Let Social Media Be Your Travel GuideUsing a combination of social networks and media sharing sites, you can easily put social media to work for you while traveling and get “real-time” information and tips on transportation, accommodation, activities, food, safety and more. As I am six months into an around-the-world trip and am not carrying a single guidebook, I depend on the internet, particularly social media sites, to plan almost every aspect of my travels. I am currently in Thailand for one month so will reference it in my examples on how to use social media to do trip research.
TripAdvisorOne way to use your network of friends to get travel advice is to log into TripAdvisor using Facebook Connect. When you research a location on TripAdvisor (this can be as broad as a country name or as specific as a particular restaurant or hotel), the site will automatically tell you if one of your friends has been there (assuming they are also using Facebook Connect and have pinned or reviewed specific destinations on their TripAdvisor Travel Map). You can then email them directly for advice and/or read their reviews. For a more detailed explanation and instructions as to how this works, click on the links below:
Example of your TripAdvisor home page when you log in using Facebook Connect.For example, several of my friends have visited Thailand in recent years. Until I started using the TripAdvisor/Facebook Connect application, I didn’t realize how many. So, in addition to reading reviews on places to stay, eat & go by total strangers, I was also able to ask my friends what they recommended. Based on their feedback, I decided to travel to Chiang Mai and liked it so much that I ended up staying even longer than I expected!
BootsnAllAnother handy Facebook application is BootsnAll Traveler Connect. As stated on their homepage, you can “use BootsnAll Connect to find other travelers going to the same place you are, or connect with locals living there. Ask travel questions, arrange to meet for a beer, create some unique experiences not found in any guidebook.” Click here for more information. After the page has loaded, click anywhere in the Traveler Connect info box and you will be directed to the Facebook application permission box. Click “Allow” and you’re ready to connect with other travelers.
Example of privacy options for Facebook status updates.General Travel Sites Many travel-oriented businesses, official tourism websites, embassies & consulates, etc. have some combination of a blog, Facebook page and Twitter feed. Once you “Like” a Facebook page or “Follow“ a Twitter account, you can add it to a list to more selectively check updates relevant to your travels. I have general travel sites like Concierge, Gadling and World Nomads in one list called “Travel Info.“ I created a separate list for Thailand and Asia-specific sites. The point is that you can create the lists to best suit your itinerary and travel needs. Not to mention when you Like or Follow travel websites on Facebook and Twitter you are eligible for social media-only contests, discount codes and other money-saving offers. Here are instructional links for creating lists on both sites: