There are so many ways that travelers can use Twitter both before and during their travels. As a bit of a Twitter-addict, I thought I’d put together some tips to help you tweet your way to a terrific trip!
Planning Your Trip with Twitter’s Help
There are multitudes of ways in which you can use Twitter to help plan your trip. In fact, you could even use Twitter to help you decide your destination. I’ve seen tweets from traveling friends polling their followers on where they should head next. Personally, though, my list of must-visit destinations is long enough without asking my Twitter followers for even more advice.
Assuming you know where you’re going, then using Twitter to get suggestions, ideas and advice ahead of your trip can be quite fruitful. Using Twitter’s search function, you are likely to turn up links to recent articles on your destination, find people who are tweeting from your destination, and even learn all kinds of quirks about where you’re going.
I just tested this with “Tasmania” – my next planned trip – and quickly found the opinions of one tweeter on how good-looking Tasmanian guys are, a suggested great wine from Tasmania and (most usefully) the location of good free WiFi in Hobart.
With tourist organisations, hotels and tourist attractions all hopping on to Twitter these days, it is easy to find useful and relevant Twitter accounts to follow when you’re planning a trip. Just search for your destination name in “Who to follow” and most likely you’ll find the local tourist board plus a host of individual tourist attractions, all of which will tweet information that will be especially helpful when planning your trip. On top of that, some of these organisations might run contests and you can win part of your trip for free – wouldn’t that be nice?
I also like to find some individuals who live in my destination to follow. It takes a bit more exploration and clicking around to find people who both live there and are tweeting something you find relevant, but it’s worth the effort. You might even make a friend you can meet up with.
Getting Help from Twitter Once You’re Travelling
When you’re on your trip and come up against a stumbling block, Twitter can be one of the most instantaneous ways to find useful help. For example, if you turn up at a museum and discover it’s closed on Mondays (as many are across Europe), you might want to send a tweet asking if any locals can suggest a museum that is open that day, or get an alternative suggestion on something to do close to where you are.
I’m regularly (and pleasantly) surprised at how friendly and helpful the Twitter community is, and that kind of question is likely to be retweeted to even more people if someone who lives in your destination sees it but can’t come up with an idea to help you.
Help from those “on the ground” is something that Twitter is particularly good for. Not many other sites are so frequently read, by so many people who might be able to help, and can reach the right people so easily. I have used Twitter quite often recently to ask for information that I haven’t been able to find elsewhere.
For example, during the Easter public holidays, there are very unusual trading hours in Western Australia for shops, pubs, casinos and restaurants. I couldn’t find the information I needed via an internet search, but by asking on Twitter I was quickly rewarded with the right answer (sadly, the answer was that no pub would open on Good Friday!).
When you’re in a new place and are not familiar with the local customs, regulations and habits, Twitter users can often provide you with answers, fast.
If you’ve got a smartphone that works from your destination (probably cheapest with a local SIM card – do check your plan before you tweet up an expensive storm), then you can keep in touch with your Twitter friends and make them jealous with a few Twitpics of the fantastic meals or gorgeous sunsets you’re experiencing.
A tweet is so short that sending one doesn’t eat into to much of your vacation time but still makes you feel in touch – a combination I really like. Nothing worse than spending hours in a gloomy internet cafe writing long emails to friends or family back home – the 140 character limit on Twitter forces me to keep it short!
Have Hashtag, Will Travel
Finally, if you’re becoming a practiced Twitter user, there are heaps of hashtags that will delve you right into your subject. Simply searching for #YourDestination will locate tweets relevant to your trip. If you’re seeking more general ideas, perhaps before you decide where you’re headed, then #travel will also turn up all manner of information and links.
There are also a couple of regular chat sessions via Twitter that are both fun and inspiring for travelers. It’s a bit time-zone dependent but I’ve taken part in a few Travelers’ Night In (#TNI) sessions (for me down here in Australia, they fall in the middle of the night!) which are a lot of fun, with ten different travel-related questions to discuss.
Less reliant on being awake at the right time, Travel Tuesday (#TravelTuesday or #TT) puts the focus on travel-related tweeps every Tuesday (kind of like Follow Friday for travelers) and you can discover some great new people to follow and some interesting articles or blogs to read.
How are you using Twitter to complement your travels? Let me know in the comments below!