Love home shares? Tricked-out RVs? Chef-prepared dinners? Resort pools? Here are more ways the “sharing economy” creates unique opportunities for families on the road.
By Christine Watridge
Looking to travel, but don’t want to spend boatloads of money? Or looking for a unique experience? Well, you’re in luck—here are 7 “sharing-economy” opportunities—aside from Airbnb—to help your family have a bit of extra fun on your next vacation.
Hipcamp was founded in 2013 by Alyssa Ravasio and Eric Bach to enable travelers to “get outside, connect with nature, and find the right spots for them.” The platform helps users to discover and book outdoor stays, from camping, RV travel, glamping, staying in cabins, and more. It’s basically the Airbnb of camping! The website is easy to navigate, the options wide, and the prices cheap.
I’ve used Hipcamp over the last few years to book campsites near national parks, because I’ve found that it’s easier to find something available if you’re booking a little last-minute. And I absolutely love it! I’ve camped on an organic farm in Kentucky and a beautiful property (pool and patio included in the stay!) in Southern California.
My advice to anyone who wants to use Hipcamp is to pay attention to the reviews—you’ll get a sense of your hosts’ capabilities, and it’ll enable you to stay away from the more … ahem … sketchy sites. (Speaking from personal experience, folks—don’t make the same mistake I did.) There’s a price for everyone, and many Hipcamp hosts allow guests to use amenities if they have them, or they provide extra goodies at a small extra cost. Each stay is unique, and it’s a great way to meet people along the way.
Wwoof-ing is an opportunity like no other for travelers who want to experience countries all over the world a little differently than the average Joe. Wwoof (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) connects visitors to farmers in order to “promote a cultural and educational exchange, and build a global community conscious of ecological farming and sustainability practices.”
Live on a farm for a few days, a few weeks, or a few months, exchanging a few hours of labor a day for free board (and meals, though it varies by location). Wwoof-ers can learn new skills, support sustainable practices, meet locals, and build global relationships. There are around 130 countries to choose from and over 12,000 hosts. Wwoof-ing has been on my travel to-do list for a few years now, and it should be on yours too!
Similar to Hipcamp with campsites, Outdoorsy helps travelers rent out RVs of all types for their road trips. The site allows you to sort by area, by type of van, by price, by amenity … basically, you get to find your dream van! The vans range from pricey and, frankly, swanky, to more reasonably priced—I’d say the prices are similar to what a hotel (or motel) stay might cost per night, depending on the location and the fanciness. Over 240 thousand trips have been taken with Outdoorsy, so they’ve really got it down.
Maybe you don’t need an RV for your next trip, but you still might need a car—and we all know how expensive that can be sometimes. Rather than going through the hassle of renting a car at the airport, try Turo! Turo allows travelers to rent out cars in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico from “trusted hosts” that list their own cars. You can even rent out a Tesla! Daily car prices start at just $25 a day, and there are over 5,500 cities to choose from, along with a range of makes and models to fit your traveling needs. And if you need more convincing, well, don’t talk to me—talk to ROAM founder Maryann, who recently used Turo for the first time and loved it!
I don’t think I’m the only one that sometimes misses a more intimate, home cooked–style meal when I’m traveling. (I am not saying that travel food isn’t the best thing ever, you guys … relax! Trust me, I’m a food lover wherever I go). Eat With caters to you, my friends! Browse unique and personal dining experiences in more than 130 countries. Dine with your favorite MasterChef contestants, or take a cooking class in Rome. (Rome!!! What a dream!) The prices really vary with each chef, location, and activity, so be sure to browse around to find the right fit for you.
Look, I’m a college student, and to be honest, I definitely cannot afford these on a regular basis, but I would definitely splurge for one on vacation. Sign up with Eat With for their emails and newsletter or follow @eatwith on Instagram to learn more about what’s offered.
Maybe you feel like enjoying a day off, gazing at a nice view, having a few drinks, lying by the pool, or having a spa day. Well, ResortPass is for you! ResortPass lets travelers (or staycationers) book amenities at hotels, minus the overnight stay. Starting at $25, you can book time in one of 600 hotels in more than 150 cities and 30 states. There are even a few options abroad in Canada, Mexico, Belize, the Carribean, and Panama. Go on, treat yourself—ResortPass won’t break the bank.
Feeling like you could use a dip on a hot summer day? Is it the third day of your family road trip through the desert, and your kids are getting antsy? Use Swimply to book a local pool, wherever you may be. Pools can be rented out on an hourly basis, and the prices vary from $15 to $150 (averaging about $45-$50 an hour). The interface allows you to filter by number of guests, as well as other amenities like a diving board, restrooms, and more. Keep your eye out for Joyspace, an extension of Swimply that features court, gym, and studio rentals coming soon!
Christine Watridge – June 2021
Christine is a college student from the Bay Area who dreams of backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail and visiting all 63 National Parks (15 down!). If she’s not outside, you can find her illustrating, writing, reading a good book or baking focaccia bread.
© ROAM Family Travel 2021 – All rights reserved
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