Cookisto: Airbnb For Home Cooking?

We’ve seen collaborative consumption work with everything from car rentals like ZipCar, to vacation rentals like Airbnb. But would you pay to eat someone else’s home cooking?

Cookisto, a social network that connects home cooks with hungry “foodies,” started in Athens and will soon come to London. Cooks make their own dishes, upload the details onto the site including number of portions and cost, and share their menus over social media. Eaters can arrange for delivery or pick up, depending on what’s on offer.

Quality control is all on the honor system, with users providing ratings on their experiences. The program has been successful so far in Greece, where the economic crisis has made residents look for creative ways to put food on the table. Cookisto meals generally cost a few euro, far less than you’d pay in a restaurant, but enough to earn the cooks a bit of extra money. The community has attracted both professional and amateur chefs, competing for good ratings and repeat orders built on trust and reputation.

Would you pay to eat someone else’s home cooking? What would you cook for a stranger?

Collect And Share Travel Experiences With AFAR

Pinterest became the hottest social network this year, with millions using the site to collect and search for recipes, design ideas and inspirational quotes. Many travelers have used Pinterest for planning and sharing trips, tips and destinations (you can find Gadling here). Now, the website and community behind AFAR magazine, has introduced a new feature to curate travel experiences, chronicle favorite destinations and discover new places in a way that’s Pinterest-like in ease of use and appealing interface but designed just for travelers.

“Wanderlists” are part of AFAR’s collaborative travel guide, comprised of a collection of travel “Highlights,” similar to an inspiration board. Users can create a Highlight incorporating a photo and description of a place or experience, adding contact information and location tags to make it easier for other travelers to find. A Highlight might be a moment in a field of Irish wildflowers, a favorite breakfast spot in Istanbul, or a Victorian town in New Zealand. Highlights are integrated with Google Maps for easy reference, and can be shared over Twitter, Facebook, or email (you can even pin to Pinterest too). If you feel more like gathering ideas than sharing your own, you can search for any destination or topic like food or surfing.

Currently, Highlights and Wanderlists are all user-generated, but will soon include magazine content as well. You can get inspired by collections from the AFAR team like American road trip pit stops, markets around the world, or favorite spots in Cairo.

Create your own Wanderlists and search for Highlights at

Get flight info and airport reviews with RouteHappy

When it comes to booking hotels, travelers have plenty of options for finding information, recommendations, and tips with TripAdvisor, booking engine reviews, and other user-generated sites, in addition to guidebooks and other traditional media. But as air travel gets more restrictive and less comfortable, how can you choose the easiest flights, or at least be prepared for the inconveniences? RouteHappy is a new user-generated social network for flight info, reviews and tips for airlines, airports, and routes. The site is populated with comprehensive global flight schedules, Wi-Fi availability by route, and on-time history. Users can enter their tips and experiences from getting to the airport, check-in, airport amenities, and boarding to in-flight comfort, arrival immigration and transportation options.

From searching on RouteHappy, I decided it was worth the extra money for JetBlue’s Even More amenity program for a shorter security line (plus more legroom and other perks), and discovered a much easier connection from Frankfurt to Austin through Denver instead of the much busier (and often delayed) Chicago. I’ve also left tips on the site for navigating airports in Istanbul, London, and Budapest with a baby. You can follow “Route Experts” for hidden gems and “flyer bewares” on frequently-flown routes, and learn about which airport shops are worth a stop, which airlines make your coach experience feel like an upgrade, or where you should be prepared for long immigration lines.
RouteHappy gets better with every review added, so be sure to add your advice while searching for info. You can also link to your TripIt/LinkedIn account to automatically remind you to review flights and pre-populate flight info. Currently in invite-only “alpha” mode, the site has over 1,000 members in 45 countries and counting with more than 7,500 comments and tips.

Gadling readers can try out the site before it goes into public beta mode soon by using the code GadlingFliesBetter. The RouteHappy team is incredibly responsive to users and active on social media, so be sure to follow along as they share their best tips on Facebook, tweet travel news on Twitter, or just send them a message at

Postcards – the original social travel network

Before Twitter, before FourSquare and even before email – people used postcards to “check in to” their location. The postcard lived in easier times – in an era when we’d arrive at our destination and spend a week actually visiting things and relaxing instead of scrambling to find a Wi-Fi signal to get our email.

It has been 18 years since I last sent anyone a postcard, and I clearly remember buying a stack of cards and stamps from a souvenir shop in Blackpool, UK and copying down the addresses from my PDA. Yes – even 18 years ago, I relied on technology to keep track of my life.

The fun thing about postcards is that they lack everything current technology gives us. In most cases, the postcard wouldn’t show up till weeks after you arrived back from your destination, and they all had one thing in common – cheesy photos of cheesy tourist destinations.

