Reclaiming Travel

There is an awesome piece in The NY Times’ Opinionator today called Reclaiming Travel that you must read. If you’re into history, you’ll appreciate the comparison of travel in the past vs. the present.

The point: travel used to be about the journey and the search for the unknown. Today, travel – in becoming relatively easy compared to what it used to be – has become devalued and essentially commoditized. It’s just an excuse to “get away” from your current routine. It’s lost that lust for exploration, for learning, and for adventure. Hopping on a cruise ship isn’t travel, its tourism. It’s taking your current life, transplanting it onto a ship, and simply “looking” at things. You aren’t immersing yourself in a new culture. You aren’t engaging with different people from foreign places. There isn’t a challenge that you have to overcome, or even think about overcoming.

The stark contrast of travel vs. tourism – and the shift in consumption we are seeing with the rise of the sharing economy – is what excites us most here at RidePost. The shared economy is re-opening the gates for that authentic quest for the unknown. We think it’s going to flip the travel industry on its head, just as we’re already seeing in the hotel sector, with AirBnb as the principal leader.  No longer are local experiences limited to the locals; by tapping into the shared economy and the millions of micro-entrepreneurs on the web, you can reclaim that true travel experience you are after.

As far as transportation goes…well, we think this is the next frontier of the collaborative consumption revolution. In many ways our interactions online are facilitating an improved offline experience, and one that is going to change travel as we know it. The transparency of our online reputation is growing, and it’s going to serve as the currency we use to buy unique and genuine experiences, with people we haven’t met, but know – with the aid of the internet.

By investing in our online reputation, and effectively building our social currency, we are building a community of trust. This community, as it continues to grow, is taking us back in time to experiences as they used to happen (and, I’d argue, were meant to happen). Travel is a great example of this. Travel is being reinvented in the peer-to-peer (P2P) community. People don’t want to just “get away.” They want that quest for something new. They want to localize and authenticate their travel experience – something easily achieved staying in someone’s home with the help of CouchSurfing or AirBnb, or hitting the road with someone via RidePost. It’s taking that leap of faith, and opting to do something different from the norm.

I think Reclaiming Travel made some very legitimate points. But I think it failed to capture the onset of the collaborative movement, and the shifts in consumption that are coming with it. RidePost is especially optimistic that we can take travel back to the values of old, remixed with the technologies of new. We truly believe we are the missing piece to this puzzle: we are going to change the way you travel, and we can’t wait.

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