I’m not the best guy when it comes to planning my trips especially when they’re overseas. I usually have very reliable friends who make all the research about places to go, things to do, and food to eat. Only requirement for me is that it should be budget-friendly. I don’t know if this makes me sound like a total prick but I’ve tried planning my itineraries and they don’t come out as nice. Or maybe it’s just not my thing.
So imagine during my 9-month backpacking trip when I had to travel solo in other countries. Most of the time I only stayed inside the hostel and went out only to buy food. There were moments that I’d push myself to get out of the hostel and interact with people just so I can experience the culture of a destination.
I didn’t want to pay tour companies a pricey amount simply because I couldn’t afford them. But there were moments when I’d mingle with locals in the area and have conversations over noodles or fruit shakes; or even greeting with a simple “Hi!” while biking on the streets. Sometimes with a thick face, I’d ask if I can go inside their house because I wanted to see how it would look like. I’d offer a small tip as a token for the agreement. These moments make travelling more worthwhile for me because I get to talk to the locals and see life through their eyes.
Withlocals.com Concept: How it Works
There are plenty of tourists who go out of their way to experience the culture of a certain country and Withlocals.com provides that opportunity for people in a destination to share what they have to these travellers. Instead of hiring a tour company, you can hire a local!
Basically, a local is the “host” and the tourist is the “guest”. The host offers a service (touring the guest, preparing traditional food and delicacies, teaching a skill) and posts their profile online. A Guest who wants to try the service will pay for it online and meet with the host according to the agreed schedule.
Meet-up with Strangers and Security concerns
I did a bit of browsing on the website and found out that Withlocals have ambassadors that will authenticate the the host as well as take photos of the tour, service, or package being offered. So nobody can just set up a bogus account without verification. This somehow minimizes inhibitions that comes with meeting strangers on the road. It’s always better to be safe!
Instead of paying tour companies that hire tour guides, you can directly search for actual locals who are also experts in the area.
This is great for travellers who have more time to spare. I’m not saying that tour companies are bad, I myself would hire one for convenience (and if I’d have more money). However, if you’re looking for an alternative, then this is something you can consider.
Business and Cause
I’m happy that more business startup companies like Withlocals are set up as it not only promotes tourism, but also helps foster a community. They have a great cause.
On an economic standpoint, I like that it acts as a platform for individuals to develop a business mindset and empower them to earn extra income. In turn, clients who take advantage of these services/packages will get their money’s worth because they’re paying actual locals.
Eat, Tour, Do Activities with a Local
Based on their site, they don’t have hosts in the Philippines yet, but I’m sure that it’s on the works. I can’t wait to tell my travel blogger friends who want to earn extra income to sign up as hosts as they can surely benefit from this concept.
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soloflightEd.com is a travel blog by Edcel Suyo. He enjoys performing headstands and crazy stunts during his trips in the Philippines, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Now based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and working to earn a living, he takes time to enjoy the city and travel during weekends.
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