One Month in Downtown Cancun and an Airbnb Fiasco

I stayed in Cancun from December 6th to January 6th. This wasn’t a vacation as I was working my document review job most of the time I was there. The main purpose of this trip was to get away from the cold weather in Missouri and to get some alone time. The trip was successful for those purposes.

I decided to go on this trip after finding a $345 round trip ticket from Springfield, MO (SGF) to Cancun. SGF is a very small airport so it can be difficult to find cheap fares to international destinations starting from SGF. I paid for the airfare using credit card points so I wasn’t out of pocket for the airfare.

The trip started off fine. I stayed the night before in Springfield since I had an early morning flight. I got a shuttle from the hotel to SGF about an hour and a half before my flight was to depart. It took about 5 minutes to get through security. I have TSA precheck, but there was no line so it would have been just as fast without precheck. The first leg of the flight was from SGF to Dallas. This was a small plane and seating was 4 across in 2 groups of 2. The guy that was sitting next to me moved to sit next to his friend so I had my own row for this flight. For the Dallas to Cancun flight I was assigned a middle seat. I was hoping the flight wouldn’t be very full so I could switch seats, but as I boarded the plane I could see it was going to be almost full. I was pleasantly surprised when I got to my row and my seat was taken. The lady sitting in my seat told me she had moved to sit by her husband and asked if I’d be okay taking her aisle seat. I gladly took that switch.

The flight was smooth and we actually arrived in Cancun about 20 minutes early. To save money I took a bus from the airport to the downtown Cancun bus terminal. The ticket cost me $6 USD. If I’d had Mexican pesos it would have only cost about $4.75 USD. Still it was a lot cheaper than the $25 a taxi would have cost.

After arriving in downtown Cancun, I pulled up my Airbnb address on Google Maps and started the approximately 10 minute walk to my Airbnb. I had no problems finding the neighborhood. After that I started The problem I had was the address listed on Airbnb didn’t exist. It was a short street so it should have been easy to find the address. I asked several residents on the street and none of them knew where the address was. I pulled out my phone and pulled up the Airbnb listing so I could contact the host. At this point, I still thought this would be a minor problem.

I called the number listed on Airbnb and it was for Spain. Nobody answered, but a message in Spanish came on. My Spanish wasn’t good enough for me to understand what it was saying. I left a message and hoped it was actually going through. I then decided to contact Airbnb support through their chat feature. I got a message that they were unusually busy and it would be a while before they could get back to me. It was over an hour before I got a response from Airbnb support. They had no clarification on the address and stated they would contact the host and get back to me.

I decided to go to dinner and hope that they would have the issue resolved by the time I finished. The entire time I was walking around with a heavy backpack since I didn’t have anywhere to put it while looking for the Airbnb. It took me over an hour to eat dinner and return to the area where the Airbnb should have been. I didn’t get a response from Airbnb, until after I had returned to the area. The response stated that they had been unable to contact the host and that they would keep trying to contact the host and get back to me. I let them know that I needed somewhere to stay right then and asked for help locating a place. I received no response to that message.

At this point it was dark and a light rain had started. Walking around in the rain all night didn’t seem to be a good option. I got a hotel room for the night at a cost of $71 and decided I would figure out the Airbnb situation in the morning. I didn’t get any further response from Airbnb support that night.

When I woke up in the morning, I had a message from Airbnb support that they still hadn’t been able to contact the host and I could cancel the reservation for a full refund if I wished. That was fine, but I still needed a place to stay. I asked for assistance in finding a place to stay and once again did not receive a timely response. I had to be out of the hotel by 11am so at 10am I got on Airbnb and looked for a new place for the month. Since I was now booking at the last minute and needed a place that allowed instant booking, the amount of places available was much fewer than it had been when I originally booked my Airbnb. There were no places left that were close to as cheap as my original room. I ended up having to pay $300 more than my original room for the new room.

Everything went smoothly with the new place. It was easy to locate and was as described. Airbnb eventually got back to me with a refund of the original room. I left a poor review of Airbnb support, but they never followed up on it. Overall, I was seriously disappointed with Airbnb support. I’ll be much more reluctant to book Airbnb in the future and will make sure to have a plan B if things go wrong.

The rest of the trip went smoothly. My room was in a good location. I could easily walk to Parque de las Palapas or Mercado 28, both of which had many places to eat. There were also a couple of grocery stores, several convenience stores, a Walmart, and several other restaurants within reasonable walking distance. When I had extra time, I would take the public bus to the beach or the mall. The bus fare was only about $1.

It wasn’t the most exciting trip since I spent most of it working in my room. Still I enjoyed the trip. Being able to take long walks in the sunny weather almost every day helped improve my physical and mental health. Overall, the trip was well worth the cost even though the trip got off to a bit of a rocky start.

4 thoughts on “One Month in Downtown Cancun and an Airbnb Fiasco”

  1. I’ve never used Airbnb before. I’m always concerned that if things go wrong, like what had happened to you, it’s a hassle to set things right. So I usually stay at hotels. They may be pricier but it’s usually easier to fix things when they go wrong.

    Did everyone mask up when you flew in an almost full flight from Dallas to Cancun?

    • Everyone was masked on the flight.

      Airbnb has its pros and cons. In my case a hotel would have been prohibitively expensive for one month. Usually, when I book an Airbnb it is in situations where booking a hotel isn’t practical.

  2. That sucks about the Airbnb. When the pandemic first surfaced it was impossible to reach support but I figured by now they would be back to being responsive. Wonder if you booked a fictitious room at first. I would be very uncomfortable being in a foreign country and not knowing what to do. Sounds like you made the best of it though.

    • I’m not sure what the deal was with the room. I didn’t notice when I booked, but all the reviews were from 2017. In the future, I’ll look at the reviews more closely before booking. I was disappointed that in addition to being slow to respond, Airbnb didn’t offer me any help to book a different accommodation or offer some kind of discount for my trouble.


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