If you’re reading this post you are probably somewhat familiar with the I Like Local concept that provides you unique travel experiences from locals. I love this concept because of the way it gets travelers away from the traditional mass tours, instead facilitating people spending time with locals showing us the things they love in their home town. In addition to peer-to-peer travel experiences, there are a number of other sharing economy travel services that can help you really explore like a local and save money at the same time. Here I’m going to share my most favorite peer-to-peer travel services.
Home exchange: this is an opportunity to trade your home for someone else’s, and enjoy free vacation lodging, complete with all the comforts of home. It’s a huge money saver and can result in some incredible vacation experiences you wouldn’t get by staying in a hotel. People in the home exchange community will often also trade tips about their home town, exchange cars, and even swap pet care. Here’s an overview of why I’m such a big fan of home exchange: http://sharetraveler.com/home-exchange-vacation-lodging/
Homestay and Hospitality lodging: I Like Local offers some homestay opportunities that include really interesting activities as a part of the experience. If you are going somewhere that they don’t have covered, or want a homestay that is more focused on the lodging, there are a number of websites that focus exclusively on homestays. And most of these lodging options involve locals who will provide you with tips about what to do, and maybe share a meal or take you out sightseeing. Here’s my overview of hospitality lodging: http://sharetraveler.com/hospitality-lodging-overview/.
Trade labor for lodging: If you want to stay somewhere a bit longer and really live like a local without spending any money, there are a number of new websites that facilitate folks looking for short term labor in exchange for lodging (and sometimes food or other amenities) for travelers. Here’s an overview of this type of lodging: http://sharetraveler.com/trading-labor-lodging/
There are some websites that focus exclusively on home meals, allowing you to enjoy regional food, with locals and sometimes also other travelers. This is a subset of the peer-to-peer activity sites, which generally offer both meals and activities. I don’t see a reason to separate these, except that for businesses that choose to focus on food they can offer unique twists on the meal/cooking experience. If you really like food tourism they provide a great place to look for interesting food experiences. Here’s an overview of peer-to-peer dining options: http://sharetraveler.com/share-meals-with-locals/
I love ridesharing for the cheap transportation and interaction with locals. Some places have more ridesharing opportunities than others: this is quite popular in parts of Europe, and just getting started in Asia and the United States. I had a great experience using ridesharing to get all around Spain last fall.
Peer-to-peer car rentals are another good option if you want to do a self-drive vacation. In many places you can rent a car from another person (through a third party website) and save some money while gaining more flexibility about pickup location. In the United States you can consider this type of car rental directly from the airport, or you can get a car in your destination town/city in many places around the world using these sharing economy services. For people interested in having unique local experiences and taking advantage of peer-to-peer travel, the sharing economy is a growing area of opportunity for fun and frugal travel. At sharetraveler.com you can find a spreadsheet with all the businesses I’ve found offering peer-to-peer travel services. You can filter on any of the categories above, select region of the world where you will be traveling, and hopefully find some useful services for your next trip.
Dawn Zerly is a travel blogger focused on travel services in the sharing economy. You can check out her website sharetraveler.com