A few months ago my husband and I stayed with a lovely older married couple in Pennsylvania. 

We arrived mid-afternoon; they chatted with us for a bit, showed us our room, asked if we needed anything else, and gave us a key to the house, in case we decided to go out later. It was a perfectly normal and pleasant exchange, and I was looking forward to a pleasant stay with them.

We were planning on staying in that first night, but we changed our minds and decided to go out. No problem though, because we had a key to the house, right?


I don’t know what key she had given me, but it wasn’t a key to her house. After trying both the front and back doors several times, testing windows to see if any were open, and uselessly jiggling the door nobs, I had to resign and admit that we were locked out. 

I started trying to get in touch with our host. I called her, texted her, messaged her on Airbnb. Nothing seemed to be getting through to her. (I found out later that she was in a pretty dead spot for cell phone service at the time.) 

Eventually, she got enough signal for one of my texts to be delivered, and she told me where the spare key was hidden. 

It was an inconvenient incident for us, but at the end of the day it wasn’t terrible. We were only locked out for about 30 minutes total. But it could have been hours – they didn’t return until well into the night that evening. 

This is one of the absolute worse things you could do to your guests.

They are paying you to stay in your space; you have to make sure they have access to it!

Of course, I’m a big advocate for smart locks – they remove any possibility of a key mix-up. But I understand that using smart locks isn’t always a feasible option. If you must give your guests physical keys, though, PLEASE make sure to GIVE THEM THE RIGHT KEY!!

Paint it a bright color. Get one of those silicon key markers. Clip it to a lanyard. Put an obnoxiously large keychain dongle on the key ring. Do whatever you have to do to make sure that when you give a guest a key it’s going to actually open the door it’s supposed to open!