November 15, 2011
I’ve been on the road in Asia for over two months, and much of that time has been spent doing travel research in Lonely Planet or Wikitravel and asking hostel owners for recommendations. I’ve gotten lost multiple times in a maze of Chinese and Korean street signs. Along the way, I also met California-born Jason Demant, who went through similar headaches on his one-year trip in Asia – except he decided to do something about it.
During his trip, Demant built Unanchor, a startup that offers self-guided itineraries for over 50 cities, most under $10. These PDFs, written by knowledgeable contributors, plan out a whole day (or two) of sightseeing in cities like Florence, Singapore, and San Francisco, including tips, photos, and easy-to-follow maps.
“Having somebody curate that, who really knows the city well – it’s a cool way to experience a new city,” says Demant, who is now based in Korea. Demant personally reviews the itineraries for quality now, although he plans to let users provide reviews.
With so many travel sites out there, why check out Unanchor? Not for the design – Unanchor PDFs are simple – nor for the dynamic content – in the Shanghai itinerary I looked at, for example, the metro fares were outdated. What Unanchor has going for it is the level of detail: with maps, instructions for getting from one place to another, and photos with arrows pointing out your exact destination, Unanchor makes it hard to get lost. The itineraries also end with the authors’ contact information, so you can email them with questions.
According to Demant, many users like to pick and choose which sights to see from the itineraries. So Unanchor is the ideal destination not for the spontaneous, but for time-strapped travelers who want someone else to do the research for them.
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