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! http://bit.ly/38HsVRf
Should you plan your next trip with social media? #stayandwander #socialmediaperks http://bit.ly/38HsVRf