Summer Travel Tips for Using the Sharing Economy

Vacation home rental services like Airbnb and ridesharing apps, including Uber, have made traveling easier and more affordable than ever before. As Memorial Day and the start of the summer season quickly approaches, Consumers’ Research has released some important tips for consumers to consider when using these services to help ensure a fun, safe and affordable summer.

“While technology is making emerging travel and payment services easier and more affordable than ever before, there are still some growing pains associated with their use,” said Kyle Burgess, Executive Director, Consumers’ Research. “Before hitting the road this summer, we encourage all consumers to take some time to understand how these applications work to help avoid confusion and surprises while away from home.”

  • Know the House Rules: Vacation home rental services like Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway allow consumers to book unique accommodations in areas often not served by hotels, often at affordable rates. However, these sites often include an array of rules and extra charges, so it is important for consumers to understand them. Before booking, verify if there are additional cleaning fees, charges for extra guests, local taxes on top of the nightly rate, or other house rules, such as cancellation or pet policies. It’s also helpful to know what amenities are included, such as air conditioning, toiletries, and linens and towels.
  • Don’t Get Stranded with Ridesharing Apps: Ridesharing apps such as Uber and Lyft can make getting around vacation destinations easier and more affordable. Consumers should keep in mind, however, that ridesharing services may not be legal or available where they’re going, and passengers should do their due diligence before booking a ride by checking ridesharing sites to see where they operate. Also, consumers should be aware that rates tend to be higher in popular tourist destinations than in their hometowns.
  • Test Drive Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing: If consumers wish to rent a car at their vacation destination, they now have more options than traditional or airport rental companies. Services like Turo and GetAround allow peer-to-peer car sharing – they are like the Airbnb of cars, allowing vacationers to get an interesting or atypical car, often at prices well below what traditional rental services offer. But consumers should be aware that these newer businesses are still working out the kinks. Renters looking to take advantage of these travel options should first verify insurance coverage and prepare for customer service hiccups as these companies refine their offerings.
  • Share the Costs, Share the Fun: Vacationers who want to split the costs of summer fun with their friends can use payment apps, such as Venmo and Circle, to make that process quick and convenient. Users can share the costs of hotels, car rentals, supplies for a barbecue, and other vacation expenses.
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