Traveling differently

I was recently approached by a startup company asking me whether I would like to help them promote their new and unique travel concept bringing together locals and travelers. I, having a background in tourism, couldn’t resist not sharing this concept. It’s definitely different and interesting and possibly worth trying out. Read their story for yourself and see whether you’d like to try it out, either as a local offering the service, or a tourist receiving the aforementioned service.

“Local talents

Similar tourist traps and millions of other tourists on your journey, but no local to be found. Sounds familiar? Often when people are traveling abroad, they simply follow their tourism handbook or buy a standard tour at a big travel agency. But all this is so 2012! In the past, the holiday was intended to relax and get rest. In the upcoming years, we want to become global citizens. We want to experience the other cultures and develop ourselves during the trip. Only seeing the popular attractions like the Boudhanath Stupa and Swayambhunath Stupa in Kathmandu are not enough anymore. We are becoming more curious and want to meet the real locals on our trip. How cool would it be if we can just book our local tour guide directly?

article roofs kathmandu1

Withlocals, a new organization, aims to connect travelers and locals directly. They want to facilitate people to be able to use their own knowledge and skills for building a better life. This is done by removing the intervention of big tourism agencies, and providing opportunities to the locals.

article roofs kathmandu3

Now what does this all mean? Basically,  the locals can offer tourists unique experiences, such as a wood carving class, a class on how to milk a cow, a food market tour or a visit to a local school. They can also invite travelers for a dinner at their family’s home and teach them how to prepare local dishes. It would be great if we can just knock on the door of a local to join his family for an authentic dinner. After all, the best cooks in the world are our moms, right? article roofs kathmandu2In this way, tourists get a chance to experience the culture of a city they are visiting from a local perspective. At the same time, the local population receives an honest price for something they do daily, since they can set their own prices for the various tours, activities and home-dinner experiences.

Got enthusiastic? In September, Withlocals will launch in Nepal for a small group of tourists and locals. Check out the website for more information and become part of this new exciting way of travelling.”

*Please be aware that I am in no way associated with this company or their concept. If you have any concerns or inquiries, refer to their website.

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10 thoughts on “Traveling differently

  1. Excellent idea – when I was in Kathmandu recently I was really wondering what the houses and apartments were like inside. The fabrics are all so beautiful, are the houses decorated with these colours or are they just for the tourists?

  2. This is such a great idea and thank you for posting. Nepal needs a lot of good people to get such ideas started where locals get a chance to benefit :). Btw is that you in the picture, you’re so pretty :).

    • Hehehe, that’s not me in the photos. These photos were given to me by the company I am promoting here, so I don’t really know who that is. But I’m sure she’ll be flattered if she sees your comment 🙂

  3. Wow, thanks for sharing this! I wish there were locations in India. We’re living in Madya Pradesh for 9 months and all of our neighborhood friends are giving us top notch local experience. but it would be fun to do the same when we travel around the country. Maybe we’ll try it in Bangkok when we go there for a vacation!

  4. I’m not entirely convinced about “P2P” marketplaces like withlocals (there are many others around or starting to be). First of all they want to pass the idea that …it’s local! But aren’t ordinary travel guides local as well? I don’t get it. It’s not true that this only helps local economy. In fact withlocals doesn’t do this for free but these markets usually take a 10-30% cut (sometimes divided between “provider” and client), almost like an agency does. But unlike a travel agency, it doesn’t take any responsibility on the services sold on its marketplace, moving all the liability…on the locals! I expect these marketplaces to be soon full of the same tour guides offering their services in ordinary travel agencies, just more disorganized and possibly not legal (as it’s the case of many foreigners in Asian countries they can’t be tour guides – besides not giving back to the local native community and hitting …the local tour guides and people working locally in tourism). From the customer side might be exciting, but In the end you’re still paying someone, it’s not that it’s your friends showing around. If you’re looking at that type of approach when visiting a place you’d be better using CouchSurfing (oh well it just turned commercial a couple of years ago) or other hospitality websites, meet true friends that have no other interest of showing you around and talking to you.

    • You are making a very good point, and to some extent I agree with you. I would always be concerned about the quality of such service, and for example hygiene of the food I would be served. But that’s just me. There are lots of people out there who enjoy things like this. When it’s termed as ‘local’ I believe it is mostly referring to services, places, experiences… that are not aimed at tourists or to some extent commercialized. Even though attending a local dance event might bring one closer to a culture he/she is visiting, it’s still a tourist-targeted event. On the other hand, entering someone’s house and eating with the family is a completely different experience. People do say the best way to experience another country is with someone local. However, it’s not for everyone, and while some will enjoy it, others will stick to the usual tour guide services. Which is fine. I believe there is room in the market for both options.

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