7 Unique Sharing Economy Services to Save Money on Holiday Travel

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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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  1. Student Loan RefinanceFixed rates from 3.999% APR to 7.804% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.480% APR to 7.524% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.480% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.07% plus 0.91% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

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  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.07%. Variable interest rates range from 2.72%-8.17% (2.72%-8.17% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.50%-8.69% (3.50% – 8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at http://www.citizensbank.com/EdRefinance, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled, must be in repayment of their existing student loan(s) and must make the minimum number of payments after leaving school. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The co-signer (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
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  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
  7. Average savings based on 18,113 actual customers who refinanced their federal and private student loans through our Education Refinance Loan between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. The calculation is derived by averaging the monthly savings of Education Refinance Loan customers whose payments decreased after refinancing, which is calculated by taking the monthly student loan payments prior to refinancing minus the monthly student loan payments after refinancing. The borrower’s savings might vary based on the interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of the loans they are seeking to refinance. The borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if their monthly payments are lower.
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