If you haven’t heard the news, local travel is #trending. From couchsurfing to kitchen-sharing, authentic experiences are quickly gaining worldwide appeal. But, it doesn't stop there. Tourism boards, airlines and travel agencies are pushing the envelope to give people an inside look at other cultures (even if their ideas are a bit, well, out-of-the-box).
Take Icelandair's Stopover Buddy program, which is returning this fall after its successful spring debut. You can sign up to have one of the airline's employees give you a personal tour of Iceland for a day — glacier hiking, helicopter tours and pony rides included. Or, if you're headed to Sweden soon and want to get some local intel, you can ring a random Swede using the country's landline. (In the first week, 186 countries called!). Feeling more adventurous? Jet over to Japan and hire a friend to show you around — and no, we don't mean an escort.
These creative pen-pal services are just the latest way to connect with people around the globe. And thanks to today's technology (we're looking at you, Snapchat), it's never been easier to stay in touch with your new BFF after you head home.