Still – there was something comforting about letting your closest friends know that you were “having a great time”, even though “wish you were here” was usually a lie. In those days, your social circle was limited to ten or twenty people – not the 500 we add to Facebook nowadays.

For those that were on the road a lot (and had more to report), there was the aerogramme. Check out Don George on his aerogramme memories.

We asked some of the Gadling team members whether they still enjoy writing postcards:

Annie Scott:

This will sound shallow, but it’s fun: my friend Debbie and I always find one with a horrible-looking dude on it and send it with something to the effect of “I’m in Holland and I found your boyfriend” on the back. It cracks us up.

I once sent five postcards to the same person because I couldn’t *quite* remember her address and wasn’t sure I got it right any of the five times. She didn’t get one. Oops.

I totally write on the edges. I always worry about where they’re going to put those tracking stickers and cover up my words.

Chris Owen:

I remember going to the post office with my mother as a little boy to get the special post card stamps it took. No one dared put a “regular” stamp on a postcard. She bought them for my father who was a traveling salesman and would send home cards “from the road”. If my parents would go out of town and I stayed behind, my mother would “kiss” one (blot her ruby red lipstick) for me and send it along. When my brother flew off to conquer the world he would send cards from all over the planet. I don’t know that I have ever sent one. I have horrible handwriting, how many “I’m on the ship” cards can you send anyway and no way I would stand in line at the post office.

I did think once think of starting a company that made post card machines. The plan was to position them by icon shots of places around the world, somebody stands in front of them with the mountain, ocean, cool thing in the background, then the machine prints it and spits it out, postage stamped for the buyer to write on and mail. Cell phones screwed up that idea.

Darren Murph:

The last postcards we sent were last year — snagged a few from a hotel in Northern California, and wrote on them as we traveled up the 101.

Stopped off in a tiny, tiny town with a post office around the size of a shoebox and sent ’em in hopes of getting a pretty random town stamp when they passed through processing. Particularly to grandmothers, sending postcards with gorgeous scenes on them are real treats to receive.

Don George

Postcards! I always used to send postcards — to friends and family but also to myself. In some really out of the way places, it would take so long to reach me that months later I would be happily surprised to receive a postcard that would immediately transport me to the sea-scented, palm-shaded table where I’d had written it.

I’d cover every square milli-inch of the surface.

I especially remember the iconic ones like Notre Dame, the Acropolis and the quintessential palm-leaning-over-sunny-beach shot….

The last postcard I remember writing and mailing was in 2002 at the wonderful “post barrel” on Floreana Island in the Galapagos….

Elizabeth Seward:

I send them frequently.

My nephew and I have had a postcard routine going strong for a few years now: I send him postcards, he tacks them onto his bedroom wall. He’s 12. It’s adorable. And I always find myself writing quite a bit, around the edges, telling him cool things about the place I’m visiting.

Heather Poole:

Post cards remind me of Camp, which reminds me of Possum Kingdom Lake, which reminds me of a week’s worth of begging – Dear Mom, Come get me NOW!

When I take a long trip I use postcards as a way to divide the scrapbook into different city sections.

Laurel Miller:

My friends and I do the same “here’s your boyfriend” cards. I used to religiously send detailed cards to friends and family but then I discovered email. But I still collect weird/cool/beautiful cards as souvenirs.

Melanie Nayer:

My Grama gets a postcard from me from any destination. Her favorite was from The Vatican (which I find somewhat odd since we’re Jewish). She still talks about it, because the stamp says “The Vatican.”

Mike Barish:

I still send them and decide who the recipients will be based on what I see and who I’m reminded of. Always try to find silly postcards and include inside jokes with friends. Yes, grandmas love postcards from far away lands. I do that too.

Sean McLachlan:

My son and I collect postcards together. He likes having a bunch of them on his walls and keeps the rest in Mom’s old lunchbox.

Yesterday, on my first day in Ethiopia I wrote three–one to my wife and son, and the other two to friends. I also like buying old postcards (50 to 100 years old) of places I’ve been. It’s cool tosee how a place like Damascus or Delhi has changed.

Gadling Twitter reader @kirsten_al responded to our question with some great memories:

I still send postcards, I still love receiving postcards. In this era of digital-everything (including digital postcards) it’s comforting to receive a piece of handwritten mail from Peru or Japan. I collect my postcards on a pin board above my workstation & even the NYC postcard I have from a friend in Brooklyn is a vivid reminder of the place I hope to call home one day.

