Have any remaining travel plans before the end of the summer? You may have noticed that with gas prices and airfare on the rise, travel can be quite expensive. I’ve written previously about using ride sharing services like Uber or Lyft to save on short distance trips but the same sharing concept can be applied to longer, overnight trips with services like Airbnb.

I used Airbnb twice this year. The first was during a trip to visit some friends in Miami Beach in February. As you can imagine, Miami Beach was quite a popular location at that time of year, especially with the brutal temperatures this winter. I couldn’t stay with my friends since they were living in a small boat and hotel prices in the area were astronomically high so I decided to give this sharing site a try.

I ended up choosing to stay in the apartment of a middle-aged woman named Jackie who rented her bedroom to me for 5 nights for a total of  $330 or just $66 a night. She was in the apartment but slept in another room so I had the bedroom all to myself. The bedroom was large, had air conditioning, and was in a location close to the beach and a bus line. Yeah, I had to share the apartment with someone else but when you’re in Miami Beach, you only really need a place to sleep and shower. For $66 a night, it really couldn’t be beat and she was available to answer questions about the area.

More recently, I spent a weekend in LA with my girlfriend and another couple. We decided to share a 2 BR/2 BA apartment that was listed on Airbnb for $150 a night total. Unlike my last experience, we had the entire apartment to ourselves. It was in a great location in West LA, the complex had a swimming pool and a hot tub (which we took advantage of), and the apartment itself was large, immaculately clean, and had one of the biggest screen TVs I’ve ever seen. Upon our arrival, we were greeted with what my girlfriend/personal wine adviser (doesn’t everyone need one of those) identified as a decent bottle of wine. How many hotels offer you all that for $75 a night?  (I did get a free glass of not-as-decent wine from a really nice hotel once but that was only after they made us wait in live forever during check-in.)

I have to admit that the concept of staying in a stranger’s home seemed… strange to me and I was a bit reluctant at first. But when the options came down to that, staying in a really cheap motel in the middle of nowhere, or paying up the wazoo, I figured I could give it a try. (Just be sure to read reviews on the site before you choose a place as the quality of experiences can vary greatly.)

How about you? Do you have any experience with Airbnb or similar sites? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.