One of my Travel Tricks: Peer-to-Peer Delivery

September 1, 2015

I thought I had had an original idea. With all the new crowdsourcing services popping up like Uber, it seemed like international deliveries were a natural progression. As a Couchsurfer who hosted in Korea, I would browse the forums and see if there were any people stateside who were posting about advice, as they planned to fly over in a matter of weeks. If that were the case, I’d ask them if they were willing to pick up such-and-such, which I’d been craving for so long, and of course I’d pay for it and show them around the country.

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By Emma Campbell

It turns out peer-to-peer delivery is alive and well, if somewhat underutilized. Roadie is the latest attempt at the US market, but I’ve been perusing listings on PiggyBee as well. To those unfamiliar with the business, if not the idea, imagine this: you’re moving from Chicago to LA. You have the truck rented, the dates set, the manpower hired. And there’s plenty of room to haul an extra couch or some boxes. Ordinarily, that would simply be wasted space, but with peer-to-peer delivery, you can post your travel plan and be given something to transport to offset costs. For international travel, it can be something as simple as someone flying from Paris to New York and bringing a fresh pastry. I personally asked for sourdough bread from San Francisco to be brought to my apartment in Korea.

Cool, right? So why hasn’t there been a solid app developed to get the ball rolling?

Crowdsourcing jobs aren’t without their risks. Uber got in serious trouble after some of their male drivers harassed and even assaulted women in different markets, due to lack of oversight. Peer-to-peer delivery could face similar challenges, as drug dealers might try to con some poor sap into delivering their niece’s special teddy bear… filled with cocaine. If there is proper international legal coverage for situations like that, it might not be too bad. But when programs like this are in their infancy, a traveler hauling something he didn’t buy himself puts him at risk for arrest or financial loss.

For my own part, I’ve used Couchsurfing to broadcast that I’ll be coming into a new area and ask if anyone, expat or otherwise, would like something from the good old US or A to quell their homesickness. Before my trip to Peru, a CSer requested some Victoria’s Secret perfumes (apparently impossible to find or incredibly expensive in South America). Not only was I able to meet up with her in Arequipa’s Plaza de Armas and receive an insider’s perspective on the city, but we stayed in touch during my stay and shared a few laughs. In addition, if you’re meeting the recipient when you first arrive, he or she can offer local currency, eliminating the need for ATM fees or ridiculous exchange rates.

Discovering what in your country appeals to those living in others is fascinating to me. Granted, there are sure to be differences in taste and style, but I noticed a few trends along the way, e.g. American Expats in Korea like their s’mores. As I’m flying into Sofia before busing down to Istanbul, I thought I’d put the call out again. The most common request? Beef jerky. Whatever appeals to you, Bulgarians.

One Response to One of my Travel Tricks: Peer-to-Peer Delivery

  1. trailblazertravels on September 6, 2015 at 8:27 am

    Thanks mate, found the post to be very insightful

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