Go Cambio is a unique new community in the sharing economy that allows people to travel the world and connect with locals whilst swapping skills and knowledge for a spare room. I was recently invited to Ireland to experience my first Cambio, and this is what I thought.
I’ll be the first to admit that if I didn’t have a specific reason to go there, I probably wouldn’t have made it down to this part of Southern Ireland anytime soon. I’d never even heard of Ardmore before I accepted an invite from my host Teresa, but as I caught a bus down to this stunning seaside village on the Southern Coast of Ireland, I was stunned, and realised what an amazing place I would have missed out on if I hadn’t accepted.
Ardmore is an enchanting place. It is as if every positive image and stereotype of rural Ireland has been bundled together in one neat package, and it really lived up to the hype! It still retains a friendly small village feel despite being hugely popular with visitors, (A large portion of the houses on or near the coast are holiday homes), and it is surrounded by stunning coastal scenery and dramatic, rugged cliffs that would not look out of place in a Mediterranean travel brochure.
I loved strolling around the village, enjoying the coast and the scenery, and taking in some of the local landmarks, including the almost obligatory ruins and religious landmarks!
This is one of the huge benefits of Go Cambio in my opinion. Of course there will be hosts in the major cities around the world that everyone heads to, but there will also be hosts in the surrounding towns and villages too, the places that aren’t necessarily on the tourist or backpacker trail. It is a real incentive to visit places you may never have heard of or perhaps would not have visited otherwise unless you were spending a significant amount of time in the region or country you are visiting. One of the downsides at the moment is that because it is a relatively new community, there are still limited places you can visit, but this is becoming less of an issue as the community grows and of course this will change with time. It will be inevitable that the largest and most popular cities will be represented by a number of hosts willing to take travellers in, but it is these smaller places that will hold the most interest for long term travellers.
My host family in Ardmore were seriously welcoming and made me feel at home instantly, and I really enjoyed my chats over cups of tea and coffee with Teresa’s mum! Like any accommodation sharing service however there are ways to optimize your experience. I would strongly recommend before anyone goes on a Cambio however – or hosts anyone for that matter – to spend a little time getting to know your host or guest beforehand. Have a good idea of what each others expectations are and work out amongst yourselves exactly what it is you both want to get out of the experience. Go Cambio provides a great platform for you to do just that with their online reviews references and endorsements, you can chat safely online, and then make each other an offer once you are both satisfied.
Using Go Cambio as a traveller.
Going on a Cambio is not all about you however, you also have an obligation to give something back. It doesn’t matter what skill you have, whether you are a yoga expert or a dance teacher that can pass on your knowledge and skills, have a kick ass talent in art, painting, photography or flower arranging, maybe you are an awesome cook that can teach your host how to cook a dish from your country, or you simply want to help your host practice your native language, it doesn’t matter. If you can give a couple of hours a day to do any of that or share whatever particular skill you have, you get a nights stay and your hosts hospitality in return.
This is why I like the concept far more than other sharing economies such as couch surfing, it is the true sharing economy paradigm that runs through it that I think really stands out.
As part of my Cambio I got to visit the Go Cambio headquarters and meet the team, and this was the absolute highlight of my time there. The whole team were absolutely awesome and welcoming to a fault, and I am really genuinely happy to have met every single one of them! It was an exciting place to sit back and watch people work too, with a lot of very creative people very excited about the work they do, there was a palpable energy in the air. With free office pizza on the day I was there and a mini sports day to take advantage of the sun, the staff morale there must be through the roof!
The team at Go Cambio wanted to pick my brains about working as a professional blogger, and I did my best to answer their questions as well as holding a little impromptu writing workshop. I want to stress though that this wasn’t in any way a formal presentation style teaching experience, I didn’t need to have formal teaching qualifications to do it, I simply had a conversation and tried to impart some of the knowledge I had that they wanted to know about.
And the same is true for when you set up your own Cambioing experience. This isn’t about holding a TEFL qualification or a teaching degree and formally giving a lesson in a classroom environment. It is about having a conversation. Imparting knowledge through mutual friendship, conversation and practice.
Through that amazing experience with the Go Cambio team, I was invited along to a charity fundraising walk around the village later that evening. An event where it seemed the entire village population turned out to raise money for community events. Quite apart from giving me a unique way to explore Ardmore, I felt included in a truly unique community event, and for any traveller that is a unique and special experience. The night out with the team in the local pub afterwards wasn’t bad either!
That for me was an absolute highlight of the trip and one of the real benefits of Go Cambio. You get to go far beyond being a tourist or even a traveller. You make friends, meet amazing people and can get the benefit of a local experience, you can get to see what peoples daily lives are like and you can get welcomed in by part of that community far more so than if you were simply passing through as a traveller!
Being a host.
Go Cambio isn’t just about travelling the world and getting a nights stay for free though, you can also sign up as a host, and have the benefit of a whole host of travellers giving you their time, experience and skills in return for your hospitality.
Say you want to become proficient in a language, what better way than to have a native speaker stay with you and talk with you for a couple of hours a day? For the price of a room and a few meals, you could save a fortune on expensive courses and meet a possible new friend to boot.
What if you want to learn to dance or gain a new skill? Specify that in your profile and you’ll have the benefit of skilled and experienced travellers giving you one to one tuition for free!
Maybe you have a family and would like some extra curricular tuition for your children? There are a variety of skills and languages out there that kids could benefit from for a couple of hours a day! Plus there are many travellers who have or want careers with children who would be more than happy to add the experiences to their CVs. It really is a win, win, win situation. Everyone benefits.
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This post has been brought to you in partnership with Go Cambio.