Local Intelligence

Every tourist could use a little local knowledge. That’s why British entrepreneur Sally Broom started Your Safe Planet, an Internet-based service that matches independent travelers with locals in countries as far flung as China, Ecuador, and Rwanda. For about $90, the company pairs tourists with a local guide even before a trip begins. E-mailing with ...

Every tourist could use a little local knowledge. That's why British entrepreneur Sally Broom started Your Safe Planet, an Internet-based service that matches independent travelers with locals in countries as far flung as China, Ecuador, and Rwanda. For about $90, the company pairs tourists with a local guide even before a trip begins. E-mailing with their local contact in advance, travelers can learn about hotels, restaurants, sights to see, safety issues, and common tourist rip-offs. Then, once they've arrived, the same guide is there to show them around. Felice Hardy, a British writer who recently used Your Safe Planet on a trip to Beijing, says she "saw a side of the city I might not have... new restaurants, a unique hotel, and the latest area for nightlife." The company employs around 50 local guides in 50 countries. The first 10 were Broom's personal friends. Now, she says, "we do a range of checks" to make sure clients are in good hands. It's one way to make the planet a little less lonely.

Every tourist could use a little local knowledge. That’s why British entrepreneur Sally Broom started Your Safe Planet, an Internet-based service that matches independent travelers with locals in countries as far flung as China, Ecuador, and Rwanda. For about $90, the company pairs tourists with a local guide even before a trip begins. E-mailing with their local contact in advance, travelers can learn about hotels, restaurants, sights to see, safety issues, and common tourist rip-offs. Then, once they’ve arrived, the same guide is there to show them around. Felice Hardy, a British writer who recently used Your Safe Planet on a trip to Beijing, says she "saw a side of the city I might not have… new restaurants, a unique hotel, and the latest area for nightlife." The company employs around 50 local guides in 50 countries. The first 10 were Broom’s personal friends. Now, she says, "we do a range of checks" to make sure clients are in good hands. It’s one way to make the planet a little less lonely.

Mimi Kirk is a writer in Washington, D.C.

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