As you know if you have followed my travels through my podcasts and blogs, I love to really get to know places by walking from sight to sight wherever possible. I create walks using the mapping tools on walkli.com, so I can easily explain the places I visit, show the maps in detail, and include pictures of the sights you will see at each stop as you travel along the walking tour and follow the map. In this blog and accompanying podcast, I interview the founder and CEO of walkli, Jeff Peo, and share some information about the favorite places from other travel writers who create walking maps for walkli.
Following are some questions and answers from my interview with Jeff, but be sure to click on the podcast audio bar at the end of this article for much more of my conversation with Jeff. See some information about the favorite places of some of the best contributors to walkli after the interview summary.
Cindy, One Perfect Day In Travel podcast host:
Tell me a little about walkli and how you came to found the company.
Jeff Peo, Founder and CEO of walkli.com:
- I spent a lot of time in school in my 20s – undergrad and then grad school twice – and was on a pretty good career track at a consulting firm. But along the way I picked up the travel bug. From the beginning I enjoyed exploring cities on foot. I felt it was the most authentic way to experience a different culture, but I struggled to find good maps on how to explore beyond the standard tourist sites. I was looking for something tactical that could provide some guidance on how and where to spend my time, even beyond the typical “top ten” lists.
- Meanwhile, I was becoming “the guy” that my coworkers, friends and family would turn to when they needed to plan a trip. I was finding that they were struggling with the same issues that I was and I would draw out on paper or point out areas on Google Maps for them to help them learn where to walk to find great places to visit in their travels.
- For cities that I had been to, this worked well for those I was sharing my maps. But, I haven’t been everywhere, and this approach didn’t really help me when I was traveling to a new city myself. It seemed like there was a need for a place where people could get maps from someone from the city, as if they knew them, even when they had no contacts in the location. This is basically what we’re doing with walkli. We wanted to make it as personal as possible, so each map creator has a profile with links to their own blogs, social media accounts, etc. It is important to have that connection between the person who has already been to a place and the person who is traveling there.
- Walkli now has maps for more than 250 cities across 78 countries, and travelers are adding more every day. We have a lot of ideas for walkli in the long run, but for now our main focus is to continue to build a large and diverse library of quality content from a global community of travel experts. We want to help as many travelers and would-be-travelers feel excited and confident when planning a trip, and then making the most of their time once they arrive at their destination.
Yes, I have loved using the walkli maps when visiting places I have not traveled to in the past. I know that the map creators have “been there” and “done that,” so their credibility gives me confidence to follow in their footsteps as I visit new cities.
I have been interested in reading the walkli blog, too, and learning about some of the travel writers who have created several maps for walkli. Could you share a little bit about some of the travel writers you have gotten to know through walkli?
I think this is actually my favorite part of running walkli. We have about 100 travel bloggers and writers who are part of our core community that I’ve gotten to know pretty well. So, in the morning I might be trading emails with Lily from Kiev, Ukraine, and then in the afternoon with Christine or Jess who were both on extended trips in Bali. I’ve had calls with Billy from BillysCities, who caught the travel bug while in the navy, and video chats with Terry and Maura from TravelKiwis, who after 20 years of marriage sold everything and quit their jobs to slow travel the world.
The other great thing about running walkli is reviewing all the maps that get posted. I’ve been to a couple hundred cities in 75 countries and am constantly reminded that there are so many more places to explore. I love when a new map comes in from a place that I have visited, and even more when that city wasn’t even on my radar. We have one user, TheBlondeGypsy, who is an actual travel guide in the Balkans and posts great maps from Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia, etc. It’s all very inspiring.
Of course, sometimes a new map will get posted from a city that I’ve been to, sometimes more than once, but they’ll cover an area I wasn’t even aware of and I’ll feel like I’ve missed out. Now I check walkli before I go anywhere new!
You have visited so many places in your own travels. Tell me about some of those places.
I’ve been to 75 countries across 6 continents. I haven’t visited Antarctica yet! About half of the places I have visited are “traditional” destinations like Paris, London, and Tokyo. When people come to me for travel advice, it is usually about traveling to a traditional destination, and I could go on and on about walking the streets of Paris or the best way to travel by train from Berlin to Budapest.
