Although I have traveled to every country in the world, I feel like I am only just getting started and want to travel so much more. For example, because I have visited only a handful of places in Brazil, there is so much of the country I have yet to see. So it was in 2017 that I was traveling through Transylvania, Romania, where I had the thought that we all want to travel more but spend less. That’s where the idea of Holiday Swap was born.
The app focuses on encouraging people to Explore More, and it allows swapping of accommodations with a large social media element tied in.
With the ‘Always Bag Packed’ feature you can use your accommodation as your commodity to make social connections around the world and swap when it suits you! With hotel and homestay prices continuing to go up, it opens up destinations to a whole new demographic of traveler that you may not be currently capturing – those who can save on their biggest outgoing and have more money to spend on the things they love while traveling. Dream destinations have just become much more accessible and cheaper!
Although I had some great adventures traveling solo, it was the experiences that I was able to share with others that I value the most. To me, travel isn’t just about finding yourself. Instead, it’s about forging connections with others. Smile and say yes as much as possible. You never know where each risk can take you.
- James Asquith, the Official Guinness World Record holder for being the youngest person to travel to every country in the world before the age of 25.
At Holiday Swap, we’re hoping to encourage the next generation of travelers. Part social media app, part booking site, it allows users to “like” certain destinations, communicate with the people living there, and, if they so choose, swap homes with the ones they forge connections with. “It takes away the largest cost of travel, and the social media side also means that you’ll have a virtual tour guide before your trip,” Asquith explains of the community he hopes to inspire with the app. “You can basically build up connections around the world for when you want to travel. I’m lucky enough that through my travels I can hop on a plane and know people in my destination. I want everyone to have more of that.”
Holiday Swap is becoming the most exciting and cheapest tool in the travel industry by taking away the ever increasing cost of accommodation with traditional booking sites. Already in 50 countries, Business Insider is quoted as saying “A Tinder-style social media platform that lets travelers swap accommodation around the world” – Business Insider
James on dealing with uncertainty in the road and some scary moments:
It was certainly scary at times, and maybe I was a little naive as well. But I had so much energy to explore and discover the world. There are some countries that have been in a state of civil war and been dangerous for decades, so I thought if I said, “I’ll wait to see how the situation develops,” I may still be waiting. I visited Syria when the country was peaceful for example, and Afghanistan when it was a warzone – both opposites to a large extent now.
My timing was not great! Afghanistan I walked into from Uzbekistan and it was a pretty hairy place to be for sure. Yemen is notoriously difficult to visit, and many of the concerns with visiting Yemen and Somalia were of personal security once there. Common sense was obviously vital, as well as forward planning, but of course, when you ask how I managed, luck plays a massive role in dangerous zones. Of course there were culture shocks, but after my first couple of trips, I had a very open mind and I always expected the unexpected. The two things that were important to me when I traveled were having patience and a sense of humour, to get you through those tough times when things may not be easy. There have been situations where I have had guns put against my head and knives against my throat, and I would be lying if I said that wasn’t scary – but it wouldn’t stop me putting myself into precarious situations again.
I had an open mind through my initial travels, and I still do when I travel. We are so similar as people in many ways, that having positive thoughts means that everything becomes a learning experience – and so I tried to find similarities rather than differences between us.
What James loved most about travelling and what kept him going:
Meeting new people and the journey, often both at the same time. I love the anticipation of traveling to a new destination and meeting people along the way that you can bounce ideas off and explore with together. People were the part of my adventure that made it what it was. Although I had some great adventures traveling solo, it was the experiences that I was able to share with others that I value the most
James’ top travel tips for meaningful solo travel and traveling on a budget:
Take the plunge. I was sceptical at first and just kind of went along with it, but it was the best thing I ever did. You educate yourself in ways you can’t imagine, and you gain a newfound respect and knowledge for other people, cultures, religions, and traditions. You will meet amazing people along the way and even people that you may not get on with, but who play a role in shaping who you may become. Traveling doesn’t have to be about “finding yourself,” but it certainly taught me an incredible amount about myself and the world when I traveled solo. Smile and say yes as much as possible. You never know where each risk can take you.
Budget is actually very personal to tastes, and guidebooks will always try to “budget per day,” but to be honest, you know your own tastes right down to the food you order from a street stall or item off a restaurant menu. Sure, you may splurge more on certain tours or a nice place to stay, but the harder you work, the more you have to travel and budget for that. It’s more about time than budget. We can always take more time to work extra jobs to pay for our next trip, but time is the finite commodity, so budget that well. Both at home and on the road.
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