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Old 12-08-2017, 09:17 PM   #1
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Finding local info

While I'm still dreaming of an airstream of my own, my wife and I have recently taken our first two trips in a rented RV.

These trips got me thinking about an issue that I wanted to bring up and get some feedback from those of you who have been traveling around a while.

When we got to our destinations, we were quick to look at the usual review sites for places to go/see, but I rarely find the information all that useful in helping us make a decision.

What I find much more useful, is striking up a conversation with a local and getting their recommendations or advice.

Being of the iPhone generation, this got me thinking about whether there could be an app that could emulate this experience, and let people connect with locals based on common food interests or common activities.

My question to the community is this:

What resources, other than this forum, do you use when traveling, and would you be interested in an app that could provide the service described?

Thanks in advance for any input,

-Ryan
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Old 12-08-2017, 09:55 PM   #2
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LimaVictor... the “locals”... Police, Fire... telephone line repair, utilities guys in the field... mechanics... liquor store owners... farm/feed store... farmer... veterinary clinic... grocers...

I don’t know how much “social media” is useful or not in this hobby. I would not want the “quiet” places searchable.... otherwise they usually lose their attraction... I hope you get my point.

Even in my youth, I never gave my best “fishing hole” or hunting location to anyone.. without being a trusted friend... (if the first couple of decoys aren’t revealed and aren’t abused they get better sites)..

This will continue to be a concern with RV folks as it is in many areas.. it only takes a few to ruin a place... so people are getting more cautious... so.... there are folks sharing info in this forum, it dictates respectful use. With “social apps” all that screening and protection is gone.
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Old 12-08-2017, 10:40 PM   #3
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The Allstays app is widely used by AirForums members— including me— for locating campgrounds, and includes links to the campground websites (if there is one) and links to campground reviews (if there are any), as well as listing the number of campsites, amenities provided, approximate cost (on a $ to $$$$ scale), and a contact telephone number.

In addition, for finding Corps of Engineers campgrounds, there is the Corps Lakes Gateway website.

Good Sam Club and Passport America have online directories of member campgrounds as well as iPhone/Android apps.

Many State-owned campgrounds nationwide are listed on the ReserveAmerica website, where you can make reservations, download campground maps, and find out about amenities and special events at said campgrounds.

Many states also have contracted with Pocket Ranger for apps that provide information about their State Parks. Not every state has a Pocket Ranger app, but many do.

For Federal-level campgrounds, Reservation.gov offers the same information as ReserveAmerica, in much the same format.

Social organizations such as Elks Clubs provide RV parking to members, and publish extensive lists of clubhouses that have RV parking.

If you want to find local attractions, those who enjoy history can check out the History Channel's own app, History Here, that accesses your phone's GPS to tell you about historical sites in whatever area you're visiting.

If you're looking for places to eat while traveling, Roadfood.com (by Jane and Michael Stern, authors of the Roadfood books) is a great web resource, but doesn't have an app. For finer dining, there is the OpenTable app.

The iExit app will tell you all of the facilities available near any Interstate highway off-ramp. The print version is called Next Exit, and is updated annually; I'd rather use the app that's also updated annually or more often, and doesn't require me to buy a new edition every year.

For those that still prefer paper and printer's ink instead of clean recycled electrons on an LED screen, nearly every state visitor's center located near the state line on major highways has rack upon rack of brochures about campgrounds, places to go, and things to do in the state (often neatly subdivided by region in the state), and many even have RV dump stations conveniently located near the on-ramps leading from the visitor's center back onto the highway.

There is no shortage of resources available for people who want to locate campgrounds, either months in advance to make reservations, or on the fly for those whose travel plans are made just hours in advance while already on the road.
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Old 12-08-2017, 10:57 PM   #4
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You bring up a couple of great points:

-I work in the community of first responders and know what a valuable resource fire, police, and ems personnel are. I've often relied on their local knowledge and always try to return the favor. But even first responders have different tastes and interests. Doesn't do any good to ask a fireman who doesn't run which of 3 different trails would be best for a run.

-Your point about what I call "protected" or "privileged" information is absolutely correct...there will always be things that locals will keep guarded. What I'm thinking of doesn't try to circumvent this level of protection.

The specific incident that spawned this thought was when my wife and I were looking for a quiet coffee shop to visit before going for a morning hike. In this instance, I was interested in two things:

-What coffee shop would a local recommend, based on the kind of breakfast we were looking for...not really "privileged" information, but a chance for a local to support their local business.

-We already had a couple of trails picked out for our hike, but conditions were likely to be variable, and I wanted to ask someone who had been on any of them recently, again, not exactly "privileged" information given that we already knew about them, but had no way of knowing current conditions and they were far enough apart, that we had to make a decision and commit.

