MY MONEY

How the share economy can save you money on travel

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One of the biggest things in travel these days is the explosion of websites that facilitate renting a room in someone's house or apartment, or even the whole place, at affordable rates.

The host makes a little money; the renter gets a great deal in a location closer to real life than your average hotel.

A couple of years ago my wife and I did a deal through the first of the websites, airbnb.com, in New York's classy upper west side.

The cheerful owner, an opera chorus singer, moved to his parents' place and we moved into his tiny apartment with fold-down bed. We met him at his place, handed over the cash and all went well.

airbnb

Since then the number of websites has grown to include HouseTrip, HomeAway, travelmob and others.

There are many happy repeat users and hosts, but there have been problems with local law makers about sub-letting, and with some renters' bad behaviour.

Travelmob (a newcomer specialising in Asia Pacific destinations which recently joined with well-established HomeAway) includes on its website "safety tips" for both guests and hosts.

It tells guests a good host will provide exhaustive details of their listings.

Reviews by previous guests should be available.

It's now customary for the facilitating website to hold on to your payment until 24 hours after you check in.

With so many people becoming hosts all over the world there are plenty of tips for you too, like supplying accurate descriptions of your place and any house rules, and seeking helpful profiles from your guests.

Don't forget to check your insurance needs and any possible legal restrictions.

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Jim Craigie is Money's travel writer.
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