When I lived with my best friend for a few months last year I marveled at the collection of postcards on her fridge. Though I don’t always get to send a postcard to everyone I know on every trip I take, I never fail to send her one. We’ve been friends for 30 years and she keeps all I’ve sent her displayed in the kitchen so every morning she’s reminded of me and smiles knowing I am pursuing my great passion all around the world. I didn’t even realize how many I’d sent her until I stood there drinking my morning coffee … her fridge is like a diary of my travels. Now, I’ll never stop sending postcards!

Here are some other great Twitter replies:

@Gadling obsessively! postcards are my souvenirs for friends/fam. #thrifty #thoughtfulless than a minute ago via web

@Gadling There are few things I love more than postcards! I’m constantly on a mission to gather them for @atlasobscuraless than a minute ago via TweetDeck

@Gadling I still use postcards but just to my 3 year old nephew.less than a minute ago via Twitterrific

@jettingaround @Gadling I write around 400 a year.less than a minute ago via ÜberSocial

What about you?


[Photos: Postcard rack: Flickr/tts, Burger Chef: Flickr/bayswater97, Sea Point Pavilion: Flickr/Mallix]

A travel guide to the 2011 Oscar movies

The 83rd annual Academy Awards are coming up in a few weeks and the Oscars race is on. This year’s nominations contained few surprises, with many nods for Brit period piece The King’s Speech, Facebook biopic The Social Network, and headtrip Inception. While 2010’s ultimate travel blockbuster Eat, Pray, Love failed to made the cut, there’s still plenty to inspire wanderlust among the Best Picture picks.

Read on for a travel guide to the best movies of 2010 and how to create your own Oscar-worthy trip.

127 HoursLocation: Danny Boyle’s nail-biter was shot on location in Utah’s Blue John Canyon near Moab and on a set in Salt Lake City. Go there: Should you want to explore Moab’s desert and canyons while keeping all limbs intact, check out Moab in fall for bike races and art festivals.

Black Swan
Location: Much of the ballet psychodrama was shot in New York City, though the performances were filmed upstate in Purchase, New York. Go there: To see the real “Swan Lake” on stage at Lincoln Center, you’ll have to hope tickets aren’t sold out for the New York City Ballet, performing this month February 11-26.

The FighterLocation: in the grand tradition of Oscar winners Good Will Hunting and The Departed, the Mark Wahlberg boxing flick was filmed in Massachusetts, in Micky Ward’s real hometown of Lowell, 30 miles north of Boston. Go there: For a map of locations in Lowell, check out this blog post and perhaps spot Micky Ward at the West End Gym.

InceptionLocation: The setting of this film depends on what dream level you’re in. The locations list includes Los Angeles, England, Paris, Japan, even Morocco. Go there: There are plenty of real locations to visit, including University College London and Tangier’s Grand Souk. Canada’s Fortress Mountain Resort where the snow scenes were shot is currently closed, but you can ski nearby in Banff.

The Kids Are All Right
Location: Director Lisa Cholodenko is a big fan of southern California, she also filmed the 2002 Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles. Go there: Love it or hate it, L.A. is still a top travel destination in the US and perhaps this year you can combine with a trip to Vegas, if the X Train gets moving.

The King’s SpeechLocation: A prince and a commoner in the wedding of the century. Sound familiar? This historical drama was shot in and around London, though stand-ins were used for Buckingham Palace’s interiors. Go there: It might be hard to recreate the vintage look of the film, but London is full of atmospheric and historic architecture and palaces to visit. If you’re a sucker for English period films or places Colin Firth has graced, tour company P & P Tours can show you around many historic movie locations like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.

The Social NetworkLocation: Another Massachusetts and California movie, this very academic film shot at many college and prep school campuses, but none of them Harvard, which hasn’t allowed film crews in decades. Go there: If you enjoyed the Winklevoss rowing scene, head to England this summer for the Henley Royal Regatta June 29 – July 3.

Toy Story 3 – Location: The latest in the Pixar animated trilogy is set at the Sunnyside Daycare. Go there: Reviews are mixed, but Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a new Pixar parade, to let fans see their favorite characters in “person.” Visit any Disney gift shop to make your own toy story.

True Grit – Location: The Coen brothers western remake may be set in 19th century Arkansas, but it was filmed in modern day Santa Fe, New Mexico and Texas, taking over much of towns like Granger. Go there: If you’re a film purist or big John Wayne fan, you can tour the locations of the original film in Ouray County, Colorado.

Winter’s Bone – Location: Many moviegoers hadn’t heard of this film when nominations were announced, set and shot in the Ozark Mountains in southern Missouri. Go there: The difficult film centers around the effects of methamphetamine on a rural family, but travel destinations don’t get much more wholesome than Branson, Missouri. Bring the family for riverboat shows and the best bathroom in the country.

[Photo by Flickr user Lisa Norman]