I know I’ve said it a million times… having a local show you around is the best way to experience a foreign culture. I’ve recently come across a site that connects travelers with helpful locals—Tripping.com. While still in its (relative) infancy, Tripping looks like an amazing resource for travelers that don’t want to be tourists. Tripping works on the same basic principle as CouchSurfing (getting a free place to sleep, etc) but it really differentiates itself by utilizing better technology and safety measures. And best of all, its free.
The Big Idea
The idea is simple—connect travelers with locals. In general, the hosts open their homes/couches/extra beds to travelers for free. Since the idea behind this network is to connect with other people, the host will often take the guests to their favorite bars, restaurants and hangouts. Or sometimes they’ll all cook a meal together. Regardless of the activities, it is a great way to experience another culture.
How Tripper Stands Out From The Rest
The idea behind Tripping isn’t vastly different than sites like CouchSurfing but the real improvements come from the site’s user-friendly functionality. It has a lot of really nice features that make it much easier and safer to connect with people.
Focus on Safety — Naturally, safety is a big concern when it comes to meeting strangers online. The hosts have the option of becoming verified. This means that they are required to prove to be who they claim to be. They have to do a web-cam video chat with Tripping staff members and they have to show their passport on screen and something to verify their address. There is also a rating and feedback system so you can read the reviews of past travelers. If things get really bad, Tripping also provides an emergency contact for travelers who find themselves in dangerous situations.
Slick Contact System — Tripping has a nice built-in contact system and scheduling calendar to help you keep track of all your dates. This functionality is something other hospitality sites really lack but it is such a great feature. It is good for hosts because it allows them to stay organized and it is good for travelers because it helps cut down on the chance that the host will forget about your arrival. On other sites this is all done by email so there is often a lot of confusion and mistakes.
Ease of Use — The site is easy to use and it has a lot of nice search functions. I really like how you can search by the host’s availability. This is a huge improvement over other sites because I spent a of time getting rejections on CouchSurfing because of schedule conflicts. The site is also uncluttered and easy to navigate.
The only real downside to Tripping is its relatively small user base. This might make it a little tough to find a host but on the positive site, it also probably means that the hosts are more active in the community. It currently has a few thousand members but it is steadily growing. Once the word starts to spread, I think the site will be a great resource for the budget traveler.
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