I have an exciting new travel app to show you. I have been trialling the Kiwi/US-developed HerePin and thought I would share my experience with this very interesting social travel app.
I plan the vast majority of mine and my family’s travel myself. It’s important to me to travel independently, putting as much as I can directly into communities and interacting with locals where I travel.
I do my travel research (mostly online but I still sometimes use old-fashioned guide books), design an itinerary, book travel and accommodation and then we set off to discover a new destination with huge excitement.
But on a day-to-day basis, most of our travel is pretty spontaneous because really rewarding travel is about being really present in the moment. When you are travelling you have to make it up as you go along.
Where to eat out? What activities are going to suit the family’s energy levels on that particular day? How are we going to have the most authentic travel day possible?
My reliance and trust in supposedly user-generated recommendation sites like TripAdvisor is at an all-time low (to put it politely). In my experience even when the reviews are genuine, they are seldom posted by like-minded travellers.
That’s where HerePin, a new local messaging app for travellers, comes in very useful. HerePin is a location-based social media app that integrates with Facebook’s interface and allows users to interact with other travellers and locals in the area.
Members post short updates (a bit like a status update) and are able to interact with each other, looking for travel inspiration and/or to meet other travellers.
Members can comment on posts, view profiles and participate in message chats. They ‘pin’ personal recommendations for attractions and activities on their profile and that information becomes a resource for other travellers.
Pins often include photos and specific tips on the location, to help you decide whether this recommendation will be helpful to you. I’ve also noticed people posting requests for information/recommendations and getting some great comments back in reply.
HerePin is already getting big in its homebase of New Zealand and it is already worldwide in scope.
How HerePin works
The app is free and easy to download from both Google Plan for Android and the App Store for iPhones.
Once I had created an account (you can sign in either through Facebook or with your email address) I set up a profile, including what sort of travel gets you excited. This is really quick to do as it automatically pulls your profile pic etc. from your Facebook.
Then it’s time to start using HerePin to find things to do.
The default radius on HerePin is 25km, which should easily cover your surroundings, but you can expand this to cover the whole country while you are researching your travel and then shrink it down to the immediate vicinity (as narrow as one kilometre) once you’re actually travelling and want to keep an eye out for cool stuff nearby.
Set the desired location by dragging the red pin and alter the radius using the +/- bar at the bottom of the screen. You can use your current location or set a specific location manually. This feature allows you to control how much information appears in your feed, which is important these days!
Once I have set my location I check the live feed, which shows me what other travellers are doing or saying in the area. In many ways it is the recommendations of locals that I value the most. Guidebooks and even blogs become out of date so quickly but real-time tips from people who live there? That’s gold.
Not just for travelling overseas
My attitude is that we are always travelling. Not just when we’re on holiday but even during routine weeks at home. That’s why I like to live in different countries, because exploring your backyard, whether with cultural enrichment or micro-adventures, is still travel in my book!
HerePin will really come into its own for local travel inspiration in a big city like London. I’m just waiting to discover my local happy hour!
I found HerePin easy to set up and fun to use. I’m predicting it’s going to grow exponentially and recommending it to everyone I know. So download HerePin, come and find me, and try it for yourself!
By Natasha von Geldern
Have you tried HerePin? Let me know what you think about it!