You arrive in a city you’ve never visited before. You slog through immigration, wait for your checked bags, then negotiate the local public transportation system, laden with luggage. Eventually, you find and check into your accommodations, and it’s dinnertime. What now?
You knew you’d arrive tired, and that you wouldn’t want to settle for the hotel restaurant or have to go in search of food in a strange city. So you booked a meal with VizEat, a meal-sharing website.
Everyone’s heard of Airbnb by now, I assume. Just in case you haven’t, it’s a website that allows you to book accommodations anywhere in the world: anything from a tent in someone’s backyard to an entire villa on a beach. I’ve used it several times in the past, and have already booked Airbnb rooms for my upcoming trips to the Caribbean and Asia.
VizEat is a comparable website, only here you book meals at private homes. You type in where you want to travel, just like with Airbnb, and see the choices available there. Click on one that interests you and either a) join an already-scheduled meal or b) request another date. Easy-peasy.
Being a VizEat dinner guest
I haven’t tried it yet, but I think VizEat is a brilliant idea! Especially when I’ve just arrived at a new place, tired from the flight, not knowing my way around, this would be a welcome solution. Just book a place at someone’s table.
Not only would you get fed, but you would get a whole meal’s worth of time to ask the hosts for their tips and advice about their hometown. Everyone knows that a local’s advice is the best. Ask about recommended restaurants outside of the tourist areas. Ask about local events that might not be known internationally. Ask about what sights are worth seeing and which ones are just tourist traps. Quiz them about local etiquette or parking rules or tipping customs. Ask them anything!
It seems to me that, while you can be reasonably sure the food will be good—why would they put themselves out there to welcome people into their home but then serve bad food?—the great value of this would be meeting that local person inside a local home.
Sometimes you get this with Airbnb too, of course. If you’re renting a person’s guest room, you’re likely to meet that person. But I’ve stayed at lots of Airbnb rentals where that wasn’t the case. I was let in, but never saw the person again. Or I was left an envelope with a key in it, so I never even saw the owner. And even if you do meet them, that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to be able to pin them down long enough to ask all your questions.
With Vizeat, what you’re paying for is a meal in someone’s home, with the host. The added value over a restaurant is that person-to-person contact. And if you click on the link in the right margin, you’ll see that the meals on offer sound delicious: as good as any restaurant’s meals. And the prices seem comparable.
Being a VizEat host
VizEat is not in very many cities so far, so they’re looking for hosts, hoping to have the reach of Airbnb eventually. They’ve just announced a merger with a similar website, Cookening, so their offerings will be expanded to 50 different countries once the websites are combined.
If you like to cook for guests, by all means think about signing up as a host. You wouldn’t be tied into anything: you can decide when and how often you host people. You can decide on the menu. And you can decide how many people to host and set the price yourself.
As you can see, I’ve become an affiliate because I like this idea so much. Full disclosure: if you click on any of the links in this post, I get a very small payment when you host or become a guest. But I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t love the idea!
If you visit a VizEat host, or if you become one, please let me know how it went. I’ll be trying it out as well the first chance I get!