For the next 3 days FAC’s blog will be taken over by Mitchel Dumlao’s cool new project, “My City.”
LOOKING FOR GEMS: Travelling made easy
When I stepped off the plane in Tokyo, I knew I was in a different world. Signs were in Kanji, the people were unbelievably polite, and there was hardly any English spoken while I was asking for directions – this was going to be an adventure. Worried that I wouldn’t be able to catch the train to my hostel, my fears subsided after being helped by a Japanese local who knew a few words in English. With my ticket in hand, I jumped on the train and started my journey through Tokyo.
As I looked around, I couldn’t help but wonder what these locals did during the day and the places they frequented when it was time to let loose and relax. If I only knew a local, then maybe I’d get a more authentic experience of Tokyo – I’d even be willing to pay someone to show me around. Not a commercialized tour filled with families and retirees, but someone my age with the same interests, who could show me places that an extensive Google search couldn’t find. Luckily, I later met up with my older brother, who’s friend was a diplomat that knew the language and city pretty well.
But what If I was on my own? How could I experience a city to its fullest extent if I didn’t know the local language or a friend to show me around? I was sure I wasn’t the only one, so I thought of a solution that would make traveling not only easier, but personalized and social, connecting people with similar interests rather than telling travelers what they should see.
When I returned to the States, I met with my friend Ray and came up with the mobile app idea called MY CITY. A travel app that connects travelers with locals through personalized and curated tours. Travelers will be able to browse through a variety of tours offered by locals, and also have the opportunity to post their trip itinerary on the app so they could have tour specialists offer them their vision of the city according to both their interests. Users will have profiles connected to their social media, so you can feel a little more comfortable meeting up with someone who has a few mutual friends on Facebook. Not only would you be able to get a tour of a city through the eyes of a local, but you will also make a new friend on the way.
Travelling can be lonely, but that’s the allure of venturing across borders to places unknown. We can hide behind our blasting headphones or tattered books on the train, but having the pleasure of meeting a genuinely nice local makes the experience much more authentic. And who knows, a lovely experience can turn into a lifelong relationship with that city, and you can return the favor to that lost backpacker with the Lonely Planet book in their hand who’s looking for a little assistance on his journey.
If you’re interested in the MY CITY mobile app, please vote for us at LA2050 connect and help us win a grant to take our project to the next level. Click on this link and vote, and please feel free to share with your family and friends. Everyone wants to travel, so let’s make it easy and social!
VIDEO LINK: Philippines and Japan trip