Travel Tech: Shop Local

Let’s be honest. We’re all guilty of having purchased at least one tacky tourist souvenir during our travels. I bet you have an I ‘heart’ New York t-shirt, shot glass from Vegas, or Miami keychain buried somewhere in the back of your closet.

Why is it, if our goal when traveling is to have authentic, cultural experiences– eat the local delicacy, scout out the underground music scene, and hit the top museums– that we often succumb to buying souvenir kitsch?

Perhaps we simply don’t know where to look.

Finding local, authentic goods is now a whole lot easier with the LookLocal iPhone App from The 3/50 Project. Founded by Cinda Baxter as a grassroots movement to promote locally owned, independent businesses, The 3/50 Project encourages travelers and members of a community to spend $50 a month at three local shops to help these business stay on their feet. The new iPhone app is a blessing to travelers looking to get a bead on a destination’s homespun wares.

The app is populated with 23,000 listings throughout North America, each accompanied by a description, address, and telephone number. Enter your location to reveal places nearby. And it’s not all about shopping. Search categories labeled Eat, Sip, Stay, Services, and Play. You can even connect with Facebook and Twitter to see which local business your friends and family have found.

The LookLocal app isn’t fancy. You won’t find crazy graphics or a button for in-app purchases. But that’s not the point. LookLocal and The 3/50 Project are about showing up, meeting local craftsmen and business owners, and making a purchase that gives back to the place you’ve visited.

LookLocal: Free on the iTunes store.

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