by: Martin Sleegers
Ever overheard a conversation between travellers? It becomes clear within minutes that the most popular stories revolve around “having dinner in a local family’s home” or “discovering the hidden gems away from the beaten track”.
When roaming the internet looking for nice travel initiatives, I came across this new website called Withlocals.com. I was quite taken by the mind-set of Withlocals. By using the principles of the sharing economy, Withlocals enables people to earn a sustainable income by doing something they are passionate about. Everybody is good at something and this is exactly what tourism in the 21st century should be about. Co-founder Willem Maas mentions that every time he travelled abroad, the best tips, insights and dinners were provided by local hosts he met on his journey.
There are already many countries in Asia on the platform, but the Withlocals Tours in Sri Lanka, Home Dinners and Activities seem most interesting to me. For instance, Roshan offers a great cooking class, followed by a home dinner. Also, he is willing to share the folklore and myths surrounding Sri Lankan cooking! If you are more of an outdoorsy type and want to explore the nature, the Activities in Sri Lanka are perfect for this: Gracian can take you on a trek in the Udawattakele forest, teaching you everything about the local flora and fauna. Whether you are a local or a host, advantages seem to go both ways.
For tourists, it is a great way to help boost the local economy and to experience the real culture and habits of a country. Also, it is a way to form new friendships that may last a lifetime. For locals, it is the perfect way to earn money with something they do daily. Also, locals can meet new cultures and give information to the tourists about their home country.
In short, this is definitely something I will keep an eye on and possibly try out myself someday! Check out their website if you like to browse through more activities, tours or home dinners in Southeast Asia.