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When I first began traveling the world, sharing your experiences via social media had just begun to take off, and it was one of the first opportunities you really had to truly live vicariously through the travels of your friends. I would see Facebook albums pop up in my stream from all around the globe, (on my first year abroad 88 girls from my High School traveled to the UK alone – we Australians LOVE to travel the world!), though these were essentially just albums of all of the cliche things that tourists do.

Everyone snapped their selfies holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, popped up at almost every Australian bar across Europe, and probably got by without learning a single phrase in a foreign tongue. And while that was all fine for them, I couldn’t help but feel the urge to seek out unique experiences instead.

I wanted to return home with photos which were different from the shot everyone else had, and see the world through the eyes of a local. While 88 girls had traveled to the UK with a contiki tour pre booked, I wanted to replace the generic, mass produced holiday that my peers seemed content with, to seek out a more unique, personal experience, while maybe even supporting the local communities that inspired me to book my trip.

Back then there weren’t the sleuth of technology, apps and start-ups which are around today, and in the end I found myself on a Contiki tour too. Though nowadays it’s becoming easier and easier to connect with locals in order to ensure a fully immerisve experience abroad. If only apps like Ventoura had been around back then.

Meet Locals For Authentic Travel Experiences

Meeting the locals wherever you go is pretty much always a good idea, though it’s often a lot easier said than done when you’re in an unfamiliar city abroad. But with a little preparation before you arrive, it’s very possible to experience a city just like the locals do, and Ventoura puts you in touch with locals for a tour – an app which allows you to leave your heavy guidebook behind and rely on the inside scoop.

The app is free, and as easy as entering your travel itinerary and finding locals who can show you the hidden treasures of their city; the doors you would have walked past, the cliff diving spots you would have never found, the galleries which are lesser known. Without an intimate knowledge of a destination it’s impossible to catch these gems – and generally only the locals know best!

Urban exploring in Paris wouldn’t have been the same if Mike and I hadn’t hooked up with a friend of a friend who offered to show us around the city of love. We ended up ice-skating on the Eiffel Tower and hitting up quiet, charming neighborhoods away from the main tourist scene with coffee shops we would have never known.

The possibilities from an intimate local tour really are endless, and they are options you’re unlikely to find on generic mass produced tours. Each tour is, after-all, based on the creativity of the individual who calls your new destination home.

The coffee shops you would have never known. En Vrac, Paris.

If you’re looking to see and know about the monumental landmarks of an area, sure, Ventoura is still a great app. After having recently become addicted to chatting with travelers and locals alike, there are a fantastic range of city walking tours which will ensure you don’t miss the main sites. Though the main perk for someone like me, a traveler who’s looking for something more, is that it comes with the added bonus of the inside scoop – the ability to get yourself off the beaten path.

It’s learning about the restaurant on the corner loved by the locals for its freshly caught fish, the best spot to catch sunrise in the mornings, the hiking trails that lead to spectacular views, and the secret ice caves normally reserved for the background of your phone.

This is the type of knowledge that comes with a local guide, that comes only from local insight.

Whether you’re hitting up streets of Barcelona for a secret coffee tour with the film student who has a coffee obsession, or wanting to learn how to make traditional Spanish tacos in someone’s home, Ventoura offers a great range of options for exploring a destination in a way different to a generic group tour. Someone has created an itinerary tailored just for you, whether it’s an active holiday or a cultural tour.

Though you can also use Ventoura to match with other travelers who are in the same place at the same time. In 2009 I was psyched and ready to head out on my second whirlwind adventure abroad. I sent out a group text, and had 15 friends in for an immersive experience through Eastern Europe. Of course, as the date for the trip came closer and closer, and payments became due, I ended up finding myself on my own. Though I easily made new friends in hostels after having decided to travel regardless, it would have been so amazing to have had the opportunity to chat with other travelers before leaving home.

So don’t be intimidated by solo travel if your friends end up leaving you alone – start chatting to travelers before you go and you may find yourself set with a new travel companion in each place you go. It’s a great way to find travelers to enjoy your journey with when your peers back home may have a different set of priorities for their holidays abroad.

Make Money as a Local

It’s important to remember as a traveler, that we are not the only ones benefiting from the choice to travel local. The locals benefit too. A great deal of the money generated by tourism never actually reaches local communities, and travelling locally gives our money the best chance of reaching the people who really deserve it – the people living in the area who make the place what it is.

As our current travels throughout the US are winding down to a close, our relocation to Australia draws closer by the day, and Mike and I will soon be faced with the transition from nomad to local once more. And while you can take the girl out of travel, you can never truly take travel out of the girl! Establishing a base after so many years of vagabonding on the road just means that we’ll be in the perfect position to meet up with travelers and show them around our home!  I figure what better way to do so than to sign up as a local on Ventoura and make money while doing so.

Creating a tour takes just a few minutes. You can accept bookings whenever it’s convenient for you, and still take time for your regular commitments.

In a Nutshell For Travellers

– Get to know people you will see on your travels before you leave home.
– Meet locals for unforgettable experiences and step off the beaten path.

1. Download Ventoura
2. Enter your destinations
3. Match with locals and other travelers
4. Have an awesome experience

The Ventouring matching system means you meet only the people you want, and that they want to meet you.

In a Nutshell For Locals

– Get paid for providing awesome experiences to Travelers. You are the travel guidebook.
– Have fun and earn at the same time. It really is that simple!

