Every backpacker knows Couchsurfing, Airbnb, TripAdvisor, HostelWorld or Booking.com. But there are many other websites that have the ambition to become the traveler’s best friend!
I decided to start a series of 3 lists of websites and apps. I have grouped them according to their purpose:
- live a 100% local experience
- minimize your budget
- organize your itinerary
To begin, and because the “Backpackers Attitude” is primarily the intention to experience a place “like a local” and meet locals, here is a list of 10 websites (well, actually 11) that will help you to do just that!
1) BE GUIDED BY A LOCAL
With yet a dozen countries, the Vietnamese startup allows locals to show around their city by offering tours and unique experiences. For example, you can go for a Vietnamese tea tasting tour for $ 13, get a walking tour of Hanoi for $ 6 or even get a ride on a motorcycle in Saigon for free. Perfect if you visit Vietnam (other countries available don’t have yet many options)!
For all backpackers who consider that discovering a new destination isn’t complete without experimenting the nightlife (like us), but who do not necessarily know where are the best places in town to party, here is a new startup that can help you make the best of your nights abroad. Locals open the doors of their city: authentic places, little known places, sometimes secret and often hidden. Unique experiences for an evening: outings in trendy bars, concerts, restaurants, private parties, after-work or even surprise parties at a local. Your evenings abroad will never be the same again.
Vayable also offers tours organized by locals, but is more advanced in its development with an impressive number of cities and countries around the world. For example, in Belgium, we found 13 different tours, a visit to the beautiful Brussels by a photographer for $ 78, a discovery and tasting of Belgian chocolate for $ 48 or even an exploration of Ghent (Belgium) with a local for $ 15.
Context Travel offers private guides for small groups (max 6) by experts, in 35 cities in the world. For example, in Rome, you can be guided by archaeologists who excavated in the forum, art historians who taught at local universities or chefs who know everything from burrata to bellone. The tours can be purchased per person or for a total fixed price.
This site offers a slightly different concept: you can choose your local guide with pictures, bios and you can communicate with your guide before you book your round. Prices are per round and not per person, which reduces the cost if you are traveling with a group! The tours are private and personalized.
This startup helps travelers plan their trips based on their interests. It puts you in touch with a local enthusiast who, given your dates and preferences, will plan your days and deliver you a personalized guide / app with daily itineraries! The startup works today with more than 500 experts and is present in 80 countries around the world.
This website also allows you to find tours organized by locals, and to discover the hidden gems that only they know about.
2) STAY with locals
Homestay is positioned somewhere between Airbnb and Couchsurfing, offering a homestay where the local “does more than just hand over keys” and in the same time you get a real room just for you (and not a couch). Prices are similar to those of Airbnb.
Stayzilla is an Indian startup that offers homestays in 4,000 cities in India. Filters are used to select the hosts that meet your preferences and your status (when traveling solo woman, etc.).
3) EAT WITH LOCALs
What’s better to get to know a new culture than sharing a meal with the locals! And in addition, you may well find yourself sharing a dinner with travelers from all over the world. The hosts are professional chefs or sometimes just passionate. On their profile page, you’ll find their menu, the dates of upcoming dinners and feedback from previous guests.