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Are you thinking of studying or traveling abroad in the near future? But don’t know anyone in your host country? For many students and young travelers, getting to know locals with similar interests can be a daunting experience. Especially if you don’t speak the local language perfectly, it is easier to hang out with English-speakers who are also studying or traveling abroad. However, now there is no need to fear anymore.
Triptrotting has the solution; an online platform, it matches world travelers to like-minded local hosts for unique travel experiences, and is open to university students and young professionals. Does that sound interesting to you? I asked Shana Zheng, co-founder of Triptrotting, six questions to find out more about how her travel start-up works. Here goes:
Isabel EB: How did you come up with the idea of founding Triptrotting?
Shana Zheng: My long time friend Aigerim and I are both avid travelers and have been to over 50 countries. While working in our corporate jobs, we started to talk about how great our personal adventures were and it turned out that the most memorable experiences all had to do with meeting great people. We went a step further and discovered that the people you choose to keep in contact with all share similar interests. After working with the University of Southern California’s Study Abroad programs, we soon realized that many other people shared the same desires.
IEB: What exactly does Triptrotting do?
SZ: Triptrotting matches travelers with “like-minded” locals based on similar interests. You can see who you are matched with around the world and meet up for a cup of coffee, a city tour or a night on the town. Triptrotting gives the travelers a way to experience new destination from the eyes of the local and allows local hosts to expand their international network without ever leaving the city. Members in Triptrotting are all verified by association with a university, company or another member/partner organization. Otherwise, you can request to join.
IEB: You recently offered a contest where the winner will win a summer trip, will you be offering future contests, too?
SZ: Yes, we have in the past done giveaways from IPAD2’s to Mint Cleaners to now the search for the Ultimate Triptrotter where we will be sending a lucky winner to travel all over the world meeting like-minded Triptrotters. It really is the best job in the world, traveling and sharing your experiences.
IEB: How can DIWYY readers benefit from your services?
SZ: Traveling is fun but Triptrotting helps DIWYY readers go beyond just being that clueless tourist. It offers like-minded people all over the world a way to learn from each other personally and create meaningful friendships.
IEB: Do you have any advice for hosts and those being hosted?
SZ: As a traveler, I would suggest contacting multiple hosts and explain what you are looking for in the messaging system. You can see what percentage match you are to your host and communicate clearly. Hosts are often extremely welcome and hospitable people eager to show you their town. They often go out of their way to share a real part of their culture and city. Triptrotting offers a tipping system where travelers can deposit a tip to the host and after a review process after the meet up, the tip is transferred. Otherwise the tip is refunded. If you had a great as a host or traveler, give each other a positive rating.
IB: Do you have any advice for readers who went to start their own company in the travel industry?
SZ: My advice is simple: Just do it. Many people have ideas and rarely do people go and make it happen. If you put yourself in the mindset of “just do it,” something will get done.
The following two Triptrotters “just did it” and used the platform. Magdalena, a host in Santiago, Chile, shares that:
“My Triptrotting experience has been awesome so far. My first Triptrotters were Ramona Jhunjhnuwala and her friend Poulami Jagtap was assigned to another good friend of mine, Javier Juanet, so the 4 of us hung out and we had a blast!! We still keep in touch, and are also making plans to visit (either I go to California or they come back to Chile) but we know we’re gonna eventually see each other again!! (I totally miss them!!) And I’ve also hosted other girls from California and exchanged some emails with another guy from Spain. I’m grateful to be part of the Triptrotting community because it has been a good platform to meet people from other countries and culture, and that’s an amazing experience. I also love my country, so it’s amazing to be able to share it with other triptrotters, and take them out to know the city, and the beaches nearby, the clubs, parks, etc. And the best thing: PISCO (with coke, it’s “piscola”, kind of our national drink). Just ask Poulami how much she liked pisco!! It doesn’t matter where you’re from or how different our cultures can be… in the end, we’re all the same.”
Denisha Brekke, a student at the University of Southern California, enjoyed being hosted:
“How didn’t Triptrotting enhance my experience abroad? Within five hours of landing in Budapest, I had eaten lunch cooked by my hosts’ mom, talked politics with the locals, and had a sip of the traditional Hungarian liquor: Palinka. In the crazy city of Bangkok I didn’t have to worry about a thing – my Triptrotting host was waiting for me at the airport with a list of activities to do. In Lima, Peru, my host pointed out the best Peruvian cuisine in the city where all of the locals eat. Because of Triptrotting I got past all of the tourist traps and made lifelong connections with people and places I never thought I would visit.”
“No matter where I go, I have friends there…”