10 promising European local and rural travel startups to watch

This week we are taking a look at what the ‘new normal’ will look like for different startup sectors. We ran a survey on what the EU-Startups community predict, and 68% of you mentioned that you’ll be travelling this summer, with an overwhelming amount, 43%, travelling only locally or regionally.

With summer approaching many people have had to cancel their usual holiday plans because of the uncertainty of the current situation, whether that be because of cancelled flights or closed borders. Summer is usually the time of the year when we take a couple of weeks to disconnect from work and escape from our usual space. Travelling to another country in the current circumstances might not be the best idea, but that doesn’t mean that summer’s ruined.

Rural and local tourism has always been a thing, but now it might skyrocket worldwide as people are asked not to travel abroad if it’s not completely necessary. We have spoken about this new trend with both founder and CEO of Culture Trip Dr Kris Naudts, and co-founder and CEO of Stasher (a luggage storage startup) Jacob Wedderburn Day.

With this predicted boom ahead of us, we have come up with a list of 10 promising European startups that have been betting on rural tourism for a while now, and will soon prove to be the safest choice for intrepid travellers all over Europe. With more people trying out local and regional travel this summer, it could ignite a mid- to long-term trend, making these startups ones to watch.

Indie Campers Born in Lisbon, Indie Campers is one of Europe’s main campervan rental companies. It has a fleet of over 400 vehicles and they operate in 60 different european locations. With the current situation, Indie Campers (2013) has taken extra measures to accommodate their travellers and ensure that everyone stays safe and healthy. They recommend traveling inside one’s home country and to promote this they have also created special routes on their website. They have acquired the Safe&Clean stamp issued by the portuguese government.

Trip Admit – This Irish startup, found in 2019, just raised €300K during the pandemic to help embattled Irish tourism organisations get back to business. The founders found that 80% of activity providers do not have online booking facilities, particularly in rural and regional areas. To solve this, and get rural tourism on the digital map, their digital ticketing platform that can integrate with tour and activity operators’ websites and enable them to sell online via their own website and third-party sites.

Waynabox – Waynabox was born in Barcelona in 2016 to give travelling a bit of a plot twist. They organise unexpected weekend trips for travellers to a surprise destination that you only find out two days before the departure. All of this at a fixed price that starts at 150€. During the current circumstances they offer the same style of travelling, just without crossing any borders and promoting local experiences.

Camptoo – Camptoo is the perfect place for those looking to rent out a caravan or RV this summer. With this year’s new normal of avoiding crowds, renting a caravan and exploring nature might be the smartest idea. Camptoo was born in 2014 in Den Haag, The Netherlands, as the go-to platform for booking privately owned caravans, and has raised around 1.4 million in funding, with its last equity crowdfunding round last summer. Motorhomes are only used an average of 4 weeks a year and purchasing one is quite pricey. Camptoo aims to help both owner and client, and give use to the caravan year-round. At the moment, they’re operational in various different cities in Europe and Australia, and have been featured in the UK press this month as a promising option for a ‘staycation’.

Secret City Trails – Secret City Trails started out in Amsterdam in 2017 as a fun and creative way to have locals re-discover their city. Nowadays they’re based in Lisbon and offer games for locals and travelers in 50 different european destinations. Due to the current situation they are encouraging locals to discover their own cities again. The positive thing about their riddles is that it’s a game that has no guide, therefore there is no interaction with strangers, can be played in groups of up to 6 people and on your phone.

PaulCamper – This Berlin-based startup raised 7 million last summer, putting it in good stead for 2020. Users can rent campervans and caravans via the PaulCamper sharing platform, to explore local rural areas and beaches in peace. With multiple rental spots across the whole of Germany, the startup is already preparing options for local travellers to socially distance in beautiful scenery, whether it be next to a lake, forest, field or coastal view.

PANGEA – Madrid-based Pangea is an adventure travel store that aims to help tourists find everything they need for activities (like camping, hiking, tobogganing, picnics, etc.), which raised 9 million last summer. Founded in 2015 in Spain’s capital, PANGEA’s adventure tourism focus has certainly pivoted perfectly to fit local rural travel experiences. The startup has found the ideal way for their fellow Spaniards to discover places in Spain that look like famous landmarks of other countries and this way create their own world map inside the country’s borders. This is a creative way to show that Spain has incredible culture, history and beautiful landscapes that sometimes go unnoticed because we’re too busy discovering other countries. 

Nautal – Nautal (2013) is betting on the freedom that aquatic sport and leisure activities have been granted in many European countries. If you know how to sail, renting a boat locally can afford the same level of social isolation as renting a car or camper van. As the largest marketplace for boat charter in Spain and one of the top boat rental agencies in the world, this startup has raised around €3.7 million. It already has strict hygiene and safety measures in place for the handing over of boats and equipment, so local tourists can get out on the water as smoothly as possible.

Snaptrip – Snaptrip is a marketplace for people to browse and book last-minute cottage holidays in the UK. Born in London in 2014, and having raised around €5 million in funding, the platform has over 60,000 cottages which can be easily booked with a few clicks. It aims to become the UK’s number one site when it comes to sudden breaks in self-catered holiday properties. With the travel restrictions and social distancing being the new normal, British people might have to switch the sunny Mediterranean for the UK countryside and Snaptrip is making the most out of it. 

GlampingHub – Born in Sevilla, this startup currently has a second office in Denver, Colorado, and has raised around €7 million in funding. It’s one of the leading platforms for ‘glamping’ (glamorous camping) accommodations worldwide. It promotes access to nature with all the comforts you’d find in a hotel. In the current summer circumstances, disconnecting a few days in a safari-themed tent in the middle of Europe sounds like a very appealing idea and the best way to practice social distancing. 

The world around is changing and the tourism sector is going through difficult times as companies find ways to adapt to the current circumstances. We expect that these startups will experience a significant growth this summer season as people will have to trade their usual holiday plans at the beach for an alternative that requires less human contact and more nature.

By the way: If you’re a corporate or investor looking for exciting startups in a specific market for a potential investment or acquisition, check out our Startup Sourcing Service!