1. Download Ventoura
2. Create your experience
3. Match with travelers
4. Chat and accept bookings
5. Earn money

Whether you’re breaking away from the 9-5 grind, or you’re a student looking to earn extra money, Ventoura can work for you.

This is the part where you download the app!

Download Ventoura here for iOS: www.ventoura.com/ios and Android: www.ventoura.com/android.

Free on iOS Free on Android

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Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging since 2007, with the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

Photo credits: Featured photo by Karan Jain. En Vrac, Paris from Dining out in Paris. Mendenhall Glacial Caves by Andrew E. Russell. Pinterest photo by Karan Jain.

    28 Comments

  1. Hi, there should be a login for email only or twitter account. Not everyone uses fb.

    • Hey Rizanito – that’s an awesome point, I’ll shoot them an email with your feedback :)

  2. This sounds really cool! I strongly believe that meeting the locals is the best way to know the world!

    • Absolutely agree – the way you get to know a destination is through the culture of the people who live there. It’s the people who make a place as opposed to the sights, monuments or structures :)

  3. This is a fabulous idea! When I travel I strive to intermingle with the locals and check out the culture for what it really is … not what the tourist sectors want you to see. I’m excited to try out this app on my upcoming travels. :) Thanks Meg!

    • Glad you’re excited about the app Dawn – it really is a fab concept. So glad you also strive to intermingle with locals; it makes for a more well rounded and memorable experience over all :)

  4. What a great idea! I love being showed around people’s home towns. Downloading now :D

    • Absolutely – and it’s so much fun being the local to show travelers around. They’re generally so passionate about their town and really want to show it off for foreigners to enjoy, so it takes a tour to a whole new level when someone is that passionate about showing you around :)

  5. Loved reading about your experiences and about Ventoura, an app I had no idea about before. I think I’ll give it a shot when our next vacation begins. I didn’t see you mention anything about SE Asia. Wonder if it’d work there as well?

    • Hey Duke – absolutely, you’ve got cities in South East Asia there in the app too :) I haven’t looked into those cities in great depth just because we haven’t had the chance to travel here personally yet, though Beijing, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hanoi – there’s a pretty decent selection for SE Asia in there :)

      Happy travels!

  6. Hey Meg this looks great. Since I’m already showing people around my hometown, I’m going to give the app a try.

    • Definitely do – nice way to earn a little bit of money on the side; especially if it’s something you’re already doing :)

  7. This sounds so fun – local experiences are what make travel so memorable!V

    • They absolutely do! It’s always the people I remember over the tourist attractions everyone crowds a destination to see :)

  8. This app looks useful and adds to the experience. Thanks.

  9. Very cool! I really like the interface, I also think seeing the world through the eyes of a local is the way to go! Downloading!

    • Absolutely is. Glad to hear you like the interface – happy travels!

  10. This sounds like a really neat app and one that will definitely enhance your experience when exploring the world! Just as others have said, there is no better way to experience a location than by meeting locals and having them point you in the right direction of local spots worth checking out. Cultural knowledge is another huge benefit as you learn about all the good and bad aspects of the location, something I think we all should appreciate as travelers to really make us more knowledgeable about the world we live in!

    • Absolutely Chris – you make an awesome point re cultural knowledge – because that’s not something you can really read about in a book; sure you can get a basic overview of the different cultural norms from a guidebook or online, but that local insight really takes your experience to another level completely.

      The only way to truly discover a destination and say you became fully immersed in my opinion :)

  11. Quite interesting.
    We have been travelling continously for a year now, staying mostly in Airbnb apartments. Some of our hosts have been great and some of our best experiences was when they’ve invited us out for a hike, a beer, or even supper. They never charged for this, but those local experiences were the highlights of our trips.
    I’ve mentioned to a few of them that they should offer their services as an offshoot to just the apartment. One guy gave us a great hike and I told him that he should offer it to his guests, it’s a much more genuine experience than most tours.
    There’s so much potential there. We arrived in Zadar last night and Spanky mentioned that it would be great if someone could pre-cook us a meal and just leave it in our fridge for us to warm up. As travellers we sometimes get fed up with restaurants. Another area where an Airbnb owner can make money…

    My point is that there are so many avenues where encounters with locals would make experiences both more authentic and less expensive and with the technology today the possibilities are endless.

    Thanks for the post, will look into Ventoura.
    Frank (bbqboy)

    • Thanks for your comment Frank – so glad to hear you’ve had fantastic local experiences through Airbnb – we haven’t actually used Airbnb yet, though we’ve been hearing fabulous things about it, and you may have just convinced me it’s time to get my act into gear and have a look!

      There really is so much potential for these kind of tours and experiences now that the world is becoming full of travelers who want more – more than just the average tourist experience. Connecting locally with people who live in a destination really does make for the most memorable aspects of a trip.

      It’s looking like this area of travel will only become better over time :)

  12. Sounds like an incredible app! Technology seems to be making it even easier to experience new places at deep level.

    • It really is – love that it’s so easy these days to connect with destinations on a local level. Literally now just a click away!

  13. Awesome. I haven’t heard of that app yet, will definitely check it out.

    • Glad we could introduce it to you! Happy travels Stef!

  14. Thanks Meg! It is amazing how technology is helping. There are actually two other apps – Backpackr and Tripr. I found some places on Ventoura dont have a huge amount of people.

    Backpackr is the best for Australia and Trip is great for Europe.

    • Thanks for the tips Boudica! Will definitely check those out too. Really is amazing how far technology has come and the opportunities now available which weren’t before. Glad you enjoyed the post :) Happy travels!

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