Are you thinking about a vacation and looking for suggestions on where to go? Maybe you already have a destination in mind, but aren’t sure about where to stay once you get there. Maybe you have all the basics figured out (location, lodging, etc.) but are stumped on where to go for a special dinner on your last night in town. So, what’s a savvy traveler to do to help herself make some decisions? More and more, people are turning to Twitter.
Twitter has become more than just a place to post daily quotes and updates on what you had for lunch; it’s an information-sharing juggernaut. All of that content (links and posts and pics, oh my!) can be overwhelming, but it can also be invaluable to travelers looking for the inside info on their destinations. Want suggestions from locals on their favorite ice cream spot? Tweet the question and wait for the responses to pour in. Or direct message a travel blogger who knows the area (they might answer you with suggestions, or retweet you so their followers can weigh in, or both). Twitter can be an amazing resource, and the best part is the instant response you receive. Even if you don’t have a million followers, a strategic hashtag could bring suggestions from folks around the world.
Twitter travel isn’t just for individual adventurers. I first noticed the phenomenon when a tweet popped up from Guardian Travel asking for suggestions on what to do when they got to Philadelphia (it was a Baltimore to Bar Harbor road trip). As a former Philadelphian, I tweeted back a tip. Then I followed their trip on the website as they explored the places followers suggested. It was vacation planning by (social media) committee, and it was fun to watch. What will they do next? Who will they meet? I know this isn’t a new phenomenon (I found references to Twitter-planned travels a few years back), but it’s something I’ve been thinking more about lately.
I have to admit, I’m intrigued by the idea of relinquishing total control and seeing where I end up, following only tweets. It would be a huge departure for a dedicated planner and scheduler, but that’s what makes it so exciting.
I haven’t tried it to this extent yet, but I have sent out tweets about weekend road trips and the suggestions I’ve received have yet to steer me wrong. I’ve gotten great insider info on where to go, what to eat and, on the flip side, things that might not be worth my time. I’m sure some folks would say that this kind of planning takes the spontaneity out of travel; that blindly following tweeted suggestions robs you of those serendipitous travel moments where you stumble into a great café or a forgotten town square, tucked away from sight. But I’d say that it doesn’t take those experiences away from you, it’s just a different way of getting to those discoveries. You’re still searching and discovering, but it’s just another way of “stumbling upon” a great find. The tweets are suggestions, and you’re free to follow all or none of them, or to change course whenever the mood strikes. It’s still your trip; you just have a whole network of friendly “travel agents” to help you plan it.
Have you guys ever done any version of Twitter travel, from asking for restaurant suggestions to full-on trip planning? If you haven’t, would you ever consider it?
Tweet me your travel tips @StephSpitler
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