You may have landed in a city of millions, but business travel still can be an isolating experience. Once a day full of meetings is over and you have had enough wining and dining, the question inevitably comes up: “Now what?”
Well, forget spending an evening trapped in your hotel room or dining solo at the mediocre restaurant conveniently located down the street. The reality is, you can mix business with pleasure while traveling solo—and the best part is, with the fast and furious rise of peer-to-peer experiences, you do not have to do it all alone!
Below are some services to take advantage of when you need to combat that sense of loneliness that creeps in when you’re away from familiar faces.
The concept: These highly curated adventures from Airbnb™ were naturally the next step for the sharing economy giant. Arranged and hosted by local residents who possess an entrepreneurial spirit or who simply wish to share a passion, Experiences provides travelers with a unique perch from which to see, taste, and hear the local culture. From a three-hour jaunt exploring the hottest street fashion in Tokyo to a two-day excursion hunting for and tasting truffles in Florence and every offbeat, thrilling, and enlightening activity in between, these adventures certainly are not your grandparents’ kind of travel tour.
How to join in the fun: You will need to use the Airbnb app on your phone or tablet to book an experience. It will not work from your laptop (trust us, we’ve tried). When you open the app, look for the Experiences section. Then choose a specific city and dates, or browse through all experiences and filter by various categories, such as arts, entertainment, sports, and food and drink.
Please note: To participate in these activities, guests must verify their identity by scanning a government-issued ID such as a passport or driver’s license as well as snapping a selfie.
The concept: Considered the “Airbnb of global dining,” EatWith is a wonderful alternative for business travelers tired of eating out at restaurants and who crave a beautifully prepared, home-cooked meal in the company of, well, um, total strangers. The way it works is, properly vetted chefs open up their homes to several strangers—usually six to eight—for a carefully put-together prix fixe meal. It’s a great way to meet new people, participate in stimulating conversation, try exotic new foods, and get to know a different side of the city you’re visiting.
How to join in the fun: After selecting a location (EatWith is available in 200 cities across the globe) and a chef based on the cuisine you’d like to sample, make a booking online. The host has 24 hours to confirm your reservation and send you full details of the event, including the address and contact information. Check the event description to see if the chef will be providing alcohol or if it’s « bring your own. » And be sure to arrive on time! You don’t want to be stuck at a dinner table with seven hungry strangers giving you side-eye. By the way, events book up fast in certain cities, so be sure to make a reservation promptly.
Other similar services to check out: VizEat, EatWith’s Parisian cousin offered in 110 countries; Meals With, a no-frills option available in 450 cities; and LetsLunch, for those who can’t help but mix pleasure with networking.