How travellers can benefit from shared economy services

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Few recent trends have revolutionized the way people travel more than the ‘sharing economy’. This concept, where individuals provide and share access to goods and services, is usually facilitated by a community-based online platform.

In the case of travel, there are innumerable sharing economy apps and sharing economy travel sites that include options for accommodation, transportation and even dining options. And, just like there are a huge number of ways to participate in it, there are lots of sharing economy pros and cons. Here are five tips to help navigate safely through the options when travelling or planning a trip.

One of the top ways to maximize the experience and stay in budget is to find a holiday rental via a sharing economy platform. These include but are not limited to VRBOAirbnbLoveHomeSwapHomestay and Couchsurfing*. These accommodation options offer a price point for all budgets ranging from rustic to royal and typically enable self-catering which will save money. But, be sure to do your research and know what you are agreeing to. Read reviews and the “House Rules” fine print, listen to recommendations from friends and be flexible. And be clear on cancellation policies—particularly if you are renting from an unregulated source such as family, friends, Kijiji or Craigslist. This is because not all travel insurance plans will cover sharing economy accommodations. Those that do may have certain requirements for your accommodation to qualify as an eligible expense. Therefore, be sure to double check your travel insurance policy when purchasing to ensure your sharing economy accommodations will be covered should you need to unexpectedly cancel your trip for a covered reason.
So many great options—UberLyftBlaBlaCarCar2Go*. The list goes on and on and the choice is yours: drive or be driven. In order to make the most of these options be clear on the fees and be comfortable travelling in less regulated vehicles. If you are unsure about things, stick to renting from licensed car rental agencies versus car shares or private rentals. Travel insurance provided by Allianz Global Assistance does not provide auto coverage. However, we can assist you to return your vehicle to its place of origin in case you got yourself in the midst of a medical emergency, and because of it, you are unable to do so.
What better way to see a city than from two wheels? More and more cities offer bicycles and self-balancing scooters to get between the sites more quickly. As with any activity there is an inherent risk, so know before you go. Get familiar with the emergency health and medical benefits within your travel insurance policy in case you hit the pavement while gawking at Barcelona’s architecture.
One of the key sharing economy travel trends revolves around budget. People are able to self-cater, share rides and so much more than when they were limited to big hotels and a few rental car companies. Today, there is greater potential for some trip savings for your accommodations and transportation. But as always: caveat emptor. Be sure to read all the fine print when dealing in the sharing economy—is there a hidden cleaning fee that gets charged after you vacate? Are you responsible for the repairs if a bicycle tire goes flat? Savvy travellers do their research and read reviews before diving in.
When travelling you always need to keep your eyes open and be extra vigilant with yourself and your belongings. Some aspects of the sharing economy may leave you more vulnerable than traditional travel options so read reviews and listen to fellow travellers about additional safety measures you may want to take. The sharing economy is lightly regulated, so you’ll need to pay attention. And, for all those unexpected hiccups, protect yourself with a travel insurance plan offered by Allianz Global Assistance that includes Medical and Cancellation coverage. Insurance is one thing you don’t want to skip on in the sharing economy but. always make sure to read your travel insurance policy and understand what is covered and what is not to not be caught off guard when you need it.
*The inclusion of popular sharing economy platforms in this article is not intended as an endorsement by Allianz Global Assistance.
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