In early 2011, I was in Buenos Aires and had not a clue what to do. After a few days of walking around and hitting the tourist stops, I was completely bored. Even after asking all around the hostel, there weren't a lot of suggestions past steak houses, tango lessons, etc. These were fine, but I knew there must be dozens of other amazing things travelers could do. I was on Facebook chatting to a friend of mine who had lived in B.A. who recommended I visit La Bomba del Tiempo. We did, and it ended up not only being one of the coolest things I've ever seen, but made for such a great night that I think I would go back to B.A. just for that show.
This was frustrating for many reasons however. If I hadn't had that particular conversation on Facebook, I would not have attended the show, and would have probably had little interest in giving the city another chance. It felt too random and I wished there was a better way to find great things to do that are off the beaten path. There really should be a place where I can find out about things like Bomba.
About 8 months later, I took a solo trip to Iceland and didn't plan or research a thing past my flight and hostel. I met some amazing people and did some amazing things. However, it was all very random, and I am sure I missed more than I saw. It's not because I was too lazy to buy a Lonely Planet, it's because travel guides push you down the tourist path and don’t give you the real experience. Taking a picture of a monument and walking on isn't traveling in my book.
Anyway, during the 3rd night, I was sitting at a bar with a few locals and an American girl walked up to me and asked if my name was "Gunnar". I laughed and told her no it wasn't, she said thanks and walked away. Confused, I caught up to her and asked where that question came from. She said she was traveling solo and her friend who had been there 6 months earlier made her a "scavenger hunt" to do while she was there. The first one was "Take a picture with a local named Gunnar" (an extremely common name in Iceland). Another was "Find puffin being served on a menu". Another was "Find a street sign with more than 25 letters" (like Mýrarhúsaskólivalhúsaskóli).
I read this and realized it was absolutely brilliant. If you were to actually spend time knocking all of these off a list, you would have a true Icelandic experience—you'd talk to locals, try new food, get lost in the city, explore the country, and have a hilarious time doing it. It was like a fun, quirky guidebook for a “real” traveler.
Inspired, I sat in the hostel for the next few days sketching out an idea for an app that would create a traveler-inspired international scavenger hunt game.
Taking advantage of a 12-day break for the holidays, I built Rambler to help travelers travel better.
— John Roa