IT and Social Media
Have you ever put off a trip because you couldn’t find anyone to go with you? An Australian digital start-up based in Sydney aims to help solo travelers link up with one another, share their travel plans, and save money.
Launched in July, 2013, timeBlend.com is an on line digital network. Users sign-up for free and then share their trip plans on timeBlend for others to ‘Join’ in or ‘Follow’.
Travelers wanting travel advice can search a catalogue of ‘Places’, where they will find information on accommodation, travel destinations, cultural attractions, and food and beverage outlets. There are also photos and travel tips.
“We always hear that people want to travel but are held back because they don’t have anyone to travel with,” says timeBlend Founder, Pierrick Ganon.
“timeBlend makes it easy for people to find travel companions, share costs, and have a more enriching cultural experience.’’
Connecting with Other Travelers
Whether it’s finding an amiable seatmate to chat with on your next airline flight or splitting the expenses of a hotel room or meeting like minded people to have dinner with, a growing list of digital networks is offering travelers the chance to connect with other travelers while having more rewarding travel experiences and saving money.
You can meet people on Facebook, have dinner at an amateur gourmet chef’s home, or get tips on the most affordable hostels and the bed and breakfasts with the yummiest food.
But as Stephanie Rosenbloom warns in Making Travel Connections Online in The New York Times, there are risks.
“A seemingly genial roommate online could turn out to be disrespectful or, worse, dangerous in person,” Stephanie writes.
“Or perhaps he or she doesn’t show up at the hotel, in which case you’re out of luck (read: money). There is no insurance if you book a room and the person with whom you’ve chosen to share it cancels or refuses to pay. As for potential safety risks: do not assume that members have been vetted or that they are who they purport to be.”
Translation: be careful! You might want to do a background check. You might also want to have a few conversations on Skype to make sure you see eye to eye.
How to Meet People and Save Money
A list of digital platforms for meeting others when you travel follows. They are listed in alphabtical order. Click to be taken to their websites and do your own due diligence.
Exchanging tips, visiting a museum together, or meeting for drinks or dinner doesn’t sound like a bad idea. But I doubt if I’d be willing to share a hotel with someone I met on line.
And I can’t help but worry about freeloaders. How can you protect yourself against someone that runs up a big tab and then disappears just before the bill arrives?