Three Travel Websites – A Boon for the Independent Traveler

By Lakshmi:

We were sitting around after dinner last night and the conversation veered to what our passions were outside our day jobs.  And everyone unanimously agreed that mine was travel.  I love to read travel magazines, newspapers, websites, tweets and track deals.  And when an article appears that caters to my sweet spot of technology meeting a much desired need or solving a travel problem, I am fixated.  And today’s NY Times article on three companies that offer offbeat tours was just a treasure trove of what the independent traveler yearns for.

The breed that we identify as independent travelers typically doesn’t like package tours.  We want to explore.  We don’t want to be just tourists, we want to dive into new experiences.  We don’t want to just take pictures around historic landmarks, we want to know interesting nuances from history that shaped a place or culture.

And these companies seem to be the perfect answer to the independent traveler’s needs.  I will disclose right away that before today I knew nothing about these companies, but I am positive that going forward I will experience each of these companies’ offerings.

In a nutshell, what each of these companies has set up is a network of locals who live and breathe a place, who know about its nuances, have years of experience in the history, can show you how to cook local specialties, etc who have signed up for a fee to be your private tour guide in their city for a specific activity.  Here’s a list of things that completely got me hooked and dreaming.

– Tour the red light district in Amsterdam with a former police officer

– Spend a day with a local in Istanbul, eating your way through town

– Spend two hours in London taking watercolor lessons

– Go on a running tour of Rome

And the list goes on…….and it is not expensive!

I cannot begin to count the number of times I have been in a place and said, “Wouldn’t it be perfect if I could have a local help ………….”  While I did see a number of high-end tours do precisely that, I did not see this need being met for the regular traveler who wants more.  And now we have not one, but four companies, some funded by some pretty heavy weight celebrities on this bandwagon.

So, without more verbiage from me, here are the sites to check out:

www.canaryhop.com

www.sidetour.com

www.vayable.com

To read the NY Times article that brought these sites to my attention, click here:

http://travel.nytimes.com/2012/07/08/travel/click-here-for-an-offbeat-experience.html?pagewanted=all

And since we have not experienced any of them yet, if you have, we would love to hear about your experiences.

Here’s to happy local exploring!

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