CouchSurfing For Cars

Editor's note: RelayRides is no longer available.

You've done it! You've got your bike/bus/feet/scooter/raft/covered wagon/whatever, and you're traveling the U.S. A personal four wheels and motor be damned—you don't need it! Until suddenly, for whatever reason, you do.

Enter RelayRides. A cousin of CouchSurfing and Spinlister in theory, RelayRides is a free service that connects those in need of a car with those who are willing to rent out their car—for a price. It works like this: Car owners sign up, and set a daily rate for renting their car. Those in need of a car also sign up, are put through a screening process, and are then able to peruse available vehicles—eventually asking the renter if they would be so kind as to let them rent out their available car. Renters are required to fill up the gas tank before returning the car, and both renters and owners are subject to reviews from those who they've interacted with—making good behavior beneficial for both parties.

Even better, RelayRides provides both renters and owners with insurance, roadside assistance and customer support, and the company handles the billing. Plus, for travelers, opting for RelayRides over a traditional rental car agency can be a big cash saver—with cars in some areas being a mere $30/day (though in trolling the site, I've seen a few $180/day Mercedes, if you need to cruise in style). And owners rake in a little extra dough. 

So pack up that bike, load up that raft and attach the mules to the covered wagon and go explore—knowing that if you really need one, a car can be just a click away.