5 Fun Ways the Sharing Economy Helps You Save on Vacation


Unless you've been under a rock for the past couple years, you already know that the sharing economy means you can drop your vacation budget, thanks to innovative sites like Airbnb or Uber.

But it doesn't stop there. Try these options to shave a few dollars while making the most of your precious vacation time.

1. Rent Someone's Car — or Their Bicycle

If you need wheels for your vacation plans, then the sharing economy can help. To hire a car direct from a local owner, from only $5/hour, try Getaround. Registering is simple, with checks on your driver's license and credit card taking just minutes. There are no fees, and rentals include roadside assistance and insurance. This can be a great option if you need a car for some of your trip, but don't want to hire one for the whole time. You'll also help tackle the genuine environmental issue of car overpopulation.

If cycling is more your style, then try Spinlister, an app connecting active people with the gear they need to get moving on vacation. Hire a bike — or even a surf or snowboard — direct from the owner. Because you're hiring direct, you can ask any the owner any questions you like, who will be able to give you all the detail you need to make your ride a happy one.

2. Hire a Local Guide

Vayable connects locals with tourists, allowing travelers to get a genuine insight into the city they're visiting through the eyes of someone who really knows. Local hosts post proposed tours, experiences, and ideas on the site with a description for travelers to book. A thorough review process (similar to most sharing economy platforms) ensures quality, and the choice is enviable in areas covered. It's a marketplace, so prices vary, but check out the details of individual packages offered, and you could find an awesome experience that won't blow the budget.

In New York, for example, you could take a food tour of Chinatown with a food blogger described by The New York Times as an "invaluable food sleuth," before working it off with a running tour guided by a marathon runner who "can run 26 miles in the time it takes some of us to get out of bed." Luckily he doesn't mind slowing up for us mere mortals!

3. Get a Seat at the Chef's Table

Food is often the highlight of a vacation — and what better place to try the regional delicacies than in the home of a local? Eatwith allows you to do just that, browsing the menus of home cooks and private chefs, before booking to eat with them in their home. Think of it as the secret supper club you don't need to be a local to know about. If you're visiting LA, for example, you could come away not only well fed, but also with your own pasta making skills, learned from an Italian master and private chef, or sign up for any one of a range of "communal dining events" hosted by local experts.

4. Tap Into Wi-Fi

The original idea behind Fon is astonishingly simple. If users share their home Wi-Fi with others, then they get access to other's Wi-Fi when they are out and about, in return. Today, the company boasts over 19 million hotspots, which users can access either by signing up through their own telco provider to share their own Wi-Fi and access others' for free, or by buying passes for between one hour and one month. With roaming charges a frequent headache for travelers, this could be the solution, helping you keep connected without racking up ridiculous bills.

5. Send Your Puppers on Vacay, Too

Who said the sharing economy should be limited to us humans? If you need a home for your doggie best friend while you travel, the sharing economy can help with that, too. Dogvacay hooks up pet parents with sitters who can look after their dogs in the comfort of a cozy home, rather than a formal kennel setting. As sitters set their own rates, there is a healthy market making costs reasonable, and the range of services varies to meet individual needs. The team look after premium level pet insurance for your pooch, and offer a concierge service should you need anything specific to make your booking work.

Vacations are never cheap, and it is definitely worth checking out all the vacation money-saving sites and ideas you can. But the sharing economy is not only about cutting your expenses and getting more for your money. With apps like these, you can also grab experiences that are simply not available in the traditional tourist market, in the click of a button, to truly get the biggest bang for your buck.

What do you think? What sharing economy apps are transforming your vacations, and your life?

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