Whether you know it or not, the sharing economy is kind of a big deal. It's re-connecting modern humanity, providing income to those without jobs (even in developing countries), and is changing the face of travel as we know it. From hitchhiking apps that display real-time ride offers & requests, to platforms that display RVs, camping equipment, and parking spots to rent when not in use. The options are limitless – and that's saving and earning wanderlusters some serious dough.
What is the sharing economy?
“What's mine is yours – for a fee.”
Also known as the collaborative economy, peer-to-peer sharing, or social lending, the sharing economy emerges from the idea that people can save and/or earn money by renting, lending, selling, or exchanging unused or underused items/services. Such things could be your vacant house when you're on holiday, your tennis racket when you're not using it, or your boat when it's docked during the week. Anything goes!
Why use it?
- Rent, borrow, or buy items & services – from accommodation to camping gear
- Offer/use an independent service over a branded one (e.g. apartment over a chain hotel)
- Lend & exchange services (e.g. house or petsit for free accommodation)
- Mingle with locals in foreign places
- Connect with neighbours or travellers in your own city
- See and believe firsthand that humans can be trusted
Is the sharing economy safe?
Many greet the idea of “sharing with strangers” skeptically. Sensationalist stories have permanently etched fear into many, from AirBNB rentals gone wild to Uber cabbies turned threatening. But such reads aren't meant to be warnings. They're meant to drive readers to a catchy headline, even if they don't represent the experience of the other 99% of users.
Statistically speaking, most violence takes place between people who already know each other. In fact, the rise of the sharing economy has seen a decline in serial killings (yes, someone seriously wrote about this). The most obvious point overlooked however, is that people using the sharing economy are simply trying to make valuable connections and/or some side cash – not earn themselves a prison sentence.
The Ultimate List of Sharing Economy Services for Travel
With the boom of the sharing economy around the world, it's hard to keep track of what's offered where. Here's a list of every sharing service out there, from ones you can offer yourself at home to earn money towards your next trip, to services you can use while travelling to cut costs. We're trying to keep it as current as possible, so if you learn about a new service, feel free to let us know!
Have a room, a house, a boat, or a backyard someone could camp in? Want to care for someone's home in exchange for a free place to stay? Here's how you can rent or be a renter of all kinds of accommodation!
Rent your own home or be a guest in someone's apartment or home. For the traveller this is cheaper than hotels, for the renter/lender it's a great side income.
Rent your campervan, RV, or trailer when it's not in use. This provides travellers hugely discounted prices against typical rates.
List a usable camping space (e.g. backyard) or parking spot for an RV for easy side cash. Provides travellers budget options to camp or park RVs over pricey campsites.
Stay on someone's couch in exchange for making global friends (and likely offering the same hospitality if they visit your country).
Exchange your home with someone else's = free accommodation for your next trip!
Have someone mind your house and/or pets while you're away at no cost. Traveller gets free accommodation in exchange for caring for a home and/or pet. Not sure how to get started? Check our how-to guide here.
- TrustedHousesitters ($96 USD/yr – large member base.)
- House Carers ($50 USD/yr)
- Nomador ($89 USD/yr – new, allows free registration & free housesit browsing)
- HouseSitter.com (free to start, $90 USD/year for featured profile and unlimited messages/phone calls)
- Luxury Housesitting ($25 USD/yr – popular in U.S.)
Offer (or receive) work in exchange for free accommodation – anything from farm labour and tutoring English, to managing a hostel reception desk or walking dogs.
Book someone's non-refundable hotel reservation (or list your own) at a discounted rate. This gets money back in the pockets of the initial booker (who can no longer fulfil their reservation) and a great bargain for the traveller!
Activities & Tours
Host travellers for a home-cooked meal or meet a local yourself and take their own DIY walking tour. Tours and entertainment can be offered or used worldwide on anything you can possibly dream of!
Rent out your boat or borrow someone's boat for a day – anything from basic canoes to luxury yachts. Because paying fees for an unused, docked boat is just sad!
Travelling? Why not take a course or class in the local community, or host a course to travellers exploring your hometown in anything from language to painting to cooking.
Provide a home-cooked meal for travellers looking to mingle with locals or meet a local yourself and dine with them!
Get paid to provide local tips & knowledge online on destinations. Travellers obtain authentic advice from locals for a small fee or even a workspace – awesome way to meet locals or to make some money sharing your own legit local knowledge!
Rent out or borrow yourself any outdoor sports gear or camping equipment. From ski and snowboarding equipment to a full tent set – this can save travellers some serious costs on rentals.
Lead your own or take a tour from a local – anything from a boat tour in your local lake to a culinary tour in your hometown marketplace.
Have a bike you're not using? A vacant parking spot during the week? Want a lift that's cheaper than a cab? Transportation offers a wealth of opportunities in the sharing world for both owners & users!
Check out this worldwide map of all bike-sharing services around the world.
Relocate other people's cars, RVs & campervans when they need them moved and get yourself a free ride. Read our how-to guide here if you're not sure what a car/RV relocation is or where to start!
Fly a private jet or airplane for a hugely slashed price – great for obscure routes or those wanting a taste of luxury without the astronomically sky-high price tag!
Have a vacant parking spot, or are you a traveller wanting much cheaper parking rates? Rent or be a renter of parking spaces – don't let space go to waste!
Taxis are notoriously pricey in most countries, and in some places are known for overcharging tourists. Apps like Lyft and Uber provide a set rate prior to pick-up, often for significantly less than local cab rates.
The Thrifty Gist
- Planning a getaway? Check beforehand if any parts of your trip can involve the sharing economy
- Want to save up for travel? Review our list and see how you can earn some side money. Rent your empty parking spot, a vacant couch, or cook meals for tourists
The sharing economy is not only revolutionizing travel, it's an embedded part of it. We'd argue that the best aspects of the sharing economy aren't the savings, but the connections you make in foreign places. So what are you waiting for? Get sharing! 🙂
We'd love to keep our list as current as possible, so if you see something missing here, simply comment below and we'll add it in. Thanks for sharing!