Do you know your city? Be a ‘local cousin’, help tourists discover Mumbai
A new website helps you connect with newcomers to your city, and ’local cousins’ in destinations that you plan to visittravel Updated: Oct 08, 2016 19:28 IST
Know the city well? Sign up and help travellers skip the tourist traps for your favourite spots and secret finds.
Started in January last year, Your Local Cousin (YLC) is a New York-based travel company set up by Indian cousins Kunal Jain and Aarti Kanodia, both 34. Here, travellers connect with locals who match their interests, and get customised itineraries.
For instance, if you aren’t interested in the Elephanta Caves, locals can help you find the city’s best vada pav joint instead, or take you on a Bollywood-themed tour. Locals can specialise in a category or interest — solo, backpacking, heritage, food, alcohol, family and so on.
They do not physically accompany the traveller, but create a detailed itinerary for them, complete with how much time you should spend at each place. Travellers need to pay $15 (about Rs 1,000) for 20 text questions or a 30-minute phone call. Custom itinerary costs vary according to the number of days.
“Unlike travel websites that are filled with numerous, confusing reviews, YLC experts curate recommendations based on what the individual traveller is interested in,” says Jain.
To be a local cousin, you should know the city well and have a good command over spoken English. While travellers pay the website for consultation services, locals are paid for their suggestions, based on the mode of communication — Skype, Whatsapp or email.
Each local must first get on a Skype call with the founders, and answer questions about the city. They will be background checked on social media platforms too.
In March this year, Juhu resident Michelle Yadav, 34, travelled to Greece, looking for off-beat experiences. “Through YLC, I got suggestions for homestays, hamlets to visit and local eateries. I toured a jam and pickle factory in Athens, to understand the lifestyle of the local farmers,” says Yadav.
Once back in Mumbai, Yadav returned the favour and signed up to be a local. When a family of four visiting the city from France got in touch, they were looking to explore Mumbai’s film and lifestyle cultures. “I built a schedule for them that included visits to the Mehboob film studio in Bandra and various restaurants that serve different Indian cuisines such as Mahesh Lunch Home, Gajalees, Leopold Cafe and Jimmy Boy,” she says.
Similarly, 41-year-old Akshay Malavi, a YLC expert based in Andaman, helps tourists with sports for each season, rickshaw driver contacts and resorts that are close to the islands. “Most websites offer generic suggestions, but YLC really lets you take in the local flavour of a place,” he says.