July 24, 2016 - Austin Grandt
Everyone wants to have a trip that diverges from the beaten path and is curated for their interests. There are many companies out there now trying to give this "locals only" experience. Some provide you with a local guide and others curated itineraries. I suspect that this trend is going to continue to be more popular as the world continuously shrinks due to technology and demand for curated and "authentic" experiences increases.
Today, we take a look at the startup Sidekix that tries to help you travel more like a local. They provide interesting things to do, eat, and see in your own city and as you travel the world.
One of the most interesting and useful features of the Sidekix app is that they focus on providing you with places to go that are all within walking distance. By focusing on the local area, you get a better sense of where you are and I found some interesting things to do in my own neighborhood that I wasn't aware of.
After testing the app in a few cities around the world, I found that it could be a nice companion to answer questions we have on every trip "where should we eat?" or "is there any cool stores around here?". Yelp often feels overwhelming with reviews and choices. I found Sidekix as a nice starting point to narrow my choices and help me make a decision quickly.
It should be noted that a lot of the locations pushed by the app seemed to be based on Foursquare popularity and even provide some reviews via Foursquare. I couldn't quite tell how much was human/local curation or based off of Foursquare's own rank.
One of the things I liked most about the app was the interface itself. It felt easy to navigate and I could see myself using it with one hand as I walked around a city. The added effect of having shoes on the screen was kind of cool and reinforced that they wanted to be a walking app versus a driving app.
The built in walking directions was a feature that I would find super useful and I especially liked that I didn't have to load an external app, like Google Maps or Apple Maps, to get to my destination. The added feature of having "best lit" routes that I am assuming travel along major roads was a huge plus for me as it could become useful late at night in a new city. Solo travelers especially might find it useful to stick to lighted streets as they walk around an unfamiliar place.
If you are looking for something that is more itinerary based or automatically creates an itinerary for you, this probably isn't the app for you. It seems to be best suited for the more fluid type of traveler that wants to wander a city to get a good feel for it.
Overall, the app seems to be a step in the right direction. Consumers want a more hyper-local experience and this is the first step towards walking around "like a local". I wish there were some non-Foursquare reviews or a little more about why a location was added to the map versus any other ones out there. I think travelers would find it more convincing to eat at a place if there were an editors note that said why everyone has to try this place.