A New Way to Travel

When you live in a beautiful city that lots of people want to visit, like San Francisco, you get a bit jaded.   That lovely park at the top of Nob Hill?  A place where neighborhood dogs love to go and mark the trees and bushes.   Riding  one of the iconic cable cars?  A way to get to and from work that you always pray is not so packed with tourists that you can’t wedge  yourself into a tiny space with someone’s arm in your face and someone’s bag against your back.

San Francisco’s such a great city, but I catch myself often not appreciating it as much as I should.  That’s why I love when my husband and I  have people visiting us from abroad – especially if it’s their first time in the city.  Suddenly I start to see the city through their eyes.  Their sense of wonder rubs off on me, and I get a rush of civic pride.  I want to show off my city, take them to all of my favorite places.

Another benefit of having international visitors is that we get to practice the languages we know other than English.  My husband, for example, has someone with whom to speak Norwegian when friends from his native Norway visit.  I brush up on my interpretation skills when we have Spanish-speaking guests.

For these reasons, I was happy to find an online community called Tripping.  Its website allows for global hospitality exchange.  Here is how it works: You register on the site (takes less than a minute) and then search for members living in your desired destination. You browse through the list of registered users (and their profiles) then explore their availability for hosting.

Hosting means that the local member of Tripping (“Host”) gives the travelers (“Trippers”) a genuine experience of their culture through everything from meeting up for a cup of coffee, to taking them to their favorite restaurant (that most tourists never see), to sharing their home with the Trippers.

For me, being a Host through Tripping would give me the perfect opportunity for re-charging my “Appreciation of the City” battery.   Also, as a Host I would in turn be able to experience part of the Trippers’ culture just by hosting them.

Interacting with strangers who are intrigued by other cultures and genuinely want to experience the country on more than just a superficial touristy level I foresee as being very positive.  I’ve traveled a lot and stayed in strangers’ homes, and I always ended up making friends.  That’s the beauty of hosting a Tripper; then when I want to visit their home country, I will have friends with whom I can stay.


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