Living like a local has become a defining travel trend of the last half-decade. Ben Brown checks out Zipskee, a social platform that helps you make friends overseas.

Launched in July, new travel service Zipskee aims to put personal connections and off-the-beaten-track recommendations at the heart of modern travel.

Part social-network, part recommendation site, Zipskee gives you the chance to make a friend in every city, and a guide to show you the best restaurants, bars or culture spots.

The best travel moments happen when you go off the beaten track and embrace the unexpected. When you discover a hidden cafe, an old book-store or forgotten part of the city.

The lasting memories are the ones of real people and the meaningful connections you make on the road. Or when you see a new city through the eyes of a local, and hear first-hand accounts of its culture and history.

What better way to see a new city than have a local show you around?Friends through Zipskee“Living like a local” has become one of the defining travel trends of the last half-decade. Gaining traction through services such as Airbnb and CouchSurfing.org, travellers are increasingly inclined to stay in “peer-to-peer lodging” and interact with their hosts, forging a relationship with locals and getting insider tips about the area.

Zipskee is the latest service to tap into this trend, offering a hub for people to connect with locals and find a personal guide. A kind of Tinder for travellers (only, without the romance element) Zipskee pairs travellers with guides based on their language and interests.

Exploring the website myself, I am prompted to upload a profile picture, enter my spoken languages, and choose from a menu of preferences (cafes, bars and lounges, outdoor sports, literature, museums, etc.) After choosing a city, Zipskee then displays a number of matches. Hitting the “chat” icon on your chosen guide allows you to message them directly, ask for recommendations or arrange a meet-up.

CEO and co-founder Evan Hung was inspired to create Zipskee after a particularly unforgettable trip to Australia. He says: “While travelling, I wanted a deeper cultural experience. I had one Australian friend who was gracious enough to show me the real Australia, and I thought, ‘How great would it be if everyone had a friend like that in every city they visited?’

“And so, Zipskee was created to fill this gap. With Zipskee, users can find meaningful experiences with local guides or other travellers looking to learn about a destination outside of what’s in their guidebook – all while making unforgettable lifelong friendships.”

Zipskee allows you to build friendships all over the world, with the goal of bringing the world closer together and inspiring more meaningful journeys.Travel like a local with ZipskeeBack on the website, I browse through various profiles for guides in New York, which you can filter by their interests. Each guide provides a little information about themselves and lists their favourite things to do in their home town or city. Each guide has a percentage rating based on previous interactions and travellers can leave references for their guides, much like Airbnb.

Hung says: “The world is filled with amazing people, beautiful landscapes, and unique experiences – yet in such a well-connected world, it shouldn’t be so difficult for travellers to connect with locals or other travellers to genuinely experience a destination. With Zipskee, it no longer needs to be a challenge.”

The concept of “community traveling” has been explored before, but not in Zipskee’s social media format. City Socializer, for example, helps you find social groups and meet-ups in various cities around the world.

Skout is an app that allows you to find like-minded people in whichever city you’re in. Iceland Air even has a “Stopover Buddy Service” that matches travellers stopping over in Iceland with a pal to show them around.

Airbnb has also launched a beta service called City Hosts. It invites people to book an “immersive experience” lead by a local expert. For example, you can join a Hollywood stuntman at Muscle Beach for a day’s work out, go to a music studio with a London producer or create an authentic Italian meal with a chef in Tuscany.

As technology continues to bring people together, Globetrender predicts that personal recommendations and services like Zipskee will become a bigger part of the travel experience.

Zipskee is currently available via a desktop and mobile optimised website, but an Android and iOS app are coming soon. Additional features to be added will include a city search option for local events and GPS integration.

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