For avid travellers with a bit of extra cash, TravelStarter is well worth a look. It’s a crowdfunding site with a twist; a unique project that offers people free stays, tours or meals in the places around the world that they choose to invest in.

The idea was born in early 2014, and the platform launched several months later. TravelStarter aims to support individuals and local businesses by helping them raise funds for their tourism and travel related projects.

Like traditional donation-based crowdfunding platforms, each project offers rewards; however, unlike the usual free t-shirt or free ticket, TravelStarter offers options to stay, eat, tour, or learn with the projects that they support. Essentially, instead of booking a traditional hotel or restaurant for a holiday, people have the option to lend the money to the business and then claim their reward once the business is up and running. Not only are you getting a holiday, but you’re boosting small businesses and tourism projects by doing so. Supporting one of these projects not only supports that business, but the tourism industry as a whole.

Once the project is successfully funded, you are free to claim the reward for your trip. It could be a nice dinner in Paris, an overnight stay at a guesthouse in Prague, a daily bike rental in Amsterdam, an authentic tour of Rome, or maybe a flamenco lesson in Madrid.

Guide Like You is one of the projects currently listed, which aims to promote travelling like a real tourist by getting locals to take visitors on tours and show them the best local places to eat, drink and explore. The rewards are great; for giving $50, you receive a hald fay tour of Paris or Toulouse with one of the company’s founders, and for $200 or more you receive 3 days stay in Toulouse with car hire.

Another project, Hostaria 239, wants $3,000 to refurbish a small, eco-friendly bed and breakfast in Koh Lanta, Thailand. For a donation fo just $30, you will receive one night in a double room, half board. For $50, you get 5 nights and for $300, one weeks stay, half board and two tours as well as a “big hug and a lot of good tips!”

According to Dan from Cardiff, who successfully crowdfunded $13,000 to refurbish a hostel, the site is perfect for tourism related projects as “all of the rewards appeal to people interested in travel or tourism.”

Although the site is American, based in Boston, it aims to fundraise for projects all round the world. The team behind it are five passionate travellers, who hope that TravelStarter will become “the number one platform for all travel related projects, and help bring tourism back to the people.” Together, the team have expertise in all areas to make the site successful; from social media ad digital marketing to database and sustainable tourism knowledge.

The site itself is branded brilliantly, with a modern feel and easy navigation. The idea of a platform that swaps travellers’ cash for holiday based rewards, to the mutual benefit to both parties, is clever, unique and has plenty of potential. A tree house hotel in Slovenia, complete with hot tub, is one of my favourite projects listed on there; as a keen traveller myself, I can absolutely see the attraction of the site. If you’re looking to donate to a worthwhile project and receive some great rewards yourself, TravelStarter is the place to visit.

Previous articlePearson “in talks” to sell Financial Times
Next articleMeet JetSmarter, the ‘Uber of the sky’