Press-Republican

FYI...

September 24, 2013

For travelers, there's a whole new rental world out there

Halil pulled up in front of his apartment complex in San Francisco and turned off the engine. We sat in his car side by side, as if we were on an awkward first date. He asked for my driver's license and snapped a picture of it with his smartphone. I awaited further instructions. None came, so I took the initiative.

"Anything in particular that I need to know?" I asked.

"Fill the car with premium gas," he replied.

"That's it?" I was surprised by his nonchalance.

"Use your common sense," he said, then added, "The passenger door doesn't open from the outside." And here I'd thought that he'd leaned over to open my door because he was being chivalrous.

And that was it: Halil disappeared into his home, and I drove off in his 1995 BMW. His car was now my car; that was the extent of our sharing.

In the sharing community of locals and visitors, what's theirs can nowadays become yours or mine. The grass-roots garden of on-the-go give-and-take is growing wildly, allowing travelers to pluck an assorted bouquet of items to enjoy on their vacations: cars, apartments, meals, bikes, boats, local expertise, even friends and dogs.

The homespun rental services and social swaps are rooted in the neighborly tradition of borrowing a cup of sugar or a rake, if everyone lived in a co-op run by opportunists. In many cases, the purveyors want to make a buck off their surplus goods, but they often charge fewer clams than traditional suppliers. Sharing arrangements also foster unique opportunities and interactions that you'd probably never have with, say, the agent.

To experience the sharing universe, I assembled a trip to San Francisco based primarily on these outliers. I wasn't a purist: I flew commercial air across the country instead of hitching a ride through Craigslist or RideBoard.com (Michael: "57 year old and friendly mellow dog driving Route 80. Share driving, gas and hotel room").

1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Text Only | Photo Reprints
FYI...
  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 24, 2014

  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Teens trading naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 22, 2014

  • Boston doctors can now prescribe you a bike

    The City of Boston this week is rolling out a new program that's whimsically known as "Prescribe-a-Bike." Part medicine, part welfare, the initiative allows doctors at Boston Medical Center to write "prescriptions" for low-income patients to get yearlong memberships to Hubway, the city's bike-share system, for only $5.

    April 21, 2014

  • Why Facebook is getting into the banking game

    Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.

    April 19, 2014

  • DayCareCosts.jpg Day care's cost can exceed college tuition in some states

    Most parents will deal with an even larger kid-related expense long before college, and it's a cost that very few of them are as prepared for: day care.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Millions of Android phones, tablets vulnerable to Heartbleed bug

    Millions of smartphones and tablets running Google's Android operating system have the Heartbleed software bug, in a sign of how broadly the flaw extends beyond the Web and into consumer devices.

    April 17, 2014

  • Stepping forward: The real Colbert

    Letterman changed the late-night TV game between his run on NBC's "Late Night" and starting the "Late Show" franchise in 1993. And while it's tough to replace a pop-culture icon, Colbert, in terms of pedigree and sense of humor, makes the most sense.

    April 16, 2014

  • news_twitter.jpg Travelers fly on Air Twitter

    The enlightened age of social media has dawned over the airline industry, casting shadows over telephone call centers and on-site agents. Facebook and Twitter are racking up the friends and followers while the hold music plays on.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 297px-Starbucks_Corporation_Logo_2011.svg.png Why Starbucks won't recycle your paper coffee cup

    When you drop that used white paper cup into the bin next to the door at a Starbucks, have you done your part to save the planet? Starbucks has long hoped that you would think so. After all, there's no better way to attract an affluent, eco-conscious clientele than to convince customers that your disposable product is "renewable."

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

Videos: Editor Picks