7 Unique Sharing Economy Services to Save Money on Holiday Travel

holiday travel

Travelers in the United States — including residents and international visitors — spend an average of $2.7 billion every single day, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

holiday trip

Image Source: U.S. Travel Association

Traveling is a big business, especially around the holidays. Last year, 72 percent of Americans indicated they’d be taking at least one trip between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, according to Orbitz.

Traveling costs can add to your holiday debt balance, so if you’re one of those millions of travelers, you may worry concerned about the impact of traveling on your budget. Fortunately, there are sharing economy services you can use to lower the costs of travel and keep your expenditures down.

Here are a few sharing economy services you can take advantage of if you want to take a holiday trip without overspending.

Saving on accommodations for your holiday trip

Accommodations are among the biggest expenses for holiday travel. Using Diamond Ratings — the scoring system AAA uses to rate 28,000 hotels throughout the United States (a higher rating is considered to offer better amenities and services for travelers) — Travel Weekly found that Three Diamond hotels increased prices around 14 percent on average to $176 per night. Even Two Diamond hotels are $117 per night on average, which means a seven-day trip would still cost more than $700.

Since prices are rising, budget-minded travelers may be interested in finding ways to save on accommodations for their holiday trip. Fortunately, there are many options for saving on accommodations using sharing economy services including the following.

Vacation rental services

Services such as HomeAway and Airbnb allow homeowners to rent out their houses. An analysis of more than 220,000 Airbnb listings worldwide conducted by Busbud, a service that helps travelers book bus tickets, revealed Airbnb prices beat out hotels in seven of 12 cities examined. While prices varied, savings were often substantial. In Seattle, for example, the average hotel price was $50 more per night than the average Airbnb price.

These services can also have other perks. “I think I saved a couple hundred dollars by booking with HomeAway,” said Elisabeth McKnight. “But really, it allowed us to stay in a smaller town without big hotels, close to the rock climbing and beaches.”

McKnight said she’d advise other travelers to take advantage of renting from a local. She added her favorite part of using HomeAway was getting all the insider tips and tricks from locals.

holiday travel

Data source: Busbud

House-sitting services

House-sitting services such as TrustedHousesitters and LuxuryHousesitting connect travelers with homeowners who want someone to watch their homes and pets. Although these sites charge would-be house sitters a small annual membership fee (sitters pay $119 annually at TrustedHousesitters, for example), not having to pay anything for accommodations can save more than $100 per night.

“House-sitting has saved my husband and me well over $20,000 in rent, utilities, gym memberships, and dining out,” Bianca Rappaport of Housesit Hustle said. These savings come from being able to stay for free in homes that she was house-sitting. “We’ve landed back-to-back sits throughout the U.S., Thailand, Malaysia, Portugal, Cyprus, the U.K, and Greece.”

Couchsurfing services

If house-sitting isn’t your thing, couchsurfing services — including Couchsurfing and Hospitality Club — allow you to pay nothing for your accommodations, again saving on the cost of a hotel room.

“Couchsurfing helped me save even more money because you don’t pay anything for your accommodation,” said Fernanda Kiehl, a Brazilian travel blogger from MondayFeelings. “I used it in Indonesia for three nights and in Thailand for four nights.”

Services for campers

The average cost of a private RV park in the U.S. is $38.50 a night, according to Wandrly Magazine. But, you may be able to find a cheaper place to park your camper by using sharing economy services.

“We usually rent a campervan to drive across the U.S. and Australia, or across other countries in Europe, Asia, and South America,” said Alice Johnson, a writer for Backpacker Jobs Australia. “Finding a parking spot for our camper van can be difficult, especially in remote areas, or in big cities where parking is scarce and very expensive. We’ve been using online parking marketplaces that connect drivers with parking space owners to book a driveway or garage whenever and wherever we need one.”

Johnson recommended Spothero within the U.S., YourParkingSpace in the U.K., and Parkhound in Australia. BoonDockers also provides RV parking, while Harvest Hosts connects campers with parking spaces in tourism sites, farms, and vineyards.

For your next holiday trip, this option could allow you to spend far less than you would if you stayed in a $100+ per night hotel.

Sharing economy services for holiday travel transportation

According to Travel Weekly, rental car averages are up 34 percent, and the average cost of a rental car is now $70 a day. You can save on the costs of renting a car by taking advantage of different sharing economy services that reduce holiday travel transportation costs. Options include:

  • Carpooling and car-sharing services such as BlaBla Car and GetAround. “BlaBla Car saved me around 15 euros ($17.87) per journey,” Kiehl said. “I used it in Brazil and in Germany a few times.”
  • Scooter sharing services such as Scoot and Coup. “Coup is a great service that offers electric scooters,” said Anne Steinbach, founder of annewhere.com, a blog documenting trips taken worldwide. “Imagine yourself riding through Berlin on a scooter — sounds cool, right? I did it with my boyfriend and we saved our ticket for the public transport. One 30-minute ride with Coup is 3 euros ($3.57), whereas one ticket with the public transport is 2.70 euros ($3.22) for two hours, but it will only take you in one direction. Even though this may sound cheaper, it is not. Especially if it’s two people on the scooter, you do save money and it’s way more fun!”
  • Bike sharing services such as Bikesharing and Next Bike. “For shorter trips, I use Next Bike, which is now available in Berlin and Cologne. It’s a great bike app,” Steinbach said. “For only 1 euro ($1.19) you can cycle for 15 minutes, a perfect way of getting from A to B quickly — without having the hassle of hopping on and off trains.”

By taking advantage of sharing economy services to save on holiday travel, you can start the new year off with more money left in your pocket. This extra cash should come in handy for accomplishing your financial goals in 2018.

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