The travel world is under app attack! All around the world this travel season, people will be guiding themselves through the streets and bars and clubs and parks of strange new cities wielding smartphone and i-pads in hand.
But what these applications all share is the same basic, underlying aim: they aim to connect you with other people and places that are a perfect match for your tastes. It’s an admirable aim and they achieve that by asking about your personal preferences from the start and then streaming you toward groups, communities and services that match.
This can admittedly save you a lot of time. Unfortunately, the time that they save you is usually spent online searching for the next good match… which maybe isn’t what you want to spend your travels doing.
Do you still have a yearning for real life adventure in travel? Luckily, in many cities you’ll still find it. There are zillions of adventurous people doing unplanned, random things… So you shouldn’t feel too embarrassed about playing the leader to their confused and chuckling mass.
But how do you do that? It’s already difficult just to make it through a new city whilst checking out half a dozen apps designed to show you where the best fit for your character and tastes are, or map out inside tracks and underground tips.
The answer’s simple: you just take matters into your own hands, which are freed up by leaving your handheld device at the hostel. Basically, you invent a new surreal route for others to follow, yourself.
There are plenty of challenges in our game that are designed to make it easier for you to do just that: they go beyond just plotting out a bunch of points on a map and suggest actions that you can perform or attitudes that you can adopt that will allow the city’s adventurous types to interact with you, and contribute something utterly random, fun and unique to your trip. Here are some examples:
No Smartphone Challenge
The “No Smartphone Challenge” suggests that you try to recreate all the functions that your app-filled smartphone performs in analog format. And by that, we don’t mean that you should stick a Polaroid of you making pulled pork pancakes with maple syrup on the Berlin Wall and wait for passing strangers to write “like” on it… For one thing, that would be a bit too literal (and for another, it’s already been done before). In this challenge we suggest ways that you connect with sights, sounds and passing strangers you might like by using all of the props the city has to offer, and to experience the luxury of not being reachable for some time.
Send a Postcard
If you’re a solitary traveler who just saw something amazing they’d like to “share” smartphone-free, there’s nothing more uber-analog than sending a postcard to a friend. If you don’t have any friend’s real-world addresses (which few people seem to carry now) then you can always sign up for an international postcard exchange in our “Send a Postcard” challenge and send it to a new friend… before getting one from a different new friend elsewhere.
It All Started with a Flower
Or, you can get a feel for what kind of people have cultivated this city by playing, “It All Started with a Flower…” The people whom you hand your flower to in Berlin will tell you whatever they like: they might sing you a story, or put the blossom in their hair and pick another one to add to the bouquet… or they might just be in a hurry to leave. But what better way to understand the city than by getting right down to its “roots”?
You might find it a little ironic that you’re getting all these challenges via an app… but it’s not, because travelers and internet users are connected by a shared aim, too. They each want to be touched by something new and utterly unexpected that adds another layer of meaning to their current state of mind.
The internet connects people by sharing information freely, while travelers make their connections by moving freely. Urban Challenger aims to bring the two together for maximum effect.