Traveling new cities on-the-fly with TripTouch

The world at their fingertips: TripTouch founders: Ron Mertens and Gil Ruda. Leaving home for college or a long trip abroad can be exciting, but after the bags are unpacked — even if temporarily — the basic need for comfort …

The world at their fingertips: TripTouch founders: Ron Mertens and Gil Ruda.

Leaving home for college or a long trip abroad can be exciting, but after the bags are unpacked — even if temporarily — the basic need for comfort and familiarity sets in. Where are the health food stores, the best restaurants, or the pubs that the locals go to? Should we pack the umbrella tonight, or prepare the toque for tomorrow’s snow?

Normally, finding exactly how to behave and what you need in a new city or town takes a lot of time and trial and error — or hours of planning beforehand, along with dozens of guidebooks and trusted friends.

Not if you have Israel’s TripTouch on your web browser. The destination site has partnered with the Web’s best services and travel companies to help the newbie explore a city like it’s an old haunt.

Sort through the travel advice maze

Founded in 2007 by Gil Ruda and Ron Mertens, with seed money from a small group of angel investors, the company is based in Tel Aviv. “But like our users, we yearn for the skies!” writes its website, which offers a blog on new site features. “We thought that what we should integrate destination information with travel services by location,” Ruda tells ISRAEL21c.

“There are many travel websites out there, but you get lost. We’ve developed a technology that aggregates the best sources of the web from 5,000 worldwide destinations, and about 15 content providers,” he says, noting that along with the basic up-to-the-minute travel information and services, users get to explore a rich online traveling community, replete with personal travel logs for uploading and sharing experiences and photos. And of course, there’s information about the local weather.

Travel guides like Foder’s or Lonely Planet can’t compare. They serve a purpose, but are often out of date by the time the book gets used. TripTouch, on the other hand, “It’s more for travelers who take longer trips and those who use the Internet,” says Ruda. “We believe that resources like Lonely Planet are good as a publishing resource, but as a website it’s not useful,” he notes.

Based on local experts, and real travelers

TripTouch’s content, therefore, is collected from local sources, and travelers, not just guide writers who are passing through a country for a short time. “Travel guide books can’t do what we do,” says Ruda, whose company is looking for funding. “They are not up to date. TripTouch is great for college students, and even for people who want to travel within their own country.”

Keeping TripTouch vibrant are content partners who include WikiTravel, Eventful in San Diego for events, Kayak for transportation advice, and Priceline for hotels. Working on commissions from booking, and advertising, the five-person company hopes to expand its services into the cellular market. Launched in February this year, and still in beta mode, several thousands of people are already and traveling with TripTouch at their fingertips. Will you be next?

About Karin Kloosterman

Karin Kloosterman lives in Jaffa, Israel. She is a journalist, writer and blogger who focuses on the environment and clean technology from Israel and the Middle East. Published in hundreds of newspapers around the world, Karin also writes for the Huffington Post and Green Prophet.