There are many different ways to travel, and many different traveling philosophies that go along with them. Take a look at all the travel blogs out there, and see how many different approaches people take. And then remember how many people travel who have an anti-blogging philosophy you would never see represented on the internet at all. There’s a wide spectrum of travelers, but if we are to identify a central tension/schism among them I think it would be the comfort v. authenticity divide.
Obviously, this is oversimplifying a great many divergent travel opinions, But this one is interesting not because there are those who fall in one camp or the other (although there are), but because there are many travelers who are constantly negotiating this tension, often times sacrificing comfort for local, authentic experiences at one stop…
….and then retreating to gated hotels at their next location.
I think I have finally found a way to walk that tightrope. To have my cake, and eat it too, so to speak.
Not too long ago, I heard about Wimdu. Wimdu is part of the new industry of peer to peer travel rentals. It allows users to rent out their apartments, or rooms, to travelers for prices they choose. There are a few sites like this. Wimdu is by far the best. It allows you to pay for exactly the amount of comfort you want while staying with locals, or rent a place from a local while they are gone. Here’s their description of how it works.
Since I’m back in London, and it’s rainy and cold, I have been planning a quick trip to Barcelona. So I tried out Wimdu, hoping to find a short term rental. A good thing about Wimdu is that there are so many customizable search features. The great thing about Wimdu is its social networking component.
You can see the people you’re renting from, many of who write exhaustive (and clever) descriptions of their places. You can contact the host easily. But what really takes Wimdu to the next level is that you don’t have to take the host’s word for anything. There are reviews, recommendations, and references, so you can get a sense for how often the host rents out a room or flat, and what kind of a host he or she is. The system also makes sure no one exaggerates or lies in their room descriptions, since doing so would result in a bad review.
I can’t wait to go to Barcelona and stay with Pablo, who has many terrific reviews and seems like a great guy. Wimdu, you are my new travel buddy