Use the Sharing Economy for Affordable Travel
Andy Fleming writing on the sharing economy…
One of the most exciting things about the growth of the sharing economy is that it allows us to vacation and travel on even the tightest of budgets. In fact, just by knowing where to look, you can drop certain travel costs to zero.
Between cheaper flight tickets, affordable room rentals, budget car rentals, cheap meals, and free tours; taking a break from the real world isn’t nearly as damaging to your pocketbook as it was just five years ago. You can even further offset the cost by using these same sharing economy apps to rent out your unused rooms…car…or parking space while you’re gone. A smart and thrifty traveler could even expect to earn some money while they’re away.
Of course, these sites aren’t just for vacationers. If you have to travel for work or a family emergency you can always significantly reduce your trip costs using these apps and websites. Anyone planning on doing some exploring to find the perfect spot for their future homestead should also consider using these tools to keep the search affordable.
Let’s start by looking at some of your options for transportation. Jump On Flyaways is a service which allows you to bid on airline seats. It’s like eBay for plane tickets. According to their site, 20% of all airline seats go unused. You can use Jump On to place bids to a variety of destinations. With a little patience, you can easily expect to grab tickets at a significant discount.
If you already have a ticket, you can upgrade it for cheap using Seateroo. This easy-to-use app allows passengers to swap ticketed seats on a flight, or exchange their seat for a cash payment. You can use this to upgrade to first class, earn some extra cash by trading an aisle seat for a middle one, or simply find a more preferable seating arrangement. If you’re riding with family on a full flight this can be a good way to ensure everyone gets to sit near one another.
Want to ditch the crowded plane entirely? There’s now a site called Jettly which acts a bit like Uber for plane rides. Jettly allows you to connect with pilots who fly private planes. All you have to do is find a pilot who shares your intended destination and agree to pay for your share of the fuel. The app allows you to pay with cash or a card and book a private flight on the cheap.
Finding a place to stay…
You’ve probably already heard about Airbnb, one of the original pioneers of the sharing economy. The site allows anyone to rent their empty house or apartment to those needing a place to stay. Not only do you have the option of staying in quaint villas or cottages as opposed to a typical busy hotel, you’ll also save a bundle on room fees. Airbnb continues to be the most robust room rental service, although it’s also worth looking over the selection at VRBO and HomeAway to help find the perfect fit for you.
It’s also possible to book a room entirely free of charge. Couchsurfing and The Hospitality Club both allow you to connect with people who have free space for lodging. Don’t let the name mislead you; sites like Couchsurfing aren’t limited to just couch space. Owners may also be letting empty rooms or sub-divided apartments.
Another option is to forego the room entirely and rent an RV for your travels. Outdoorsy and RVshare both offer services to find insured RV rentals at a reduced rate. You can then use BoonDockers to find free land to park it on.
Where should we eat?
Dining out might not seem like a big expense on a one-time basis, but it adds up over time and can end up eating a huge chunk of your paycheck if you’re not careful. This is especially true when traveling, you might end up overpaying for sub-par food if you don’t know the ins-and-outs of the local dining scene.
Instead of picking restaurants based on chance or Yelp reviews, why not dine locally with top chefs in private residences? You can use sites like EatWith and BonAppetour to book reservations with locals who are signed up to prepare quality, home-cooked meals for travelers. This is a great way to meet people and sample the local flavor, especially if you’re travelling overseas and want to make sure you get something authentic.
What to do…
Speaking of authentic local flavor, why not get a tour of the city from someone who lives there? Sites like Vayable, Rent-A-Guide, and Adventure Local give you the opportunity to book a guide that will show you a unique, insiders perspective on the area. This might mean you’ll get to see some unique spots that are off the beaten path and not covered by conventional tours. You’ll also be in a smaller group, making the experience more personalized and giving you more opportunities to ask your guide for inside tips on all the best local spots.