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Travelers naturally gravitate toward referrals and recommendations. They’re social creatures who trust other travelers more than traditional marketing, and they’re always on the lookout for atypical tourist activities. Social media is a great way to get the most current insider info, but what if you could skip the planning and get a personalized itinerary from a trusted local? It’s kind of like Rent a Friend, only less creepy.

Travelers naturally gravitate toward referrals and recommendations. They’re social creatures who trust other travelers more than traditional marketing, and they’re always on the lookout for atypical tourist activities. Social media is a great way to get the most current insider info, but what if you could skip the planning and get a personalized itinerary from a trusted local? It’s kind of like Rent a Friend, only less creepy.

Tripbod, your “friend on the other end,” does just that. Launched in 2009, it’s based on the belief that pairing travelers with locals (Tripbods) leads to better experiences and saves time, money and hassle.

You can search Tripbods by destination or special interest (adventure sports, food, hot air ballooning, bogshoeing, etc), or contact the company with your trip expectations and they’ll find you a Tripbod. Most are located in Europe, but there are still good pickings in other parts of the world. Once you choose your new friend, you’ll get access to a private planning page where you have unlimited communication with your Tripbod via PMs and live Skype chat.

Prices are based on the length of trip, not the length of contact with your Tripbod. So the earlier you book, the better pre-trip info you’ll get. A one day trip will cost you £16, whereas a 6 month trip will run £350.

Is it just me or is this amazing?

I don’t think it’s for everyone—I prefer to in a country with absolutely no bookings or plans—but for new travelers, or those who are scared of their destination, this could be a great investment. Before they arrive, they can quell their fears and feel fully prepared for their trip. Experienced travelers, however, can easily do their own research and they usually have no problem exploring on their own or making friends with locals.

VisitBritain, Britain’s national DMO, has partnered with Tripbod to give visitors personalized experiences for five regions. If you’re planning to go to Manchester, Edinburgh, London, Glasgow or the Lake District, you can purchase a 1 hr Meet and Greet, where you sit down with your Tripbod and get recommendations based on your budget and interests, a 1.5 hr City Explorer, where you explore the city with your Tripbod, or you can purchase a combination of both.

What other city could benefit from a service like this? Victoria! Our downtown core is so jam-packed with attractions that most tourists never stray from the core. Plus, our residents are shockingly proud of this city, whether they were born here or not. Those who are Victoria-raised don’t want to leave, and those who are imports (most of the population, it seems) love to tell the world how they’ll never set foot in their hometown again.

With so much to do and so many places to explore in Victoria and on Vancouver Island, making a custom itinerary would be a snap. Local DMOs could greatly benefit from this type of service, and I bet they’d have no problem finding eager guides.

 

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