Vacation season opportunities, from pet-sitting to pool sharing
Whether you’re looking for work or respite from work, more than a dozen online platforms can help you save money or side hustle your way through vacation season. Opportunities involve renting property, such as houses and cars, to or from other people and offering services to travelers.
Whether you can take advantage of all or just a few of these vacation season side hustle and savings ideas will depend on your preferences and situation. To make money with some vacation side hustles, you’d need a home, car, pool, watercraft or an RV to rent out.
Or you’d have to be a great cook, or an extrovert willing to shuttle tourists around your city.
However, if your goal is simply to save money while vacationing, your choices are simpler. You can save thousands on accommodations and cars, for instance. But you’d need to shop around a bit and be willing to feed a few pets or water plants.
What are your options?
By now, pretty much everyone knows that they can find a house rental — or rent out a house — through Airbnb. But travelers and homeowners may have better opportunities during vacation season, particularly if they have pets.
An array of house-sitting sites offer free accommodations to travelers in exchange for watering plants and feeding pets. You can sign up to both find free accommodations for your trip and offer up accommodations in exchange for watching your pets. Given that the typical Rover sitter asks between $25 and $75 per night, this can save travelers a small fortune.
The largest of the house-sitting sites is TrustedHousesitters. However, it’s also the most expensive to sign up for. The site charges $129 annually if you want to list your house for house- and pet-sitting and $189 if you also want to find a house to sit.
That’s about what you’d pay to have your pet boarded for a long weekend, or roughly the cost of a night’s stay in an Airbnb. It’s still a bargain no matter whether you need a pet sitter or a house to stay in. Membership also includes access to veterinary help for house sitters. So it’s a good choice for those who want someone to watch their older and medically fragile pets.
Other sites worth considering: Nomador, HouseCarers and House Sitters America, which are less expensive but appear to have fewer homes and available sitters too.
If you have a spare car, you can rent it out to tourists through a site called Turo. Turo has a dynamic pricing tool that can help owners figure out what other people charge for similar rentals in the area. Vehicle owners are encouraged to charge less than they’d pay at a major rental company, such as Hertz or Avis. That can make Turo rentals a bargain for travelers. However, at a time when car rentals are dear, the site also provides generous returns for car owners. And vehicle owners make the final decision about what to charge.
Another site called Avail also markets itself as a way to allow travelers to rent out their vehicles when they’re out of town. Their pitch: If you’re leaving town, they’ll park your car for free, wash it, and, if they rent it out, you’ll get between $20 and $25 a day. However, the site’s terms put your car at risk. And many users say its insurance is shoddy. Our view: Don’t risk an asset worth thousands for a pittance.
Got a swimming pool? You can rent it out through a site called Swimply. With Swimply, you set the rates, rules and schedule. You can also determine whether you’re willing to give swimmers access to your house, restrooms and/or barbecue. Pools commonly rent for $50 or more per hour and you can charge extra for additional services or large groups.
Families rediscovered camping road trips during the pandemic, making RV vacations a hot commodity. If you own an RV or camper, renting it out when you’re not using it can be lucrative.
If your idea of a good time is loading up a shopping card and swiping your credit card, there are plenty of ways to get paid for it — although the pay isn’t great.
Several sites, including Outdoorsy and RVShare, can help find renters. They’re also go-to sites for vacationers looking for an RV, van or camper rental.
From the standpoint of an RV owner, these sites allow you to set your own rates and rental terms — whether you allow smoking, pets, cross-border rentals, high-mileage trips, etc. The site deducts a 20% to 25% commission for finding renters and collecting payment on your behalf.
Meanwhile, renters can often find tricked-out rigs, loaded with amenities, for roughly the same amount they’d pay to a commercial RV rental shop, or less. And basics, like dishes, towels and mixing bowls, which cost extra with many commercial RV rentals, are often included in peer-to-peer rentals.
Boats and watercraft
There are also a number of peer-to-peer rental sites for boats and watercraft, ranging from yachts to kayaks. For boat owners, sites like BoatSetter and RentMyBoat can defray the high costs of slip fees and maintenance. Like the RV rental sites, you set your own rates and terms and can even insist on serving as the ship’s captain, if you don’t trust weekend sailors to keep your boat safe. And, for renters, peer-to-peer boat rental sites offer a variety of rentals, often at relatively bargain prices.
Other vacation season opportunities involve offering guided tours to travelers. Several sites, including Viator and WithLocals, allow freelancers to create adventures for tourists. You decide the destination and itinerary, price, passenger capacity and when to offer your tours. The sites connect you with tourists and collect payment in exchange for a commission or a mark-up on your bookings.
If you love entertaining guests in your home, you can make money during vacation season by offering your home-cooked meals on EatWith.
Eatwith is an international site that encourages local chefs to create culinary experiences to be shared with tourists and locals looking for unique ideas for a night out.
Chefs determine the menu, schedule, number of guests they can accommodate and the price. The site adds a commission onto your price to pay for marketing your meals and collecting payment. Since these are meant to be elegant experiences, prices are often set between $50 and $150 per plate, easily generating revenue of $250 to $1,000 for a full table event.
Kristof is the editor of SideHusl.com, an independent website that reviews moneymaking opportunities in the gig economy.