Vacations 2.0: Organize your trip online
Staying free in private homes… Negotiating your rent with the owners… Hiring a local tour guide… These are some of the new opportunities within reach of 2.0 travelers.
We shop online, we get information online, we work online. Why shouldn’t we organize our vacations online? Every day more Internet users go online to plan their trips for work or pleasure. The facilities and variety offered by the Internet are as limitless as the possible destinations. From exchanging homes to finding “rent-a-friends,” the options are endless.
Tell me where you stay…
Luxurious hotel or family home, all kinds of proposals can be found on the web.
For a low-cost holiday that allows you to enjoy the local customs, your best option is Couchsurfing.org. This site offers free accommodations around the world by letting you stay in the home of another user and receive in your home a guest who is visiting your city. How does it work? Users generate a recommendation system evaluating the places they visit and the guests they receive. The more positive reviews you get, the more doors are opened to you by Couchsurfing for travel around the globe without spending a cent on accommodations. Each participant responsibly describes his or her experiences to assure newcomers that they places they are considering are safe and trustworthy.
If you want to feel comfortable without depending on homeowners’ schedules or hotel availabilities, Airbnb.com offers houses and apartments to rent directly from the owner. On this page, you can look for lodging for the area you want to visit and the date. You can find pictures, details about amenities, calendars showing availability, zone maps, and brief descriptions. A wide variety of options is offered in different price ranges.
The web not only offers information about exceptions in vacation housing but also offers a great variety of information about more traditional accommodations. Two of the most popular sites recommended for finding a hotel are hoteles.com and TripAdvisor. These platforms allow you to search by category, price, and location, and they include user opinions and reviews. On both sites, you can see search results listed in order according to your own criteria (e.g., users’ opinions, cost, amenities and location).
Online preparation for your visit
Before traveling, you want as much information as possible about your destination. For this, Google Places is the best option. The site is administered by its own users, and world travelers post recommendations about what to visit. Stores, restaurants, public places, and historic monuments are just some of the landmarks you will find, always with access to the opinions of previous visitors so you can plan your own trip with their experiences in mind.
Friends for rent
A trip is always an excellent opportunity to make new friends. Whether you are traveling alone or accompanied, if you want to participate in the local culture, think about hiring a native “friend” through Rent a Friend for around 10 dollars an hour (the price can be negotiated). Obviously, when you visit an unknown city, there is nothing better than to be able to depend on a person who knows the place, can advise you which sites to visit and which to avoid, and above all if you’re by yourself, can provide companionship. The kind of activities you might share are as diverse as attending a concert, wandering the city while you practice the language, going to the gym, or having dinner. On Rent-a-Friend, you can look for locations, profiles, and pictures of friends for rent.
The web closes distances and, in the web 2.0 universe, it creates opportunities. The ability to share opinions and reviews makes life easier and more comfortable. Whether for obtaining economy-priced lodgings or a room in a five-star hotel, learning which sites to visit on your own, or arranging for a knowledgeable local companion, today’s Internet has social tools that help plan great vacations.