Travatar. Gravatar, for Travelers.

Most of you likely know what Gravatar is (& have an account). It alleviates the need to upload profile photos to every website you use. But what about for locations? Long term travelers are constantly changing locations, and get sick of keeping all their various profiles up to date.



Your Travatar is your location that follows you from site to site appearing beside your name when you do things like comment or post on a blog.

There is no doubt this would be a useful service for travelers who are constantly arriving in new locations. There is no doubt developers would value and utilize such a service (assuming it had users). The big question is how you would monetize such a service?

The complete write up on the idea can be found on

The Airport Gym

While traveling to South America and back last month, I spent a LOT of time in airports. I had 26 hours of travel time one way: 2 hours in the Buenos Aires airport, 3 hours on a flight to Santiago, 8 hours in the Santiago airport, 10 hours on a flight to Dallas, 2 hours in Dallas and a 4 hour flight back to Los Angeles.

airport gymAlmost all of that time was spent in a sitting position. My body stiffened up and I definitely felt very unhealthy from the lack of exercise and having to eat airline food.

It occurred to me that I would be willing to pay $15 for one time access to an airport gym where I could get in a good workout. I would pay $20 if that gym also had a basketball court.

There are tons of other businesses that operate beyond TSA security in airports (restaurants, gift shops, etc), why not a gym? I mean some airports even have those weird smoker aquariums so it only makes sense that someone should build a small gym to let people burn off some energy before their flight.

It could be monetized on a pay-per-use basis or with monthly or annual memberships for frequent travelers. The airport gym could be a franchise opportunity for an existing brand like 24-hour Fitness to widen it’s reach.

Getting some exercise would have been extremely good to help get my body moving again and pumping out all the toxins just sitting in my extremities. Traveling is inherently unhealthy in that you’re sitting idle for hours at a time, breathing in recycled air and probably not eating the healthiest food.

I think a lot of other people are like me out there and would happily pay a fairly large fee to get access to a gym with free weights, machines, and possibly a basketball court. Add in carry-on sized lockers and showers and you’re all set.

It would take some investment to lease a space in a busy terminal, but wouldn’t take long to prove if the concept would work or not. A major hub like LAX would be a good place to start because many travelers are coming in from (or about to embark on) long-haul flights and may have a lengthy layover — and would probably love to get some exercise.

How to Increase Your Revenue for a Youth Hostel

Do you run a youth hostel? Do you want to find ways to make more money than you are currently making?

Here are a few ideas for you to consider:

  • Sell beer (no brainer)
  • Sell water
  • Sell local tours
  • Organize a pub crawl
  • Start a bar inside (& sell lots of shots)
  • In-house tourist guides
  • Charge $1 for sheets
  • Laundry service (laundry costs while traveling)
  • Start a chain of hostels across multiple cities and cross promote
  • Negotiate special deals (& affiliate program) with a few local restaurants
  • Airport / train / bus pick-up and drop off

All in the effort to provide the perfect hostel

The Perfect Hostel

Ever since I started traveling in 2005, I’ve long thought about starting a hostel. Or even a chain of hostels.


Simple. There are so many horrible horrible hostels, and I know I can create a better hostel.

I view hostels the same as I view running a bar; if you have a decent location and can’t run a successful bar, you’re an idiot. Okay, that’s a bit extreme. But you get the point. The same thing applies to hostels.

Why it’s appealing opportunity:

  • Good margins – I think. Keep the hostel close to capacity, and you’ll make a killing.
  • Great lifestyle – Live where you want, and hang out with awesome travelers all day. Listen to great music and socialize. What more could you want?

In my mind, here’s what’s included in the perfect hostel:

  • Comfy common area with a couple couches
  • A table or two with chairs
  • A decent location. Sure, a great location would be awesome – but not entirely necessary
  • Chill music
  • Character – surfboards, cool artwork, a guitar, etc
  • Bar
  • Awesome staff – this is probably the most important item on the list
  • Local directions, events, and info
  • Common kitchen with a refrigerator to leave leftovers
  • WIFI throughout
  • Organized events (pub crawls, walking tours, dinners) at least every 3 days
  • Great happy hour specials
  • Snacks/food available until at least 2 am
  • Comfortable mattresses with warm comforter (for a cold weather area)
  • Metal storage lockers that hold a regular sized backpack (not a big one), latch, and can accommodate a small lock.

What would your perfect hostel include?

Organizing Expats/Digital Nomads to Build Websites for Local Businesses

This idea is more of a non profit initiative and isn’t likely to make you any money. That said, it could certainly be a good route to build your personal network and, in turn, build an audience to market products your products and services to down the line.

