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We’ve moved into an age of outsourcing. Need someone to hang up your porch swing? Look on TaskRabbit. Want a ride home from the airport? Uber and Lyft will be there within minutes. Need to add something to your shopping list? Just tell Alexa, you won’t even need to leave the couch. Want to book a cool place to stay close to the beach on your next trip to California? Airbnb has you covered.
The question is always – what’s the limit? And how much is too much?
A new App called Lyfx (pronounced Life-x) might be close to pushing the boundary. Lyfx promotes itself as the Uber of adventure travel. They offer a way to connect with local experts and plan customized trips wherever you’re traveling. Their pitch is “Adventures on Demand.” What does that mean, exactly? I downloaded the app today so I could figure that out. Here is what I discovered…
The Idea Behind Lyfx
Before downloading the app, I spent a bit of time on the actual Lyfx website to learn more about what this service offers and how they accomplish that. Ok, so here’s the deal. Have you ever looked at the Airbnb “experiences” options? It’s a cool concept.
When you travel to a new city, you can connect with a local expert who will take you on whatever activity you’re signed up for. Feel like joining a walking tour of NYC? You can sign up for that with Airbnb. Want to experience wine tasting in Napa? Look for that experience and sign up.
This is a similar concept, but it’s specifically designed for travelers who are seeking active adventures. Think of it this way. You’re traveling to Colorado and you want to hike in Eldorado Canyon, near Boulder. You look through all of your contacts on Facebook to see if you have any friends who live nearby. You don’t. Then you try to think of any friends who might have friends that like to hike and know that area. You fall short again.
Sure, you could easily ask for info at the outdoor shop once you get to town, but you really want to hike with someone who’s familiar with the area. It will just make for a better day, and you might get to see some things that you didn’t read about in the guidebook. That’s the benefit of hiring a local through Lyfx.
How You’ll Access Lyfx
This app is free, you just need to go to the App store, download it, and then sign up for an account. You’ll be able to register with either your email address or your Facebook account. I opted for email signup, and I’m trying to detach from Facebook at the moment (it’s not easy).
Once you’re set up, you’ll be prompted to indicate if you’re a traveler or a local. If you’re a traveler, that means you’re looking to hire a local to take you on an adventure. If you’re a local, you’re offering your trip-planning services to travelers. When your account is activated, you’ll also receive an email with instructions on how to become a local expert (if you choose to do so).
What Adventure Options Are Currently Offered?
When you select “I’m a traveler” in the Lyfx app, you’ll progress to the next screen where you can choose your form of adventure. Make sure your location is enabled, this is key to running the application.
Currently, there are 16 categories of activities available. Some of the more popular activities include trail running, yoga, hiking, and snowboarding.
You’ll start by updating your profile and selecting your top three favorite activities. I chose running, snowboarding, and hiking. Next, if you’re ready to actually shop for an adventure, you’ll go back to the categories and click around until something looks appealing. For fun, I selected a trail run in Aspen. When you’re in the specific activity you’ll see this information listed:
- Name of the guide
- Duration of the trip
- How many travelers can participate
- Difficulty level (easy, medium, difficult)
- A description of the adventure
- Information on what gear you’ll need to bring
If you decide to book the adventure, you’ll select your date and time slot and then send payment.
At the moment, Lyfx is only operating in Utah and Colorado. They are planning to expand with more adventure options in more locations, but we don’t know exactly when this will happen.
How Can You Become a Local Expert With Lyfx?
If you want to become a local expert, there are instructions listed on the Lyfx website. You’ll go into your profile on the app and fill out the required information. Once you submit this, the team at Lyfx will both verify you are who you claim to be (not totally sure how they do that) and review your application to see if you’re a good fit. Once you’re approved you’ll update all of your local-expertise in your profile and start leading trips with clients when they sign up.
Why Lyfx Is Cool
There are two reasons I like this concept. First, there is a huge knowledge base of local experts who can share their experience with other people who are looking for a great outdoor adventure. It’s hard to connect with these experienced hikers, photographers, etc. if you don’t already have someone to introduce you. I appreciate that Lyfx is allowing those local experts to capitalize on their knowledge and that other travelers can benefit from that.
Second, if you live in a place where Lyfx is available, you don’t actually have to travel to have an adventure. I could connect with a local expert in Colorado to take me out on a wildlife viewing trip next Saturday. This is a great option for people who might be new to an area or just don’t feel like planning a huge expedition. It might actually encourage folks to be a bit more spontaneous, knowing there’s less risk of getting lost or having to spend time in the planning stages.
What Needs Work
Since this digital platform is still in the infancy stages (it just launched in July 2018) there isn’t a lot of data. There aren’t a lot of reviews on experiences offered. It’s currently limited to two states, so it’s not relevant to anyone traveling outside of Colorado or Utah. It’s a good start, and with time, this could be a valuable resource.
My Overall Impression of the Lyfx App
For some reason, before digging in, I really wanted to dislike this concept. Maybe because, as a person who loves to explore and travel, there’s something about Lyfx that seems like it takes the spontaneity out of discovering a new place. Isn’t part of the adventure of travel the fact that you never know who you’ll meet and how you’ll get there? Yes. The unknown is totally appealing when you’re sitting on your couch researching the perfect routes to ride horses in Patagonia.
But…I have to admit, the more I think about Lyfx, the more tempting it is and the more it seems to make sense. Why read through 114 conflicting comments about hiking Long’s Peak in September when I could just reach out and hire someone who has already climbed it seven times? The question now transitions from – “does it take something away from the experience?” to “does that really matter?” And I think that’s always both the danger and the appeal of outsourcing experiences. At some point, we give in and say, “this is just much easier.” Because it kind of is and that may or may not be more important than spending the time to figure it out ourselves.
What are your thoughts on hiring a local guide from a mobile app? Do you have doubts or would you sign up for a service like this? Let me know what you think in the comments section below!
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