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Tech traveller: Crowdfunding your travels

Appealing to friends’ and relatives’ generosity to help fund your dream trip isn’t just a savvy move — it’s remarkably easy and popular in the tech age

Tech traveller: Crowdfunding your travels
Image: Getty

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Every year people receive presents for Christmas or birthdays that they just don’t want. Get a gift that counts by using one of the many crowdfunding platforms to ask for contributions to your dream trip instead of tacky trinkets and wacky socks. 

Most personal crowdfunding sites, like Gofund.me and Fundly.com, charge a fee of around 10%. But I found a great site, Youcaring.com, with zero fees except the payment processing charge from PayPal. The set-up is very simple. Give your page a title and description, and add an image from your linked Facebook account. You can choose to make the page private, so it won’t be searchable on Google or the main site, meaning only people you share the link with will see it.

Both you and the donators will need a PayPal account, and the funds will go directly into your account as they’re received, regardless whether or not you hit the total goal. Donators are prompted to add a small tip for the website, as it’s a no-fee service. If they’re feeling stingy they can just zero this out before paying. It’s a great way to finance a honeymoon or wedding abroad, asking guests to donate instead of bringing gifts. 

Another option for crowdfunding services with no handling fee is to go directly to the airline. Last Christmas, Virgin Atlantic launched its crowdfunding platform under the banner of WhereIWantForChristmas.com. It allows you to build your dream trip with pictures and destination details, so people can see exactly what they’re paying for, with the money going straight to the checkout for you to buy the holiday. With the power of the crowd now very much a part of popular consumer culture, many more tour operators will probably launch this kind of service in the year ahead.

Get the gadget: GoTenna Mesh

If you’re travelling well off the beaten track it can be hard to get a mobile signal. GoTenna Mesh is a neat little device that allows you to create a communications network between phones without having to connect to the mobile grid. With two or more phones each connected to an antenna you can send text messages and GPS location data to each other, even if there’s zero coverage. The end goal for the developer is for enough devices to be in use to create a completely off-grid network, but we’re a long way off the critical mass for that. I’ve tested the product extensively and without mass adoption the range is pretty poor in built up cities. However, it works great up to three miles from one antenna to another in open terrain. It’s perfect for keeping in touch at music festivals or when camping out in the wilds. RRP: £199 for a pack of two.

Kate Russell is a technology reporter for @BBCClick and author of Working the Cloud

Published in the March 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)