Using the shared economy is becoming more prevalent for domestic and international travel. All aspects of travel entail some degree of risk, to include using traditional and shared economy lodging and transportation. International Safety and Security does not endorse using shared economy resources; the decision to do so is a personal or programmatic decision. Before arrangements are made, travelers should conduct extensive research for themselves and make informed decisions.
The following tips and considerations are provided for informational purposes.
All Shared Economy Services
- Research local laws and licensing related to shared economy services. Some categories of shared economy services may be illegal in a country (rideshare and/or accommodation). Even if legal, some companies may not be licensed or may be specifically outlawed but still operating in the country. Avoid those companies.
- Understand how traditional providers view shared economy providers and users. For example, there have been violent confrontations between taxi and rideshare drivers in several countries.
- Research company policies related to verification of service provider identify and vehicles or accommodations before being listed, the process to arrange or “book” services, company insurance if something happens, and how to resolve issues, especially related to payment or reimbursement. Make sure you understand the “terms” of usage agreements.
- Make all payments through the company’s system in accordance with established processes. Never pay a provider directly; if you do so, you likely lose any protection from the company. Be wary of providers urging you to pay them directly.
- Conduct all communications through the company system, so the company has a record of the communications. This further protects you and the provider. Be wary of providers urging you to communicate directly.
- Contact the company immediately when something is wrong. Document bad experiences and ensure you communicate with the company; leave appropriate reviews to inform others.
- Identify potential substitute accommodations before travel. If you arrive and find that you have been scammed or the property was misrepresented and unsafe, know where to find local accommodations.
- If you feel insecure for any reason—health, safety, or security—do not remain in the accommodations.
- Some platforms offer additional information to assist with your rental (photographs, location, reviews, ratings and amenities). Carefully review all the information that is available.
- Understand the cost for your stay and the payment process. Some services allow higher costs during peak season, but listed rates may reflect the low season. Review additional fees that may be added to the rental.
- Carefully research cancellation fees and ask questions before making reservations if you do not understand the fees or process.
- Verify if additional rooms will be rented out and options to ensure your physical privacy and security during your stay.
- Research the neighborhood to understand where the accommodation is located and what amenities or potential trouble spots are nearby.
- Review the reviews closely. Look for comments related to things that are most important to you, such as cleanliness, safety, owner responsiveness, and the accuracy of the listing.
- Remember you get what you pay for—if an accommodation looks too good to be true at the advertised price, research it carefully, especially the reviews.
- Once you have narrowed the list, search other rental sites for additional information and reviews on that property. Properties are seldom advertised on only one site.
- Make sure you have the host’s phone number in case of emergency or changed travel plans during travel.
- Never take a ride if you are uncomfortable with the driver or vehicle. Your safety comes first. Always trust your instincts.
- Arrange for pickup in a public location. Some services allow you to share your plans with contacts; if so, let others know your arrangements.
- Take advantage of safety features that allow you to identify the driver and vehicle before arrival. Verify that information when the vehicle arrives (license plate, type of vehicle). If available, track vehicle progress and estimated arrival to your location.
- While driving to your location, monitor the route that is being taken against the suggested route.
- Understand how insurance works if you are injured. Are you covered by the company or by the driver’s insurance?