On the other hand, about half of the destinations I have visited are more unusual destinations, including Syria, Nepal, and Easter Island. When people want to talk travel at parties, they typically want to hear the stories from these places. For example, when I couldn’t find a hotel in Damascus, I slept on a roof for 4 nights. And, they love to hear about when I went shark diving with great whites in South Africa.
But regardless of the destination, I think the best travel advice I can give is – just do it! International travel is less expensive and less scary than it seems. The experiences you have traveling are more valuable than any of the things that you’d buy in a store.
I agree. Thank you so much, Jeff, for sharing your travels and for developing walkli.com for the benefit of travelers worldwide. And, thank you for asking some of walkli’s other travel writers to share their favorite maps.
Map creators for walkli share their favorite city to spend “one perfect day in” below:
Travel Writers Terry and Maura, travelkiwis.com, have created the walkli map, “Seville: A Walk Through History”. Here is why they picked Seville as their favorite place to spend “one perfect day”.
“Our favourite place to spend “One Perfect Day In” would be Seville. For us thinking of Seville brings back images of the magnificent architecture such as the Seville Cathedral, the third largest cathedral in the world; the Real Alcazar of Seville a royal residence for over 1,000 years; and our highlight that still gives us goosebumps recalling when we first laid eyes on the Plaza de Espana. Our Seville Walk http://www.walkli.com/path/Spain/Seville/seville—a-walk-through-history takes in these three amazing locations, as well as winding narrow lanes of the Santa Cruz Quarter where the aromas of Spanish food will tempt you; several plazas that are great for people watching; and a couple of towers to climb for views over the city.”
Follow travelkiwis on social media at:
A Blonde Passport
Jess Buchan of https://ablondeandherpassport.com/ writes:
“My favourite place to spend ‘One Perfect Day’ is cycling through the Dutch city of The Hague (http://walkli.com/path/Netherlands/The Hague/cycling-the-hague). There is nothing better than whizzing through this organised and clean city, Dutch breeze in your face and ending up by the seaside. After living in The Hague for over a year, I have so many fond memories exploring the city on my bike with friends from all over the world. On a summers day, we would cycle from Grote Markt to Scheveningen Beach (stopping for mandatory coffee stops along the way!) before watching the sunset with a cold glass of Heineken at Whoosah Beach Bar – it is what the Dutch call ‘gezellig’!
Guillermo de Miguel Bielsa, http://www.nomadwill.com/ says:
“Well, I have many places where I would have a perfect day in, like Zaragoza, my hometown, but apart from it, Barcelona is definitely among the top of them! Although it is a very touristic city, there are many hidden spots in it, even if they are few metres away from the beaten path. I’ve made several routes covering the most visited areas but if I would need to choose one, it would be the Gothic Quarter, the medieval centre of Barcelona (it may surprise you but I know a lot of people who overlooked it at all!). In this district you can be transported to the middle ages, as well as you have a contact with several cultures that used to populate the city, moreover, there are a lot of awesome little secrets hidden in those narrow streets! You can check them all following this link http://www.walkli.com/routes/Barcelona,%20Spain.”
“My favorite place to spend ‘One Perfect Day In’ is Amsterdam. I can’t think of a major world city more oozing in charm than Amsterdam. Its canals, lined with gorgeous canal-houses, make it a uniquely beautiful place. Amsterdam’s compact size makes it utterly walkable. Out of all of the walks I created for Walkli, none made me want to hop on a plane and start walking like my walk of Amsterdam’s Charming Canals. On this walk, you get stunning architecture, great shopping, unique history, only-in-Amsterdam attractions, and possibly Europe’s best fries. Perfect!”
Check out Billy on walkli, at his website, and follow Billy on social media at:
Thank you to all of these walkli map creators and to Jeff Peo, Founder and CEO of walkli.com for sharing this information. To check out one of my favorite walkli maps that I have created, check out my Munich: Beyond the Beerhalls post here:
Remember, you can listen to the podcast link below for even more of my conversation with Jeff. Until next time, I hope all of your travel days are just perfect!