HOUSTON (KTRK) -- There used to be a time when you would travel to a new city, book a hotel, and ask the concierge where the best place to eat or play was.
Now, travel-related apps and services let tourists ask those who are really in the know- the locals!
Many times, visitors can eat and play right along with the locals. A service called Eatwith connects chefs with local travelers looking for a more authentic experience. The meal is shared with total strangers in the cook's home.
"It's a great way for people to meet someone who's local. If you're traveling to a country but you want a local experience," said Eatwith user Raleigh Clemens.
Out of towners say it gives them a totally different perspective on the city.
Experts say a different perspective is driving the growth of apps and services like Eatwith.
The founder of Skift, a travel-industry trend tracker, says the shift in travel is for those who want to find the hidden secrets of a city.
"A big trend is happening in the travel industry. Having deeper experiences as you travel, going to places that locals go," said Skift founder Rafat Ali.
Many of the most popular tools are centered on shared meals, but others connect travelers with locals for socializing, concierge type services, and bike or car sharing.
"The benefit of using these types of apps is that, one you get experiences beyond the manufactured experiences that are there. The tour bus, the museum tour. The specialized ones are still small. Everybody's trying to figure out what is that one thing that will make it grow," Ali said.
Sharing economy expert Lisa Gansky sees them exploding. She also says they are going to find you cheaper ways to travel than the traditional tourist fare. But that's not what keeps travelers coming back.
"We see the pattern, which is the first couple times I use it it's because it's cheaper. I continue to use it because it makes me feel really good. I meet amazing people," Gansky.
If you're considering checking out apps and services for this type of experience on your next trip, Rafat says do your research to see which are popular in the city you're visiting.
When it comes to meeting strangers, always keep safety in mind.
"A lot of these apps have ratings both ways, which means you as a user can rate the host but the host can also rate the user," Gansky said.
Experts call this experiential travel because you get a hands-on experience of a city than you might not get to otherwise. No one knows a city like the people who live there!
The apps and services we found are:
Service that connects chefs with local foodies or travelers looking for a more authentic meal shared in the cook's home.
From home kitchens to pop up cooking events, Feastly also connects travelers to local chefs.
UrbanBuddy connects travelers to locals that they can use as a concierge service to help guide them on the best restaurants and entertainment using real-time chat.
RelayRides allows you to rent a car from locals for a fraction of the price of a rental car company.
The free app can enhance your nightlife by connecting you with locals who know some of the hottest bars and clubs at your destination.
TripTogether and TourBar
To save money on lodging and expenses, these apps both connect travelers going to the same destination.
A ride-sharing program that connects people who need to travel with drivers who have empty seats.
Choose your destination and the kinds of things you like, and this app will you give you recommendations on things to do and places to stay based on people like you.
UrbanDaddy is a free email magazine devoted to keeping you in the know on food, style, entertainment, travel, and more.
Tell Stray Boots where you are traveling to and they will provide you with a scavenger hunt to make sure you see all there is to see!
Book a private dining experience for your group or join an open dining event in a local chef's home, supper club, restaurant, vineyard, and more! null
Travel like a local with these apps