I travel for people, not for statues!
By: Shana Zheng
CheapOair (“cheap tickets from CheapOair”) recently featured me as a guest blogger so I can share what travel means to me. The bottom line is that I love to travel and more importantly, meet new friends. I find it to be the best learning experience. You can find the blog post here as well as on the Cheapoair blog site. Here it goes…
I recently received the following note from a fellow Triptrotter that really sums up how important the “people” factor is when you travel. Whether it’s an adventure with an old friend or making new ones, a solo trip is just too boring by yourself. I travel for people, not for the statues.
“TT (Triptrotting) rocks, I had an amazing time last night and met some really great lifelong friends. Thanks!!!” – Brad (Visual Effects Editor) from Los Angeles meeting new Triptrotters in Budapest.
For me, I’ve always traveled growing up but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I really had my “Ah Ha” moment on my first trip to Dubai with my college friend and now business partner Aigerim. I had heard about Dubai from newspapers and television as the place where everything was possible. The biggest, the tallest, and the fastest anything can be found there. I had no clue what to expect and my imagination of the Middle East had images of Aladdin and camels – I’m a bit embarrassed but this was years ago and I’ve learned since. After arriving there for a few days, I made up my mind that Dubai was really bigger version of Las Vegas.
Very few people were actual locals and everything was really bigger and taller. Everyone also seemed to be incredibly rich. It wasn’t until I had the chance to meet a few locals (real locals- most people in Dubai are expats!) did I get a chance to learn more about the real Dubai and its history from the locals’ perspective. Underneath the glamour of what we saw to be a Vegas–like tourism destination, there was the local view of the changes to their city. For hours, we discussed everything from economics to culture, the West to East – probably one of the most enlightening and memorable conversations I’ve ever had. It seemed that in a place of tradition, there is an ever increasing gap between what is “traditional” and what is “modern” and “westernized.” To hear a local’s perspective was incredibly valuable.
Through my travels, I’ve seen lots of statues, fountains, elephants, monkeys (and got bit by one), river cruises, towers, castles, walls, you name it. What really made them memorable has always been the people which I share those experiences with, old and new. For me, travel has a great way truly connect with all the places that I have visited. From Thailand to Dubai, France to Los Angeles, I’ve found great friends in each place that makes me want to go back whenever possible.
These experiences have inspired a new way to think about traveling – Triptrotting. Triptrotting is a community that connects you with like-minded friends all over the world. Whether it’s in your own city or abroad, you can find “like-minded” Triptrotters who are also interested in meeting up. It gives the traveler a way to get a true local’s perspective and provides hosts a way to make new friends from abroad. We enlisted the help of Galen Buckwalter, the prior Chief Scientist at eHarmony to help us create a matching algorithm that lets Triptrotters see how like-minded they are with other members. If he can help you find the love of your life, a friend can’t be that difficult right?