This is a summary post on what I learned about saving money using the sharing economy for travel from my recent month long trip to Spain. You can read all the posts from Spain here.
I stayed in six cities in Spain and visited a few more on day trips. Through it all I paid almost nothing for lodging, not much for transportation, and relatively little for food and entertainment (actual expenses reported below). Of course the latter two items are largely up to the traveler, but my lodging choice to primarily use home exchanges enabled a lot more eating in than would have been possible staying in hotels.
Top 4 lessons from my trip
1. Home exchange. Do them. House swapping is pretty popular in Spain and you can find lots of people across the country offering up their homes for swap. Your biggest travel expense is often lodging. Why not get your lodging for free and enjoy the comforts of home? Check out my overview of why you should try a home exchange.
2. Ridesharing. Hands down the best way to get around Spain. Blablacar is my favorite, and the most used in Spain. You can find rides to and from most places on most days. Plan a few days ahead or book last minute. If you don’t see the ride you want, set an alert and they’ll tell you when people post what you are looking for. You’ll meet interesting people, save lots of money, and usually save time on your travel (unless you want to shell out the big bucks for flying or the high speed train, then driving will never save you time). I’ve written a lot about Blablacar and ridesharing if you want to read more on this.
3. Peer to peer travel experiences. Consider this alternative to bigger tour companies. You’ll get a local perspective and some alternatives to the well beaten tourist path. Trip4Real is the main player here, but Vayable also has a lot of offerings in Spain. Check out my overview of peer to peer tour guides and my list of companies in this space.
4. Crowd-sourced delivery. Make some money or earn other rewards, or just help someone out, by using that extra space in your luggage to deliver something to your destination. Here’s an overview of peer to peer delivery.
For people interested in the details, here’s how my expenses broke out. Unfortunately I didn’t track my spending closely so I’m figuring this out based on credit card bills and ATM withdrawals. Totals are accurate but amounts within categories, especially between entertainment and food, might be off. All numbers below are for one person, but you can double them (for the most part) to get what we spent as a couple.
My only expense here was the fee paid to the home exchange websites for their insurance services.
This includes the fees on the flight to Spain using miles, the flight from Bilbao to Sevilla, one long train trip, a few shorter train trips, various metro tickets, and a number of rideshares.
Here I have a lot of tickets to museums, palaces and churches and a flamenco show. I’m probably on the cheap side when it comes to paying for entertainment because I’m so entertained by just wandering the streets of anywhere I’m visiting. Also food is one of my favorite entertainments (see below).
Groceries and the more expensive restaurants are in here.
This is the cash that I took out from ATMs that I can’t account for directly above. Most of this was for coffee, drinks, and meals at places that didn’t take credit cards. There is a small amount of non-food entertainment in here, and I also bought some gifts with this cash.
Total cost: $1161.71
Subtracting out my typical food/transportation expenses for a month at home, my total net cost for this trip was: $661.71. Probably a little less because I’d definitely eat out and spend money on some entertainment at home.
A month of travel through Spain for just over $500 is a pretty good deal. And using the resources available on my website, along with a few others devoted to airline miles, anyone could do this.