Social Media is a Traveller’s Best Friend

In my younger, more free (ie childless) days, I travelled quite a bit. Road trips as far as my car would take me, weeks-long tours of Italy, catching a Greyhound to another province for a concert, even a nine month stint in a volunteer service program that sent me all over the country, and an au pair gig in New York City. Most of my travel was organized the old fashioned way. I walked into travel agencies, perused brochures, looked at websites, bought maps, called the airport to book flights, and mostly… winged it. It was sometimes stressful, and oftentimes the destinations weren’t what I expected – both in great ways and in terrible ways.

Nowadays, my travel is limited to trips to the city for Costco hauls and the occasional adventure to the zoo with my small humans. One day, I hope to travel the world with my family in tow, but in the meantime I am lucky to be able to live vicariously through my career. I work in the media production industry for a company who primarily makes outdoor adventure content. My job centers around researching new destinations and hidden wonders of the international variety. I’ve also discovered how much social media has changed travel planning for the everyday person. 1 in 5 travellers now use social media to research their trips, and, of those who use social media in planning, over half change their original plans because of their findings online. Let’s explore some of the ways social media can be a vacationer’s right hand man.

Firstly – reviews! You’re now able to easily find firsthand accounts of others’ experiences with hotels, airlines, resorts and attractions through a quick search. Another benefit to this is how timely the reviews usually are. You’ll be able to find out if the hotel you’re planning to stay at is undergoing renovations, if a specific wing of a museum is closed, and about weather or season related changes to hiking trails. Most reviewers are posting their content within days of their experience, along with pictures. Gone are the days of shiny promo photos being the only source of visual information available to a future traveller. With a couple of clicks, you have access to how clean the grout is in the shower at your Airbnb, or what the spinach dip looks like at the airport lounge. This is forcing businesses to have a higher level of accountability and quality. A win-win for travellers!

The ability to crowd source is another big advantage folks now have over pre-social media times. One can easily ask other travellers for specific recommendations and tips and get replies from all over the world, including from locals who know all the insider info. Want to know if there’s a bungee-jumping place that’s reputable in Costa Rica? Somebody knows that. Need to know what’s the least busy day of the week to visit the Vatican, and how far of a walk it is to that gelato place you heard about on Yelp? Somebody knows that. Inside info on the best LGBTQ+ nightlife in NYC? Yep, somebody knows all about that too. Just jump on Facebook or Reddit and the answers to all those random questions are at your fingertips.

Furthermore, don’t forget about interest-related blogs, social media accounts and apps. There are a million different resources available for inspiration and help along the way. Follow _itsbeautifulhere on Instagram and get inspiration for your next (several dozen!) adventures, in beautiful photographic snippets. Going mountain biking in Appalachia? Download the Trailforks app and let it guide you to new and well-loved trails even where Wi-Fi isn’t available. Users can add photos and trail conditions real-time, update fellow off-roaders about hazards, and share their own routes and rides with others. Follow Wandering Earl’s blog and be inspired to meander off the beaten path along with this full-time nomad (currently his ‘countries visited’ ticker is sitting at 117!).

Of course, being able to pre-plan and investigate our adventures so thoroughly maybe does take away a bit of the adrenaline rush that old-school ‘fly-by-the-seat-of-your pants’ travel offered. Indeed, the lack of surprise involved in knowing exactly what’s around the next corner can take away some of the spontaneity of travel. As well, one should keep an eye out for sponsored posts, which may be disingenuous, and also for fabricated reviews. However, with a discerning eye, it’s possible to weed out any misinformation. For me, and for many others (especially of my generation), the pros of social media for travel planning outweigh any potential cons.

Has social media inspired your travel adventures? What’s your most Instagrammable travel memory?

Social media is a traveller’s best friend. How to use it to your advantage for the best trip ever!

Should you plan your next trip with social media? #stayandwander #socialmediaperks

11 thoughts on “Social Media is a Traveller’s Best Friend

  1. Hey Jenna,
    great blog post. Social media definitely made it easier for us to plan our travels. Just a year and a half ago I (secretly) planned a honeymoon to Paris, I booked the train and hotel all online per app. We just had 6 days in Paris which meant I had to make a little schedule so we were able to see as much as possible. All thanks to social media.
    Of course, I also remember when we went on road trips with my parents, when I was a little kid and my mom had to read the map. I don’t know if that made the trip more fun or not because we always ended up on a detour. lol

    Very well written. I look forward to your next blog post. 🙂

    • Paris! How exciting! It’s on my bucket list.
      I hope you had a great time.

      Sometimes those little pre-Google Maps accidental detours resulted in the best surprise butter tarts at gas stations while getting directions. 🙂

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. Every time I plan a trip or a small outing I now use social media. I like to plan as much as possible. I will research hotels and restaurants as well as activities. Google maps becomes my best friend as it gets so easy to plan an appropriate itinerary.
    Great blog!

  3. Great post Jenna!
    I totally agree – social media and technology has made travelling so easy! Just think of apps like airbnb that we now have to aid in accommodations! Social media has totally changed the way the travel industry works, it’s quite fascinating. It’s also made it a lot easier to share your travels and photos with others – which I think helps to spur more wanderlust amongst followers. Also side note: I love the consistency of your images in this post 🙂

    • I love Airbnb! It makes travelling with kids much simpler and cheaper, and you can immerse yourself in your destination a little bit more deeply. You are likely right – at least, when I spend lots of time looking at travel posts, it gives me the travel itch moreso than usual!

  4. Great post!!! Thank you for sharing! It is so true. When me and my wife travel we rely on to help with our final decisions. Travelers photos rarely look the same as the hotels website. We have saved ourselves a few times by just taking ten minutes and looking up reviews. Awesome post!

  5. Thanks for the post Jenna. I can totally relate. I remember just getting on a Greyhound and going to any destination and experiencing things as they came. Today, its so convenient for travellers to research destinations, things to do, food, entertainment, you name it. I’ve been guilty of this too in recent years. Yet, I still like the idea of not knowing too much about where I’m going because it ruins the anticipation.

    • I agree; I think one day I’m going to book a little weekend adventure to a new place and purposefully not research much in advance. Just once, for old time’s sake! 🙂

  6. Great blog! Love the tips/links that are included and will make use of them. My travel schedule is very limited but I do enjoy reveling in what others are experiencing. National Geographic is my goto right now. I will get back to travel at some point.

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