Remember when your mother and father told you sharing was caring? You might have been reluctant and unwilling at first but over the years, you came around and saw the wisdom in their words. When thinking of travelling, we don’t necessarily see the “sharing” aspect of booking a flight, a place to stay, a tour or even grabbing a meal but the sharing economy is alive and well, kicking and thriving, and vying for your business. Peer-to-peer sharing is nothing new: vagabonds of yesteryears have travelled on a shoestring budget (or no budget at all) using a collaborative economy to get from point A to B. The sharing economy basically “emerges from the idea that people can save and/or earn money by renting, lending, selling, or exchanging unused or underused items/services.”
With the advent of the Internet social lending has been given a digital reboot and is no longer the realm of the down-and-out wanderer — the 21st century sharing economy is accessible to whoever seeks it, through user-friendly hitchhiking apps like Rdvouz to world-renown hospitality websites like Couchsurfing.
Still a tad nervous?
Here’s a sharing economy introduction to get your feet wet.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably heard of Uber and Lyft, taxi alternatives that provide a set (and often cheaper) rate prior to pick up. What if we told you could save money on a flight or RV rental by using the sharing economy as well?
Jumpon Flyaways lets you select your route and then bid on the available tickets. You can monitor and manage your bid ranking through their app. The premise is simple: every year 20% of airline seats fly empty, you get to bid on these unsold seats.
Surfair is “the air without the lines”. Positioning itself as the first private air travel club providing all-you-can-fly service, they offer access to a fleet of executive jets flying to and from the U.S West Coast and Europe so far. The membership — a steep $ 1750 — is only worth it if you’re a (very) frequent flyer.
HitTheRoad.ca is a vehicle delivery service. Instead of hiring drivers to deliver a car from point A to B, they employ the help of travellers seeking a free ride across Canada or the US — minus the cost of rental and gas. If you’re flexible on your itinerary, and want to save money on a RV or any kind of rental, this might just be the (cheapest) road trip of a lifetime.
Going with the assumption you have at least heard of websites, or apps, such as Airbnb, Roomorama or Homeaway, that allow you to rent your own home or be a guest in someone else’s, let’s broaden our sharing economy mindset.
Sleep on someone’s couch, but not really, by joining Couchsurfing. You get to meet new people (hello locals!) and crash at their place for free, awesome right? Don’t forget to return the favour!
Not really a people’s person? That’s OK. Spend some quality time pet sitting (and living in someone else’s house for free) with Trusted Housesitters.
Want to visit a new country and keep yourself busy? Work Away can definitely help you with that. From manning a bed and breakfast and horse care in the Negev Desert in Israel to teaching English in Kota Sukabumi while staying with a local family, the premise is to trade some of your time for a place to stay while connecting with people and picking up new skills.
“The best, and most underappreciated, way to truly get to know a place is to talk to the locals” was a reccomendation in our article A New Year’s resolution — globe-trot like a traveller not a tourist. And what better way to follow this simple tip than through the social economy?
What’s a perfect vacation without a boat? Rent your own at Getmyboat.com. From dragon row boats, double kayaks to luxury yachts and fly boards, the choice is yours.
Meet new people and get a taste of homemade local cuisine when you sign up with Eat With. Available in over 200 cities, this website allows you to browse menus, book a seat and, you’ve guessed it, stuff your face! From noodle making classes to a bespoke menu with a Michelin-starred chef, and from Barcelona to New York, there’s a dining experience sure to titillate your taste buds!
Guided tours are for suckers, right? Well, not when you book it through Tours by Locals. From visiting Tegucigalpa to the three perfect hours in Budapest, real people in the know share their favourite culinary, historical and commercial haunts.
Already revolutionizing the travel industry, disrupting hoteliers and flight companies alike, the websites shared above are just a drop in the ocean of social lending available to you. More than saving money, peer-to-peer sharing is about making deeper, more personal, connections and travelling mindfully and holistically.
So what are you waiting for?