The sharing economy has spawned hundreds of websites all offering new methods for trading, bartering, renting, teaching, learning, riding, biking — you name it. With Facebook and Twitter you get a headstart on who you’re dealing with beforehand, making it more fun (and less awkward). Many of these sites are benefitting local communities, local commerce and all the while decreasing resource consumption.   

This holiday season try out some alternatives to the usual. I guarantee you’ll learn, think and laugh your way into 2013 with a little bit of extra cash in your pocket. Some of these also make great alternatives to traditional gift ideas!

1.) TaskRabbit: This year, Santa’s little helpers have a new look. Better known as Task Rabbits, these individuals can be hired to perform last minute shopping, gift wrapping, decorating or help around the kitchen.  According to their website, “each TaskRabbit goes through a multi-step vetting process that includes an application, video interview, federal and local criminal background check, and training session.” It’s safe to say even Santa’s reindeer won’t be inspected so thoroughly this year.

2.) FlipKey, Roomorama, Homeaway, Wimdu, Couchsurfing: No need to stay with the in-laws this year with plenty of nice places right down the street and probably for half the cost (in more ways than one). Although you’ve probably heard of the largest of these sites, Airbnb, apartment rental is a great alternative to an expensive hotel. If your options are slim, I recommend checking a few of the sites listed above. If you’re an entrepreneur, be sure to check out Startup Stay and stay with other startup founders (still in beta but a great concept). Going abroad? Try OneFineStay or my friends at Bedycasa.

3.) PiggyBee: A great way to deliver a holiday gift to your sister studying Yoga in Thailand or that buddy who’s been “studying abroad” for 8 years in Amsterdam.  In exchange for delivering items, PiggyBee offers individual travelers the opportunity to trade for accommodation, city tours, tips, dinner, drinks, transportation, airport pickup/drop-off and invites to parties/events as rewards.

4.) If you’re a frequent reader of Shareable, odds are you heard about yerdle’s launch on Black Friday encouraging sharing over shopping. Yerdle offers the opportunity to post items you don’t need anymore or “nab” the things you do.   

I asked co-founder, Adam Werbach, some fun ways we could use yerdle this holiday season. “It’s time to reclaim regifting,” he said, “you probably have things that you got last year for the holidays that have been taking up space and gathering dust. Post them on yerdle and see if you can create some joy for someone who really wanted that sweater.  Chances are the person who gave you that gift would rather it be enjoyed.”

5.) GrubWithUs: A small portion of you might end up stuck in a snowstorm at O’Hare or have a boss that doesn’t believe in “days off,” but you don’t have to be alone. GrubWithUs offers the opportunity to discover meals in different cities at cool, fun restaurants (and more importantly with cool, fun people). About 6 people attend different themed dinners to suit similar interests, and no you don’t have to wear a nametag.

6.) Skillshare: Remember in 2006 when you were going to learn Italian? Then in 2009, you said you’d start playing guitar, oh 2010 was the year!  We all make excuses but it’s a lot harder when your guitar teacher is your neighbor down the street. Hopefully you’ll have some time off this holiday season, why not sign up for a class to bring in 2013? (remember: learning, thinking, laughing!)   

7.) Rover: In the classic Christmas movie, Home Alone, 8 year old Kevin McCallister gets left behind on the family’s holiday trip to Europe (and then it happened like 3 more times).

Sometimes we don’t have a choice and have to leave little Fido behind, Rover.com offers a quick and convenient way to skip pet kennel fees and avoid burdening your friends during the holidays. Don’t worry, I’m sure your dog won’t miss the treadmills and aromatherapy at doggie daycare.

8.) Parking: Welcome to the Big Apple, now good luck finding a parking spot! I wouldn’t necessarily trust Gianni in Little Italy for my parking advice, instead I would head to Parkatmyhouse, ParkingPanda, ParkingSpotter, Uniiverse or try Spothero in Chicago.

9.) Liquidspace, ShareDesk and WorkSnug: If you’re stuck somewhere without Wifi (what?) or you just need some peace and quiet from the kiddies, search and find a desk or shared office nearby. Don’t worry Starbucks won’t revoke that hard earned gold card!

10.) City tour guides at Vayable, SideTour and HipHost: For those opting out of the family visit this year, take a guided tour from a local no matter where you end up.  It’s even fun to do even in your own city!

11.) Kitchensurfing or Feastly: So you’ve accepted the fact that you can throw one hell of a party, but you still lack skills in the kitchen.  Why not take your event to the next level and hire a professional? These sites offer chefs to hire for private parties, cool right?  

12.) In town without a car? Find a ride with someone heading your way! There are a lot of ride-share companies out there, but try RidePost, Zimride (Lyft), JoyRide (beta) or Avego.

Also consider renting your neighbors car by the hour/day/week using sites like RelayRides, Getaround and Wheelz!

This is a fast growing space and I know I’ve left some great websites off of this list! If you have suggestions please add them to the comments below or share some of the experiences you’ve had using them!




founder @trablr, #collcons enthusiast, spend my time (and money) traveling. You'll find me in Chicago-SF-OC -or- www.trablr.com -or- @1871Chicago

Things I share: trablr lets you seach, plan and book your entire trip using only collcons, sharing peer-to-peer websites.