How I Choose a Vacation Apartment with Food & Environmental Allergies

Since I have food allergies and environmental allergies, there is a lot of consideration that I put into deciding on a vacation rental apartment. I tend to use Airbnb the most, but over the years I’ve probably used them all at one point or another. No matter the website, I am always looking for the same considerations during each search.

I’ve heard from a number of readers about the difficulty of choosing an apartment. I will tell you with all of my experience, I do think it is an acquired skill that gets easier with time. The more I know what to look for, the better it gets.

So, what do I consider before booking an apartment to rent? Here are the top qualifications that I look for in order to choose a rental apartment for a holiday. Most of the considerations are helpful to anyone, but I definitely keep allergies in mind as well. How do I discern a good Airbnb or rental apartment from a bad one? Check off this list!


A huge mistake that people often make is not looking closely at the reviews. Not only do I make sure there are reviews. I make sure there are many reviews and I make sure there are recent reviews.

The first question I ask myself when I look at an apartment online is if they have recent reviews. I want to know that people have stayed there recently (within the last two months). If the last review was six months to a year ago, that is a red flag to me. Why hasn’t anyone stayed there recently? Ideally stick to apartments that have been reviewed in recent weeks.

I also won’t consider staying at an apartment that has less than ten reviews. Even then, I still think it is pretty risky with so few reviews. I like to see at least 50 reviews or so. This usually means that the apartment has been rented over a number of years, which means the host has a lot of experience and will likely do a better job than someone new to apartment rentals.

Cleanliness is also huge with food and environmental allergies. I read through those reviews looking to know if the place was clean and resembled the photos from the website.


When I moved to Philadelphia last year, I spent a lot of time looking at apartments online. There were photos that easily eliminated some of the places I saw listed. With online holiday rental apartment listings, I have similar photo expectations. If I see blurry photos, they are automatically out. If there are only a few photos posted, they are likely out. The photos should be clear and there should be multiple ones. There should be photos of the entire apartment and none of them should be blurry. They also shouldn’t look so professional that they came out of the magazine because if so, they probably did.

Location and accessibility

I often travel alone which is why finding a safe neighborhood is a top priority. I want to make sure that I can go out for dinner and come home on a well-lit street where people are around and places are open. Even if I am traveling with a friend or a boyfriend, I still look for safe locations. It is not always easy to judge this by the apartment website though. I read the reviews about locations in that place and I also read up about the different neighborhoods and areas in that city.

Accessibility is another essential. If I am renting a car, then I need to find out if there is a place to park. If I am planning to use public transportation, I need to know how close it is and how often it runs. Transportation and parking are usually mentioned in the listings, but if not, that’s another sign to be wary of how far away it is from where you want to visit and spend your time.


Since I tend to be a solo traveler more often than not, finding a place that will be cost-effective is essential. Apartments do tend to be cheaper than staying at a hotel almost always. If you are traveling with a few others, it definitely makes staying in an apartment the most cost-effective. Some cities are more challenging. When I traveled to Copenhagen in September, the amount we spent on an apartment was more than I wanted to, however weighing out the other factors including location made it the best choice. Keep cost in mind but don’t let it determine the entire decision. I’ve paid less and had excellent apartments, however I’ve paid less and had a few that weren’t worth the hundred or so dollars less that I spent.

Allergy Considerations

My environmental allergies are usually the biggest allergy factor that I take into account when looking at vacation rental apartments. Ideally, I am always looking for hardwood floors or tile (no carpets). Sometimes it will show in the listing. I also look at photos and double check when I contact the host.

Pets are another consideration. Finding apartments that don’t allow pets is the best option for those with animal and environmental allergies. Usually it will say in the apartment listing. If not, I see what else is available before contacting the host to ask.

Although less charming, I tend to look for apartments that are more recently renovated with newer looking furniture. I’ve stayed in some very charming apartment but with older furniture and way too much dust. The newer, usually the better for environmental allergies.

When I take my food allergies into consideration, I usually see if they have a dishwasher. I bring a new sponge and I have some easy to pack utensils and containers. A dishwasher just gives that extra reassurance that dishes are cleaned properly.

By taking these factors into account on your next vacation rental apartment search, you should have more luck finding the best possible option for you!

What other factors do you consider when looking at Airbnb or other rental sites?


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