One of the travel world’s more annoying debates is backpacker vs. rolling suitcase. Those with backpacks scoff at travelers wheeling suitcases along cobblestones, while the roll-aboard lovers might want to avoid the connotation that “backpacker” implies. Even backpackers are being criticized now for taking too much. In the end, it’s just a place for one’s stuff. We can all agree that seeing pilgrims walking for many miles with very little stuff at all is pretty impressive. Today’s Photo of the Day is from Tibet, where some pilgrims are returning from a trip. Flickr user abhishakey photographed the travelers coming from Lhasa, where thousands travel each year to visit the Jokhang Temple with little more than a prayer wheel.
In my two years as an expat in Istanbul, I’ve asked visiting friends to bring me everything from bacon to Ziploc bags and iPads, and in return, I visit home with boxes of Turkish delight, baklava and coffee. But for those long winter months when I don’t know anyone visiting Turkey, how am I supposed to get my chocolate-and-peanut-butter fix? Now there’s a social network that connects locals and travelers who can bring you anything hand-delivered from anywhere in the world. mmMule aims to get hard-to-find or foreign items to locals everywhere, and rewards travelers with a local experience for delivering it.
Let’s say you are visiting Paris. You can log on to mmMule and find locals who want stuff ranging from Big Red gum to South African biltong cured meat. Maybe you want another jar of that Dijon mustard you loved on your last trip to France or some good old American mac & cheese if you’re abroad (seriously, all expats miss mac & cheese, and yes, we know we can make it ourselves). You can post a request on mmMule and wait to be connected with a traveler who can bring it. In exchange for the delivery, the “mule” is repaid for the cost of the item and rewarded in some way, from drinks at a local bar to an overnight stay in the local’s home. Illegal, embargoed and other illicit stuff is strictly verboten, so don’t think you can get someone to re-enact “Midnight Express.”
Should you feel inspired to help someone in need of more than supermarket goodies, you can check out the listings for AngelMule and bring supplies to non-profits. Your donations can be rewarded with cultural experiences like stays with local families or just an offer of “a big hug and eternal gratitude.” They’d probably be even more grateful if you threw some peanut butter cups into the deal.
Get whatever you want at mmMule.com or volunteer to bring stuff to someone else.