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How to travel on a budget using the sharing economy?

By Akshaya Devi - May 27, 2020

With an increased interest in collaborative travel resources and traveller-to-traveller relationships, the sharing economy is on an all-time rise. Although not a new concept, the current scenario of economic rundown and travel halts have brought a major shift in travellers’ perspective towards the sharing economy.

On the bright side, travellers with increased awareness about the sharing economy no longer view them as the last resort for penniless situations but as a means to open themselves to the possibility of mindful micro-travelling. And here’s how to travel on a budget using the sharing economy.

Sharing economy platforms for budget travel:

Couchsurfing and Hospitality networks

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Couchsurfing is a means to connect with locals and stay at their place for free. This was the earliest component which earned popularity in the sharing economy space. Not only does this help save a great deal of money on luxury accommodation, but also grants the traveller a chance to experience the place “like a local”. However, travellers who are concerned about privacy and safety can make use of community apps to explore the place with locals instead of staying with them. Some examples of such hospitality networks are Be Welcome (exploring with locals), Warm Showers (road trip partners) and Purple Roofs (LGBT friendly), which lets you explore the place with locals who have a great deal of insider insight and knowledge about the place.

Shared rides and Car rentals

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We can’t deny that private cabs can bump up your expense just like that. Why rent a car to when you can share a ride while cutting down a huge percentage of commuting cost? Apps like Lyft, Uber, and Gojek offer ride-sharing services and most of them have some offer or coupon codes applicable all the time. Or you can rent a car if you want to travel by yourself. Instead of over-pricey, luxurious car rentals, go for smallscale car rentals or individuals willing to rent out their spare car—you will be amazed at the difference it makes!

House sitting & Apartment rentals

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Especially during the travel seasons where there is an increased demand for accommodation and “pet-watchers”, house sitting/pet sitting becomes an easy means to find budget accommodation while also protecting your privacy. Rover and Mind My House are some websites that let you stay in people’s houses—the owners are verified, reviewed and rated so that there is no question of safety for both the parties. Or you can rent a room/apartment or a whole house to stay in. The latter option comes with a host and a functional kitchen to cater to your food needs. More functional than a hostel and much cheaper than a hotel, apartment rentals might be a real way forward for cash-strapped travellers.

Socializing

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If you want more than a guide but less than a stranger, there are options for that too! Eatwith, Withlocals Vayable are some websites where you can request locals to join you in exploring their city. What better way to get under the skin of a place than by having a local by your side? Micro travellers who wish to have focussed, smaller but deep experiences will find this method of sharing economy suitable more so than others. Some platforms can even help connect with dinner parties and food walks hosted by locals.

Volunteering

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This needs no introduction. Travelling with a purpose, travelling long term with little money, travelling to learn, educate and grow, everything becomes possible with volunteer travelling—volunteering at a school, animal care, NGOs etc whilst staying for free. GoEco, African Impart and Worldpackers are some websites where you can sign up for volunteer travelling, either to extend your travel stay after exhausting your budget or to take part in NGO services abroad.


Sharing economy platforms for budget travel could be the way forward with the unexpected recent happenings that caught the travel space off guard. While this can never truly replace traditional travel methods, this could indeed help some travellers tap into the rewarding sharing economy to travel even when the financial odds are not favourable.

Cover image credits: Freepik