If Couchsurfing.com, which connects travelers looking for a place to stay with those offering to share their home, and Viator.com, which finds and books tours and travel experiences, had a baby, Tripzaar would be their bright and smiley first-born.
What it does: The website is an online database of friendly hosts who want to give travelers a local's tour of their town, for a price. View and book a trip itinerary complete with a local resident guide before you step off the plane. Adventure levels vary.
What's hot: Itineraries tend to be well thought out and more complex than a general four-hour tour with a local guide. I was drawn to the seven-night surfing trip in Costa Rica ($1,675) that included accommodations, daily surf lessons, two yoga sessions, breakfast, airport transfers, as well as two adventure tours to local waterfalls and an off-road Jeep tour. Click on "View Trip" to see the day-by-day itinerary, guide description and photos of what to expect. Make sure to take note of "What's not included" so you know when you'll be on your own or will need to pay additional fees.
What's not: I wanted to see a global map of trips offered or thematic categories in a drop-down menu. As I was typing cities in the search bar, several major cities in the U.S. and Europe had nothing. And the trips can vary, so you might see one trip with accommodations but not in another. Read the trips as if you are reading an anthology, and don't be surprised if you skip some trips to dig into the ones you really like. The site is young, but bookmark and check before your next adventure.
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun