent, impacts to the neighborhood, etc. Since I am sharing the space with my guests, I always get guests who are respectful and positive impacts to the neighborhood. I can honestly say being an Airbnb host has been life-changing. I’m able to afford things I couldn’t otherwise and I spend a lot of money to ensure my apartment is a great place for guests.

    4. Adlib

      My one and only experience so far with Airbnb was with a Superhost, and all of this is spot on! We had a wonderful time, and it was so much more comfy and quiet than a hotel. (Super cheap too – in Mexico tourist area.) I wouldn’t hesitate to book again on my next trip! Our host even offered to grab groceries for us for a small fee so we’d have provisions/supplies once we got there which we took advantage of, and it helped so much! Airbnb can be a wonderful part of the trip as a whole.

  94. Erin

    Maybe it’s just me, but all of my Airbnb experiences have been positive so far, travelling on my own, with a child, with the whole family + dog. On the other hand, I’ve had several less-than-perfect experiences with hotels, even supposedly good ones. (And if you actually read their reviews, even the best, really expensive hotels have a bunch that will horrify you.)

    Can’t speak for transportation, I do prefer to stick to either taxis or public transportation (even from airports), but still, I’ve had taxis so uncomfortable that I had to ask to get out early. You can complain, but there is no guarantee something will happen as a result, especially if you are from out of town.

    1. Fiennes

      Airbnbs are pretty much the only way to go if you’re traveling with a dog. Lots of pet-friendly options at all price points. I find hotels that allow pets are either really, really pricey or really, really dicey, not much in between.

  95. batmansrobyn

    I (mid-20s lady) take Lyft often, and have never had a problem in my city (major metropolitan area with a very robust infrastructure), but if given the choice I’d almost always rather take a cab because cab drivers in my city know where they’re going but our rideshare drivers generally come in from the suburbs and are overly reliant on GPS.

    As for AirBnB, I’ve never used it because it skeeves me out! I’ve never seen reputable ones that cost substantially less than a decent hotel, the logistics of picking up keys to someone else’s house are a hassle even when you actually know the person whose home you’re in, and it generally seems like all the things that suck about staying in a hotel with absolutely none of the benefits. I drew the line when I thought I found a perfect one and when I went to book it there was a hidden side note that the owner had a cat who lived in the apartment and would be there at the same time I was–I don’t want to spend a trip dealing with someone else’s pet/pet hair!

    1. Rusty Shackelford

      And on the other end of the spectrum, my daughter would pay extra for a place to stay that came with a cat. ;-)

      (But yeah, I hope they had one of those automated litter boxes…)

  96. queen b

    I’ve used Ubers and Lyfts in many states, cities, and different countries. I’ve never had problems with them. I’ve also booked several Airbnbs for personal, vacation travel. I’m 23, for reference. I think it’s not unreasonable to request hotels because sometimes it’s just nice to know you are in a secure location. I think Ubers and Lyfts are fine though, and they really do save costs in the end.

  97. A Bridge to Die On

    Yea. Because taxi companies have such a stellar record for safety and vetting their drivers. I understand about AirBnB, but that is a very different monster. People need to get past sensational headlines.

      1. Kelly

        Most cities with established taxi companies that Lyft/Uber have come in have had the taxi companies lobbying very aggressively against them. I’m in the Midwest and both companies arrived in early 2015. The mayor was on the side of the taxi companies and tried to push through regulations that would have made it more difficult for Uber and Lyft to operate. The state pushed back and their (the taxi companies) lobbying failed. It was really telling how the taxi companies were trying to improve their PR by hyping how they have ADA accessible vehicles, but people didn’t fall for their spin.

        I know that both Uber and Lyft have had difficulty with people affiliated with the taxi companies doing stings on them. Some of the people’s behavior has gone into harassing and stalking territory.

        The taxi services were at best meh or indifferent to terrible. I was coming back on the bus and needed a ride home during the winter, because our mass transit is awful on the weekends where I live and I had luggage. I called one service’s dispatch when I was about 45 minutes out to arrange for a pickup when I arrived. Even though I had called ahead, I waited nearly a half hour for the taxi because the driver wanted to pick up another fare (it was a shared ride). I made it clear that I didn’t appreciate having to wait a half hour in the cold and didn’t tip him. I left multiple negative reviews too.