The idea is extremely simple.

Organize the community of expats and digital nomads living in a particular city. Build a way for local businesses (and non profits and) to submit a request for a new website. That request would go to a dashboard, or an ambassador of that city, to be matched with a small team of digital nomads with varied skills. It seems a team of 4 people (designer, writer, marketing, and coder) could pretty easily build a fairly good, professional looking WordPress website as well as setup a basic social media strategy in a matter of hours.

Thought Process

  • There are many many expats and digital nomads floating around the world, many of them with extensive graphic designer, SEO, writing, marketing, business development, and online marketing experience. The vast majority of them have have considerable down time while they are staying in a particular location.
  • Most local businesses outside of the US don’t have websites — and if they do, they are horribly designed. Virtually none of them have a clue about how to drive business to their establishment via the web.

Therefore, it makes sense to match those two groups together with some sort of matching making service.

You could even team this with the backpacker time share service I mentioned earlier to give the backpackers something to do in their spare time.

Now, go make the world a better place and facilitate this website matching-making service.

[Photo via]

A Backpacker “Time Share” Type Service

Resulting from not having a full time job and the fact I’ve been traveling for the last three months, I’m been brainstorming a number of business ideas related to traveling.

My latest business idea — a time share type service focused on backpackers (aka budget travelers). We all know timeshares are popular with the 35+ crowd, but why can’t the younger crowd have access to the same type of service? Of course, the accommodations wouldn’t be as nice since budget travelers are, how do you want to say it, on a budget. For example, in Chiang Mai where I’m living now — an apartment can be had for less than 5,000 Thai baht (about $170 US dollars) per month. I’m paying about $300 per month at Smith Residence, but there are certainly cheaper places to be had.

My room in Smith Residence in Chiang Mai

This idea actually originally started with the fact that I believe the world needs more “iHubs” and thinking through how to connect like minded travelers with each other to both collaborate further on business opportunities and build lasting friendships in the process. It came back to my mind, and evolved a bit, after speaking with Ian a couple weeks ago and he mentioned that he was thinking about just renting his place here for the long term and use it as a home base to travel around Southeast Asia. Leave all his stuff here in Chiang Mai so as to travel lighter to Burma, Laos, China, Malaysia, etc — and the holy grail being if he could rent it out to another traveler while he was gone on a long trip to recover some of the cost.

The service would be pretty simple. What’s Needed:

  • Rented rooms in cities across the globe
  • Booking system so that backpackers/nomads in the network can reserve a spot in the rooms
  • Bonus: amenities and goodies at some of the places. For instance, a motorcycle that could be used while in Chiang Mai would be awesome.

Revenue model:

  • Travelers would pay into the network on a monthly or yearly basis

Investment Needed:

  • Enough capital to rent rooms for 6 months in 8-10 cities – call it $20k (total guess)
  • Capital to build a great website that included a booking system and payment platform – call it $15k
  • Marketing – $3k

The location selections would be vital to making this a success. If it were up to me? The cities would include Chiang Mai, Santiago (never been), Rio (never been), Barcelona, Nairobi, Cape Town (never been), New York, San Francisco, New Orleans (never been), Santorini, Hanoi, Beijing (never been), and Istanbul (never been).

On a small scale, I wouldn’t be opposed to teaming with 4-6 other digital nomads and each “owning” a city — and coordinate some way to share a common calendar so as to determine who is planning to be where at what time. But that said, I truly believe this could be a real business for someone if done right.

The idea…is all yours. Make it happen, and you have your first paying customer already — provided the price and initial city selection are right.

Traveler’s Electronics Delivery Service

Every traveler carries a vast array of electronics with them — and they spend a lot of money on those electronics. Some of those gadgets aren’t readily available abroad (like Kindle’s), or are vastly more expensive due to taxes on goods imported. Why doesn’t someone start a business where by they use the network of global travelers leaving for trips to deliver needed electronics to travelers already abroad?

You’d have to build an intricate delivery system that allows travelers to meet in person for the delivery, or use hostels or some other local business as a drop-off/pick up destination.

For example, I’d happily deliver a Kindle from the states to someone in Asia/Africa/Europe/etc if I was on my way there anyway and it wasn’t out of my way to deliver the Kindle — particularly if I got a small delivery fee, or a discount on some other electronics equipment in return.

Would you use the service to buy electronics? And actually, the more I think about it, the more I think it wouldn’t even have to be limited to electronics — it could be anything such as a special shampoo, medication, an important document, etc.

What do you think? Good idea or crap?