I guess what I'm trying to say, in so many words, is that I'm not trying to make private information public, but to make the vast amount of public information more accessible while giving locals an opportunity to support their community and share information that they are willing to share.

Thank you for your input, I appreciate that you took the time to consider my post and reply,

-Ryan



Quote:
Originally Posted by cwf View Post
LimaVictor... the “locals”... Police, Fire... telephone line repair, utilities guys in the field... mechanics... liquor store owners... farm/feed store... farmer... veterinary clinic... grocers...

I don’t know how much “social media” is useful or not in this hobby. I would not want the “quiet” places searchable.... otherwise they usually lose their attraction... I hope you get my point.

Even in my youth, I never gave my best “fishing hole” or hunting location to anyone.. without being a trusted friend... (if the first couple of decoys aren’t revealed and aren’t abused they get better sites)..

This will continue to be a concern with RV folks as it is in many areas.. it only takes a few to ruin a place... so people are getting more cautious... so.... there are folks sharing info in this forum, it dictates respectful use. With “social apps” all that screening and protection is gone.
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Old 12-08-2017, 11:25 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LimaVictor View Post
I guess what I'm trying to say, in so many words, is that I'm not trying to make private information public, but to make the vast amount of public information more accessible while giving locals an opportunity to support their community and share information that they are willing to share.
It appears that I misunderstood the thrust of your original post. For that I apologize.

If you're looking to "crowd-source" information for every town in America (and Canada, can't forget our northern Airstreamer brethren), you face a truly daunting task, first to set up the social media site, and then to gather information, weed out the chaff, keep the gems, organize it all by both location and field of interest, and keep it all current. A failure of any of those aspects could cripple your project. If you can do it successfully, then I applaud both your initiative and ability.

One source of "local" information that I didn't mention in my previous post, that is sometimes used by rally organizers but seldom by individual travelers, is the local Chamber of Commerce. Much of the local information handed out in a typical Airstream rally info pack comes from the local Chamber.
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Old 12-08-2017, 11:56 PM   #6
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I appreciate the clarification and the chamber of commerce reference.

That hits on a key aspect of what I'm thinking of...while CoC and visitor's centers can be useful, there's also a wealth of knowledge from locals that I feel is largely inaccessible.

Another aspect of what I'm thinking of deals with the relationship between review sites (like Yelp) and local small businesses. The more research I've done, the more it seems small businesses are limited in regards to their options when it comes to alternatives to review sites. Yelp has been accused of some pretty shady practices that strong arm small businesses into either paying for advertising or losing standing with ratings.

I have a handful of places that I visit regularly around my own local area, but I rarely if ever review or rate a place, while I have recommended many of them multiple times.

On the other side of the coin, I would much rather get a recommendation from a local than pick a place based on reviews. And for some things, there simply aren't reviews to be had.

So while an aggregated data set of crowd sourced local knowledge would indeed be great, I'm more interested in a platform that would allow people, with no previous connection, to connect via shared interests to exchange information like a good restaurant recommendation, local trail conditions, or which bar might have live music or trivia nights, without having to scour any number of resources to find it.

Thanks again for the input,

-Ryan

Quote:
Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
It appears that I misunderstood the thrust of your original post. For that I apologize.

If you're looking to "crowd-source" information for every town in America (and Canada, can't forget our northern Airstreamer brethren), you face a truly daunting task, first to set up the social media site, and then to gather information, weed out the chaff, keep the gems, organize it all by both location and field of interest, and keep it all current. A failure of any of those aspects could cripple your project. If you can do it successfully, then I applaud both your initiative and ability.

One source of "local" information that I didn't mention in my previous post, that is sometimes used by rally organizers but seldom by individual travelers, is the local Chamber of Commerce. Much of the local information handed out in a typical Airstream rally info pack comes from the local Chamber.
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Old 12-09-2017, 04:29 AM   #7
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Sometines just googling hiking trails or bike routes in a certain area can get useful info. Last time we were inohio we did this and it worked well.
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Old 12-09-2017, 04:37 AM   #8
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I also use the Chamber of Commerce and local Visitor Information Centers, also look at the stand of brochures that many campgrounds have in their offices.

Verbal recommendations from locals are also good, and you can also write ahead of time for information to be mailed to you.

I don’t know that I would use an app...

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Old 12-09-2017, 07:14 AM   #9
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Coffee shop first. Then the local bakery. Buy some donuts. Take the donuts to the nearest hardware store.

For a donut the clerk at the hardware store will spill everything, including where to buy the best local herbs and nightcrawlers.
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