In 2019, you can turn your phone into an arsenal of travel tools. When you fire up the app store, the first options are to be expected—Kayak, Expedia and other traditional online travel agents as well as in-flight shopping, TripAdvisor, and airlines.
But if you keep digging, you’ll find options that wouldn’t exist if not for the sharing economy.
Peer-to-peer transactions, in which one party buys a service and the other lands a gig, are on the rise and can be found in every category. In lieu of boarding your pet at a doggy day care, for example, you can find an independent dog-sitter to come stay at your house (see: the app Rover). Here are a few options to try on your next trip.
We don’t have to tell you about Airbnb. You probably know about some other popular hotel alternatives, too, like Vrbo and HomeAway. But there are some other platforms out there that cater to different groups and interests worth exploring.
Misterb&b offers a way to book gay-friendly accommodations; it advertises that it has 310,000 LGBTQ hosts on its site. Book apartments, private rooms, villas, clothing-optional spots, as well as rooms at hotels and resorts.
Campspace will attract the intrepid outdoors enthusiast. Although it’s not available in app form, the website allows landowners to rent out their property to travelers looking to camp. Bring your pets, bring your RV or book more niche experiences around the world.
Love Home Swap, also only a website, is another pick that’s great for your budget. The service connects travelers who want to trade places for an agreed-upon amount of time. Both parties get to stay somewhere new without extra housing costs. Think “The Holiday,” but with fewer celebrities.
The classic sharing-economy method of transportation (in countries and cities where the services are legal and available) is using ride-hailing services like Uber or Lyft. The former is more prominent abroad and can be a stress-saver when you don’t speak the local language. Not only can you simply communicate your destination through the app, but you also enjoy added perks of not having to fumble with foreign money or worrying about tipping culture. But there are additional options.
Getaround is a car-rental that’s peer-to-peer, eliminating a swing by your traditional Hertz or Avis and letting you get into the driver’s seat faster. The app allows travelers to unlock another user’s car with keyless entry by using a smartphone. It’s a good call if you’re stateside and need a car.
Turo is another peer-to-peer rental-car service, but you can find Instagram-worthy vehicles on it in some cities, like a 1967 Chevy Camaro 327 in Los Angeles and a 1955 Ford Thunderbird in Las Vegas. You can go big before you go back home.
Spinlister is the most lo-fi way to get around on your trip, with no cars in sight. The app connects bike owners with the bikeless around the world, and also extends to other man-powered vehicles like surfboards and snowboards.
You’ve arrived in a new place, you dropped your bags in your temporary home and now you want to see what’s out there. To explore the surrounding area the share-economy way, turn to the help of locals through services like Vayable, Eatwith and Withlocals.
Vayable is interesting if you’re in one of its 10 cities in the United States and Europe: The platform connects travelers with handpicked independent local guides. You can explore street art in San Francisco with Russel H. or shop at a Barcelona flea market with Marga B.
Eatwith, for the food-obsessed traveler, advertises that its network extends to more than 130 countries, letting you book dining experiences (from brunch to cocktail parties), cooking classes and food tours led by a local guide.
Withlocals seems to have a little something for everyone, including family-friendly options, food tours, bike tours and day trips, all—as the name suggests—enjoyed with a resident. Check off the must-sees in a fresh way, with the insight of an expert private guide, with an activity like the company’s “Non-Touristy DMZ Day Trip: North Korea & Nature” in Seoul.
The sharing economy has eased the trade of goods and service for travelers, but there’s no expectation to rely on them fully on the road. The best way to use them: Complement your usual tools or add some excitement to the trip.•