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5 Cool Travel Tools to Get a Truly Local Experience

Mihir Patkar 21-05-2016

Travelling across the globe has become much easier with the rapid strides in technology. There are entire social media apps for travelers The 7 Best Social Media Apps for Travelers There are a number of social media apps designed specifically for travelers. Here are the best ones you should start using! Read More , you can research your destination in detail before you ever leave, and you can even use Google Maps to be your own guide Be Your Own Travel Guide: 7 Tips To Travel Smarter With Google Maps Going on a trip can be such a stressful experience. But, let's walk you through the ways you can use Google Maps to plan every aspect of your next big trip. Read More . But true travelers know that a local’s knowledge is incomparable.


Technology can help there too, though. And we don’t just mean like niche communities for digital nomads 7 Friendly Communities for Every Traveling Digital Nomad Being a digital nomad can involve more spent time alone than you may like. But is having a community while traveling really important? And if so, which online communities are the best to join? Read More , but for the general public. With the right websites, communities, and apps, you can find a local person wherever you are going, and check out their city through their eyes, indulge in a home-cooked meal with a family, or even go partying.

Global Greeter Network (Web): Get a Local Tour with a Passionate Volunteer for Free

The Global Greeter Network (GGN) has its own philosophy towards travelling. They encourage travel enthusiasts to form a network of like-minded souls in their own city, who can show a newcomer around the place. Each Greeter network for a city has their own website, where you can learn about the members, the sights you can see, and other information.


You’ll find everything from the languages the local guides speak to how big a group they can serve. Plus, photo albums of past visitors from the GGN and their experiences will tell you everything else you need to know. The best part? Every greeter network on GGN is completely free!

MeetUp (Web): Find Local Groups, Meet-Ups, and Events

MeetUp isn’t actually a platform to meet local travel guides, but it actually works out that way quite often. We’ve already shown you a few event calendar apps to track new events 5 Awesome Event Calendars to Always Know What's Coming Up Birthdays, soccer games, office parties — they all have a place on your calendar. But how do you keep track of them? Event-tracking calendars will keep you updated about what's happening around you. Read More , but when you’re in a new city and want to check out what’s happening or what locals are doing, then go to MeetUp.



Just key in the city you’re in and you’ll see a full list. You can browse either by groups or by calendar. As a visiting tourist, the calendar view is probably going to be handier since you can see what’s happening soon. Just contact the group and ask if you can join. MeetUp is based on the idea of meeting new people, so tourists are almost always welcomed.

Bon Appetour (Web): Enjoy a Home-Cooked Meal with Locals

There are plenty of apps to find a good restaurant anywhere in the world Need Food? 8 Best Social Restaurant Recommendation Apps Worldwide When you're out and about, who do you turn to to tell you where to eat? Do you look around and take your chances? Or do you listen to the wisdom of crowds? Read More . But restaurants can’t compare to the experience of eating a home-cooked meal by someone who has lived in that city for ages. That’s what Bon Appetour wants to bring to your table.


Find the city you’re visiting, check out the options, and book a table at the best-sounding home cook. There’s a full description of what you can expect, a brief introduction to your hosts, and reviews from people who have visited them already. It’s not free, but it won’t cost you more than what you’d spend at a restaurant anyway. And hey, you can even sign up to become a host yourself!

Bon Appetour is filled with such home meal experiences around the world, but if you’re visiting Asia specifically, check out Travelling Spoon. It has more cooks from countries like India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and others offering great meals, so you’ll get a wider variety to choose from.

Party with a Local (Android, iOS): It’s Party Time!

Is the nightlife more your scene than an early dinner and resting at your hotel? Oh boy, you need to download Party with a Local (PWAL) right away. Get the app, sign up, and you’ll see locals as well as fellow travelers in the city. Set a status to announce what you’re looking for, like going to a club or just going for a drink. And then find others yourself or wait for the messages to come in!


Party with a Local’s focus is on the nightlife, so you’ll actually find more things to do here than regular tourist guides. Just a quick search by me and a colleague in two different cities showed us bars and clubs that us locals didn’t know about, but others were keen to go to. It’s super easy to set it up and start using it.

And hey, if you’re worried about safety, remember that your phone can be your personal bodyguard The 5 Best Self Defense Apps for Personal Safety When Walking Alone These self-defense apps provide personal safety for anyone walking alone at night. Keep them on your phone for peace of mind. Read More , so set it up to do that before you leave the hotel.

Download: Party with a Local for Android (Free) | iOS (Free)

WithLocals (Web, Android, iOS): The Marketplace of Local Tours

WithLocals is just one of many marketplaces for locals to offer customized guides to tourists at a price. It’s simple. The “local” has to sign up and get verified (so you’re assured of safety and of their following certain guidelines), after which they can sell a type of tour for a price.

WithLocals helpfully categorizes their tours into three sections: Eat, Tours, and Activities. Choose what you want to do and you’ll see a bouquet of different guided packages in each. For example, if you think the best way to see a city is by taking a food walk, someone at WithLocals will probably offer that.

Of course, WithLocals isn’t the first website to do this. There are plenty of others like Vayable, which we have looked at before 15 Ultimate Chrome Extensions For Travel Planning Search for a flight or hotel, plan a route for the road, save items you find, and discover new spots with these excellent 15 travel tools for Chrome. Read More , so in case WithLocals doesn’t offer what you want, try that too.

Download: WithLocals for Android (Free) | iOS (Free)

Rule #1: Travel Safely

While all of these experiences are great ways to get a local flavor of things in your travels, do remember that your personal safety comes first. Much like the tricks to stay safe while couchsurfing 6 Tricks You Need To Know To Stay Safe Using Couchsurfing Do you use Couchsurfing, Hospitality Club or similar to meet like-minded people when you travel? How do you stay safe when using these networks? Read More , do your research beforehand and don’t get exploited.

Which also brings us to our question of the day.

What are your best tips and tricks to stay safe in a new city? How do you protect your passport or other valuables? What information do you like to keep at hand? And what sets your Spidey-sense tingling for danger?

Related topics: Cool Web Apps, Travel.

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  1. Anonymous
    May 22, 2016 at 6:51 pm

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  2. Anonymous
    May 22, 2016 at 6:50 pm


  3. Anonymous
    May 22, 2016 at 6:49 pm

  4. Anonymous
    May 22, 2016 at 6:47 pm


  5. Shawn Rosvold
    May 21, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    I had my daypack stolen after I left it beside my table at a restaurant in Medellin. I wish I had this:

    My wife and I were boarding the Paris Metro last year when we were surrounded by a exuberant group of teens and pre-teens. We are veterans of the New York City subways, and our Spidey-senses were tingling because the car was relatively uncrowded and they were definitely invading our space. I glanced up and a fellow passenger pointed to his eyes with two fingers which confirmed that we were surrounded by a group of pickpockets. I always take off my backpack in the subway or on buses and keep it between my feet where I can see it. I have zippered pockets on my pants, and I always keep my valuables in my front pockets. I glared at the kids, and they got off at the next stop.