It’s long been known there are two very distinct kinds of holiday makers. “Tourists” are those who go to all the hot spots, take snaps you can find on postcards, buy package deals and eat at those restaurants that serve every kind of cuisine under the sun. “Travellers” conversely, are the people who hunt out more obscure locations and experiences. Until recently however, no matter which camp you fell into, unless you knew someone locally or could ferret out some details online you were pretty much limited to commercial accommodation options and guide books or review sites. Enter a new world of more bespoke, personal options…
Local Guiding is a service that allows you to buy ‘package’ tours like any other. The huge exception is that the tours are delivered by locals. Just regular folks who are passionate about the thing they’re showing you. From a cooking lesson with a local family to a street art tour by a street artists, each and every package is fully customisable and – importantly – small. Packages start at just $10.00 USD.
Nectar and Pulse sell guide books, but these aren’t your typical cookie-cutter guide books. Rather than the traditional one-size-fits-all approach to such documents, Nectar and Pulse provide detail profiles of the people who put them together. The company is still quite new, but in many cases there are already multiple profiles – and guide books – in each city to choose from. The question is, will you let Daemien and Christine, the photography-obsessed couple be your guides for New York? Or would you prefer Carly, the writer, gastronome and music buff show you the ropes? Guide books are €6.00.
One Fine Stay takes the whole ‘home swap’ concept to a new level. This one is strictly for those who want to experience a location like a local (but with a little of the luxuries you get when you’re staying in a fine hotel). Only the most exceptional homes are chosen to be part of the program based on rigorous criteria like ‘is it exceptional?’ and ‘does it unlock the true flavour of the city’? Coupled with the authenticity of staying in a real local’s home, the One Fine Stay experience is completed with the loan of an iPhone, which is chock-a-block with local hints, tips and ideas courtesy of your hosts (and of course, acts as a local phone which any traveller will attest can be one of the most annoying parts of travelling internationally). Like a hotel, you get fluffy towels, fresh linen, toiletries and the home owner isn’t in residence (homes are only available when they’re out of town). Prices vary greatly depending on location, home, time of year, etc. so it’s best to just go explore the site!