NB: This is a guest article by Ryan Dwyer, a recent college graduate who is spending the next three months travelling around the US.
If the internet made the world into a community, social media is making it into a family. Complete strangers can catch a ride, bum a bed, and meet up for dinner.
People are using other people to travel. But these services are still in their infancy, and the sheer number of them make it difficult to separate the crap from the incredible.
I am starting a road trip around the United States in my 1982 VW Westfalia. I plan to use social media and collaborative consumption services to keep my fuel and lodging expenses to $1000 over the course of three months (that’s $11 a day).
I think I can do it.
I will use a variety of services to determine how they measure up in the real world.
- Are they easy to use, practical, and efficient?
- Are they better than traditional travel?
- Do they save money or waste time?
This is a real life test to see if travel has truly been revolutionized by social technology. Here is a list of the services I plan to use during my social, collaborative road trip:
A ride sharing service that pairs you with friendly passengers and drivers. The website is incredibly intuitive and easy to use. Sign in with your Facebook account and find rides in minutes.
I will use Ridejoy to find passengers who will make road tripping fun and help cut gas costs.
A cultural exchange first, and free housing second. This service has a huge community of wonderful travelers who love to share stories and open couches.
You can make friends on the road, and help someone out when you’re home. I will use Couchsurfing to meet friendly locals and stay for free.
Another intuitive site that you can use to find housing rentals by the night. Hosts list a room for a certain price, and you pay to stay. It’s not free like couch surfing, but it provides a more formal experience without the extortion of staying in a hotel.
I want to use this site, but most listing run too high for my budget. I hope to get the chance to try it out.
Why couch surf if you already have a friend who lives in town? This website shows you where you have connections, and hooks you up with friends and friends of friends who live in different cities.
I will use this site to find friends who live in various cities around the US.
Love activities but don’t have any friends? Not anymore. This group connects people who can meet up based on mutual interests. Plan events and get to know people who like the same stuff you do!
I will use this site to spice up my travels whenever I get bored.
Trip planning based on reviews by people like you. Gogobot is trying to make trip planning easy and fun with a nicely designed site and user recommendations.
I will use this site to plan activities in various cities as I travel.
A comprehensive site listing thousands of jobs that can be done on the road with only a computer and internet access. Find the right job and work while you travel.
I am going to use this site to do freelance writing and editing work to make some extra cash.
Everyone knows about Craigslist, but it is still important to bring it up here. It is a fantastic go-to site, but there are other services that specialize in certain things like ride sharing.
These websites do a better job at the specific service, but Craigslist has strength in numbers. I will use Craigslist as a backup for anything else I might need.
There are many other great websites out there, but I think these are the best and most practical for a road trip in the United States at this time.
These have passed the initial stage in this experiment, as they have good design or have a lot to offer as a service.
The next test is try them in real life. I will be back soon to give my analysis of how they perform in the field, and if they offer a viable alternative to traditional travel services.
NB:¬†This is a guest article by¬†Ryan Dwyer, a recent college graduate who is spending the next three months travelling around the US.
NB2: Road trip image via Shutterstock.