Lost your best friend? Just got divorced? Not to worry. You don’t have to travel alone. Hop on over to TravBuddy.com where you can find a partner for your trip, ask advice from experienced travelers, and even find the best hotel. The day I checked in, TravBuddy reported that almost 500,000 travelers were sharing about 100,000 reviews, over 4,000,000 photos, and almost 200,000 blogs.
If you know where you want to go, you can jump right in with TravBuddy’s search engine. Let’s try Nepal, and see where that takes us. First, we see a map of Nepal and photo. TravBuddy also has a banner showing how many reviewers (250), photos(23,884) and blogs(797) about Nepal are on the site. Note that the photos are from TravBuddy travelers, not stock photos.
I find more interesting the number (2,565) of TravBuddy people who are traveling to Nepal and the number of TravBuddy locals, 192 – wow!
Locals can be so helpful in getting to know a place. I once had a couple from Australia who wanted to do a house swap with me. I wasn’t ready to travel at that time, but I invited them to come and stay anyway. While they were in my hometown, I showed them around. It was a lot of fun!
Having clicked on the “locals” link, I see I can select people in Nepal by gender and age categories. I can also just cruise the listings to see photos and what these people have to say about themselves. If I want to contact them, I have to “create a TravBuddy account and support the site.” We’ll find out later what that means. Let’s return to original “Nepal” page.
The map offers me a search by place within Nepal. At each place, I can find TravBuddies, reviews, blogs and photos. Himalaya has twelve photos and fifty-six TravBuddies. If I click on that dot on the map, I’m taken to the Himalaya travel guide. The guide page tells me sixty TravBuddies are headed to Himalaya. I can click through the twelve photos (It’s so beautiful!). I can see photos of the TravBuddies going to Himalaya. I can also search for popular hotels near Himalaya, and I see one attraction (Pokhara) near Himalaya. If I click on “Pokhara,” I come to its travel guide, see that it’s one of the largest cities in Nepal, look at a photo of the gorgeous underground waterfall, the brightly painted elongated skiffs tethered lakeside in the morning mist, and see the strangely ornate interior roof of a bus.
Back at the Nepal page, I’m taking a few minutes to read the overview, which, if I’m trekking, warns me about altitude sickness, mentions “remote villages of yak farmers,” and suggests a “romantic” way of living. I want to hear the monks chanting, too.
The Kathmandu travel guide offers 241 travel blogs, 221 hotels (Is this possible?), 24 “Kathmandu Things to Do,” and 6,419 photos and videos. Locals are listed, too. All the hotels and “things to do” are TravBuddy rated with up to five stars. Restaurants are listed, too. The Number 1 restaurant in Kathmandu is the New Orleans Café.
TravBuddy also provides ranked “tips” for Kathmandu. The top-rated tip is “How much is tiger balm?” I want to know, “What is tiger balm, and why would I want it?” Let’s see. Apparently tiger balm can be had for twenty rupees, and the blogger does a good job of negotiating with aggressive salesmen on the streets of Nepal. He also tells us “the average Nepali earns about 300 US dollars per year,” an interesting fact, but I still don’t know how tiger balm is used. So, I’m going to do a quick Google search. According to Wikipedia, Tiger Balm is the Chinese equivalent of BENGAY®.
Back to Kathmandu, I’m looking at “Nightlife” and “Hostels” rankings. I just realized I can find flight and hotel deals on this page. I’ll try the hotel search engine first. It looks pretty standard in terms of operation. “Enter dates,” etc. I check a couple dates in May, and I’m redirected to five new websites, Kayak, priceline, agoda, fly.com, and Hotel Planner, which can’t get its act together in the time I’m willing to wait. When I close them all, I see a long page of rated Kathmandu hotel results right on TravBuddy. Number 1 is Kantipur Temple House. I enjoy looking at the thirty-two photos of this hotel. If I didn’t want to stay there, TravBuddy offers 192 others for my consideration.
Having traveled as far as Kathmandu, we can see how deeply TravBuddy delves into even such an unusual location. I’m now going to take a peek at its “Write a Review” option and “Forums.” If you want, you can write individual reviews on hotels, restaurants, attractions, tips, and nightlife. You can also publish a list of reviews like your “top ten favorite hotels.” At this point, we all know how important reviews can be for our own use and for businesses, themselves.
TravBuddy has eighteen different forums. These are organized by continents, social groups (like “chats,” “meetups,” and “Looking for a Travel Buddy.” There are also forums to discuss “gear” and “Travel Alerts.” There’s even a forum to help you use TravBuddy. If you can’t find the forum you need, there’s an “Off-Topic” forum as well as forum for games and quizzes. If you don’t know what forum you want, the Forums section also has a search engine, which is available to you once you become a member.
Now that you’re a member of TravBuddy, you can contact others, contribute your own thoughts and start planning your trip, solo (where you might meet some TravBuddy locals) or with a new Travel Buddy.
If you don’t know where you want to go, check out TravBuddy’s world map. You could treat it like a wall map, close your eyes, circle your finger around a few times, drift back toward your laptop and let your finger be the dart. Where are you going now?
On the home page, you can opt to meet other travelers and see their travel plans by most recent listings. Browse the photos. Sometimes the best selections are made by intuition. Or browse the listings. See what description calls to you.
However you decide to use TravBuddy, you’ll find that you will be a more experienced traveler before you even begin your journey because we can all learn from each other. Then, prepare to be surprised!
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