Want a trip that’s completely do-it-yourself? Travel writer Melanie Lieberman reveals the best ways to stay, fly, drive and dine with peer-to-peer programs.
Gone are the days of calling your reliable (if somewhat-bland) hotel chain of choice to book a room and boarding a crowded, underserved airplane. Now, you can explore a city in the exact car of your choosing and even journey to an exotic destination without relying on a travel agent to coordinate your excursions and reservations.
Travel is tipping toward the do-it-yourself: favoring unique, peer-to-peer services rather than the brand-made itinerary. A handful of new apps and websites are culling local insight and pioneering collaborative services to reclaim the travel industry from major corporations.
AirBnb is the short-term rental service connecting travelers with privately-owned vacation rentals worldwide. This company disrupted the holiday rental industry by focusing on urban markets and emphasizing owner-driven hospitality. Rent a palatial oceanfront villa, or a single-bedroom in a downtown apartment. Wherever you go, it’s the insight of your hosts you can’t miss: tap owners for insider tips and directions to their favorite haunts.
Tasting local flavors is key to sampling a foreign city. While Zagat-rated restaurants may come with superior service and extensive menus, much can be gained from a conversation with the native Portuguese chef who served you home-baked maize bread in their home. More than 150 cities, from London to Ljubljana, are now hosting the food community known as EatWith, which connects home cooks with traveling gourmands.
Skip the airport security line and forgo your bag of broken pretzels for a flight on a luxury private jet. Plush, four-seat Phenoms and six-seat Citation CJ3’s seeking to fill empty legs of a journey post available spots on JetSuite’s site. Tickets, per person, can be well under $200. Split the cost with friends for the best deals, and take full advantage of the national flight service leading a new frontier in egalitarian travel.
Expensive cars with limited specifications have become the four-wheeled faces of car rental agencies worldwide. With the advent of RelayRides, travelers can now select the exact make and model they’d like to drive for the duration of their trip. The exchange comes with many benefits: car-owners can profit off of unused vehicles, and renters enjoy extremely affordable rates and convenient car delivery.