February 23, 2015

Latest travel tech focuses on connections — between people

For tech-enthused travelers, the app marketplace is a digital nerd’s fantasy world with sweet, delicious, never-ending nectar running through its valleys (too much?).

Most of us know, and likely use, the well-known apps for things like directions, reviews and accommodations. However, hidden in the nooks and crannies of app store paradise are new services that are transforming and actually humanizing travel. They connect us, help us and entertain. They are new tools shaping the way in which travelers spend their precious time, one download at a time.

Party with a Local – For travelers seeking a night out on the town, meet your new best (party) friend. Frankly titled, this app matches you with nearby nightlife aficionados. Party with a Local is certainly not a hookup app, and users are genuinely meeting up, often in groups, to enjoy a city’s nightlife.

Gamping – The Airbnb for campers is here. Gamping connects campers and landholders anywhere in the world. Users can find tent-worthy earth near the sea, in backyards, along mountains, among other settings. Geared toward adventurers looking to save money, current Gamping prices are less than $20 per night for a plot o’ land.

Native – A new app in beta testing, Native places a personal travel assistant right into your pocket. For $25 a month, you are matched with a city expert and travel assistant to take care of any travel need. From booking flights and sending you directions, to making reservations and recommending things to do, Native is your all-in-one, on-demand personal assistant. You also get 24/7 access to offline maps, boarding passes and budgeting tools.

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Wander – Traveling solo is quite popular, but it can often feel lonely. Wander, an app not yet launched, will aim to solve this problem. Once you enter your destination, it helps you find other independent travelers heading to the same place at the same time. Wander has the swipe-left-or-right approach made popular by Tinder, and profiles display interests, photos, travel plans, and more information to help you find the perfect adventure companion.

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Localfu – If you’re in a new city and want authentic experiences, Localfu offers personalized suggestions from real locals who know their stuff, for just for $5. Search for locals with the expertise you’re seeking, and tell them what you’re looking for. They’ll message you with suggestions, addresses, phone numbers, images and maps. Localfu only supports domestic destinations, but has plans to expand abroad.

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LocalYoo – Hiring a tour guide is expensive. Doing your own research is free, but it might never be enough. The happy middle-ground might be a new website called LocalYoo, which provides ideas, activities and inspirations for your upcoming trip. Local residents become your guide on amazing experiences that few outside their hometown know about. Prices vary depending on local expertise and activities.

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