Both my partner Tom and I love connecting with locals while we travel. While it’s great to read guidebooks and research ahead of time, to get the most authentic experience of a place, nothing beats getting insider information and tips from someone who lives there. Some of our most memorable trips and experiences were based on local recommendations. From renting a motorbike and driving along the coast of some random island in the Philippines, all the way to hunting down the best pizzeria in Naples, Italy. Given our love for connecting with people, we’re always up for trying out new apps and tools to help us connect with other people. From Couchsurfing, to joining local facebook groups, we’ve pretty much tried it all.
When a company called Travel Pal reached out to us, I took a look at their website and I was instantly interested. Combining the things I love about Couchsurfing with things apps to help you find a travel buddy, I couldn’t wait to try out. As you all know, we never endorse products that we don’t believe in or use ourselves so I gave myself a good week or so to really use and test out the product. So first things first, what does it do?
Travel Pal: What Does it Do?
Reach Out to Locals for Authentic Travel Experiences
Whether its advice on the best things to see and do, or in my case, the best places to eat (locals know where it’s at!), all the way down to requesting if you can crash on their couch or spare room. People list their preference on what they can extend to guests so you can check their profile ahead of time to see what they are able to offer you! Apart from finding hosts, Travel Pal will also help you find loads of people who will happily take you around for a day and serve as your local tour guide. As soon as you fill in your travel plans, this serves as a shout out to local hosts and travelers.
With Travel Pal You Can:
- Input your trip and find profiles of locals in the same area
- Ask for advice and insider tips from people who know the area best
- Avoid the usual tourist traps and routes by getting insider information
Find a Travel Buddy
When I was traveling solo, I was always on the look out for people to travel with. While I was perfectly happy on my own, going on tours with a few other people is always cheaper. While I would mostly resort to making friends at my hostel or over dinner, I would definitely use an app that would allow me to make travel plans with others. Not only do you get to chat with other people and get to know them beforehand, it’s also a great icebreaker for those who are hesitant to go up to random strangers. I remember getting mixed reactions when I would randomly go up to people in my hostel with my chirpy “hey, do you want to go jungle trekking in Sumatra with me for 5 days?” at least with Travel Pal, I can actually make friends before hand…then find out if they’re actually the type of person I would like to get stuck in a jungle with for 5 days!
With Travel Pal You Can:
- Find people who are traveling to the same areas as you are
- Reach out to them online and instantly make friends so you can arrange tours and meet-ups
Chat in a Foreign Language
I am no doubt a frustrated linguist. While I can’t seem to stay long enough in one place to pick up a language, I love being able to hold my weight when it comes to saying local phrases. Fun fact, I can say hello and thank you in over 20 languages…but sadly that’s pretty much it which is why I enjoy the chat feature of Travel Pal which allows you to chat with other people using their local language. Not fluent? No problem, they have handy phrasebook translations and words which you can use to hold out a basic conversation.
Be a Host
Unable to travel but love meeting people from all over the world? Travel Pal allows you to still make a profile and become a host. Open up your home to someone, offer to take them to your favorite restaurants, or even offer to cook them a local meal. While this concept is pretty similar to Couchsurfing, the idea never gets old! I remember vividly asking my CS while looking for where to stay in Rome why he opened up his home to random strangers and his answer was simple. He said I love traveling and meeting new people! This year, I can’t do much traveling because of work so instead, I let the traveling come to me. He said people who have stayed with him have cooked him local dishes from their home countries, wowed him with their interesting tales of their travels, and made him feel like he was still seeing the world. Travel Pal allows you to do exactly that as you connect with people from all over the world.
With Travel Pal You Can:
- Meet people from all over the world, regardless if you’re traveling or not
- Share your knowledge and local know-how about all your favorite places in your city/town
- Add some novelty to your everyday life with interactions with people from all walks of life
The Verdict: Would I Use It?
As Travel Pal says, we’re like Couchsurfing on steroids. Would I use it? Yes! With a number of features that they have and the easy user interface, Travel Pal is an app which I could see myself using, especially if I was traveling by myself. Being able to connect with locals is a big part of how we travel so apps like Travel Pal just made it easier for us. As we speak, we are in Koh Samui, Thailand with the plans of hopping around from one island to the next. I’ve already made a shoutout and placed our rough travel itinerary and it looks like there will be a few other travelers who we found on the app who we would gladly meet over a couple of coconut shakes and beers. Why go to all the trouble? Well, because that’s what traveling is all about. Meeting other people, making the most out of experiences, and being open to the people you meet along the way! But, don’t just take my word for it. Download Travel Pal for: iOs | Android and test it out yourself.
P.S. How dope this view from our beach hut in Koh Samui?
Please note that this article was written in partnership with Hello Pal App but despite this, all opinions are ours and remain completely unbiased.
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