Vacation Rental Scams – Protect Yourself!

condominium

condominium (Photo credit: OiMax)

With all condo and vacation rental bookings, there are steps you should take before you make any form of payment. In my opinion, these steps include –

– Use Google Image Search to see if the images being used on the listing appear anywhere else on the web – not sure how? check out this how to – http://www.wikihow.com/Search-by-Image-on-Google – you will be surprised sometimes at the results you get.

– Search the unit number with the name of the building, and see what results appear. You may find reviews for the unit on sites like TA that way. People often put in a review for a condo on the hotel listing (eg if you look at the Ilikai hotel listing, you will find reviews for the condos there).

– Search for the details of the people you are considering booking with – eg name, phone number, email address.

– Search for some of the text from the listing and see if it is borrowed from another listing on the web. The scammers are quite lazy and quite often just copy the original listing text.

– Call and speak with the person you are making the booking with personally.

– When speaking with them, you could ask for references – eg people who rented the unit previously.

– If you are able to contact other people who have rented the same unit, do so, and clarify the details with them – eg who owns the unit or the company they rented from, who they spoke to, the phone number they called.

When you do finally go ahead and make a booking – to protect yourself, pay via credit card.

I hope this information might be useful in protecting you from scams – yes, it has happened to people, here is a recent thread re this on Tripadvisor –

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g28932-i36-k6308707-Beware_a_VRBO_scammer_on_Waikiki_Shore_listing-Hawaii.html

Also on AirBNB – be very careful – ONLY make payment via the AirBNB website system. This family found this out the hard way –

http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=2112462

I wish you all safe – and scamfree – travels. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Aloha Stadium Swap Meet

From my November 2011 trip report –

H wanted to go to the swap meet, and I said I would go along. For some reason this really irritated my sisters other half, which really irritated me in return and made me determined to make a great day of it. The next day we could go was on Wednesday the 23rd which would also be the day we would get the results re cancer, but it was also the last chance before H would go home (early morning of the 25th), so it was the only option.

Of course I was already well aware of what the results would be – my sister and her partner had not been there after the surgery when the doctor looked me in the eye and told me what she thought – what she was certain – that it was. And I believed her, because she would know, right?

Having been to the swap meet before I knew it would be hot, I knew we needed to make sure we had sunscreen and plenty of water and hats, etc. Not to mention shedloads of $$!! So we set out very well prepared for the day and I got some awesome bargains.

There is a lady there who sells plus size clothes and they are beautiful, some Hawaii style wears which I bought a few of in amazing colours and patterns, which I did not see anywhere else I went.

IMG_2136 Jostar made in USA brand slinky style.

I got many t-shirts for the other half in particular he wanted some of the red dirt style t-shirts (in other colors too, the blue and green are very popular with him) and there is a place there with a lot of gothic style t-shirts for men – that same place has nice cargo shorts in camouflage colors which he likes. If you have ever seen the t-shirts Aaron Paul’s character Jesse wears on breaking bad, that kind of style. When I got home and unpacked it turned out, I had bought him 14 t-shirts during the trip and the majority of them had turtles on. Without me even thinking about it, this happened.

IMG_0406 “Jesse” from Breaking Bad style t-shirts.

I did not buy much jewellery but I did make my own bracelet and also made one for my niece at a stall there with mucho hello kitty and swarovski style crystals. It was gorgeous, sitting there in the warm Hawaiian breeze, making bracelets.

We also bought suitcases, and at some point in the journey around the stadium, our carryings became too heavy and I bought a $7 roller bag. It was the most awesome handy item.

Towards the end of the swap meet, while at a jewellery stall where H was buying some gifts for her family back home, my phone rang. It was my sister with the news I was not expecting – that there was no cancer. Thus cementing forever my assertion that the swap meet is the best place & thing in the world, ever.
IMG_0400 My swap meet haul in 2011 – note the rolling bag in the front there ^^ it cost me $7 and you should get one too!

I cannot recommend the swap meet highly enough – but – I know it is not for everyone. It is a “you will love it or hate it” type place. So to give you an idea if you are going to love it or hate it, do some googling for images from the swap meet, visit the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet website and read some posts from bloggers who visited. Like this one from someone who did not love itthis post from someone who liked it – And a few others with photos to check out – hereherehere

Stunned.

Here I sit, literally stunned into silence by the massive range of socks available in the USA.

Have a look at the huge range of socks on this website – Sierra Trading Post. They have nearly 500 different pairs of womens socks you can choose from starting at AUD$1.53.

They have all kinds of socks, in all kinds of materials.

I will like now to tell you a story about socks. Back in 1998, I was travelling from Adelaide to Tamworth for Christmas. I found these socks at Beach Culture in Sydney Airport while waiting for my next flight. They looked incredibly comfortable. They were 100% cotton but the thickest plushest cotton I had ever seen. They were $9.99 for 2 pairs. So I bought 2 pairs.

On the way home, having had the chance to wear these socks while on holiday, I bought every single pair I could find in that shop. Sadly they did not have anywhere near as many as I would have liked to buy. I think I might have ended up with about 8 pairs total.

Every single time I transited Sydney Airport from then on, I was on a mission to find more of these socks. On occasion I was lucky and picked up a couple more pairs but in general it was an epic fail. By 2001, they had stopped making these socks and they were no longer anywhere to be found. Never in my lifetime again have I ever seen socks so thick and plush. And believe me, I have been looking everywhere.

These socks were always my first choice when getting dressed for the day – for a few years there, they were the only socks I wore at all. They have been worn in all kinds of situations, with all kinds of shoes.

As the years went by, some of these socks fell victim to a hole in the toe, or even a sock kidnapping, where two went into the dryer and only one returned. A moment of silence for a fallen comrade, an anguished sad crying, the occasional sock funeral was held.

Some of the one left socks were partnered up with other one left socks to make a new pair.

Last night I wore one of those pairs of socks to bed. In 2013. I still have 7 pairs. They are nearly 15 years old so I guess in sock years, they are like 300 years old.

I will now post a photo of these socks. They have gone from bright white to a weird shade that cannot quite be described. They are a shadow of their former selves but are still plusher than most socks you will find in Australia.

IMG_2152

Please do not pass judgment on these socks. They are the Superman of socks. I will forever remember them and their awesomeness when looking through the sock basket to pick out a pair to wear. They continue to be a part of my sock family as night time socks because the elastic is not quite up to the task of daytime wear.

I am hopeful to find some new sock supermen – and superwomen – when next in Hawaii. I have purchased socks there before, however am still looking hopefully that I might find some as plush and awesome as the Beach Culture socks.

One Waterfront Tower

There are these two buildings in Honolulu that I just love. I have no idea why. Something about them speaks to me.

IMG_0575

I was very surprised to find that Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs went window washing on one of them! And there are plenty of gratuitous helicopter shots of my favourites.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_2gvj0C8NE – Part 1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xasOAK-3IM – Part 2

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7B7xoNpUUo – Part 3

(Sorry I have been absent for a bit – long story – a good friend of mine passed away)