I am not being groundbreaking when I say that social media is taking over our lives. If I had a dollar for every time I looked around a room, restaurant, or my classroom (unfortunately) and people were on social media…well, I wouldn’t have to be a part-time traveler anymore, that’s for sure. And while I think we all need a break from social media every once in a while, it has actually made travel planning more personal, convenient, and a bit more fun too! So I’ve decided that over the next couple of months, I’m going to feature a social media channel and how I use it to make my travel planning that much easier. First on deck? Twitter. There’s so much more to Twitter than just following travel bloggers and obsessively clicking on their links as you scroll through (…or is that just me?). The platform is one of my favorites when I turn to social media for travel planning.
How to Use Twitter for Travel Planning
Travel Twitter Chats
I’m going to start with my favorite reason to be on Twitter: Twitter Chats. I am a sucker for a good Twitter chat. Essentially, the host(s) will tweet questions out starting with Q1, Q2, etc. Everybody participating answers with A1, A2, etc. If everybody makes sure they include the hashtag, all tweets will show up when somebody searches for that hashtag. And voila! A chat is born. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen me chatting it up with some creatives and girlbosses lately. But there are so many travel Twitter chats that I want to try, aside from just bopping in and out.
I put together a little list for the both of us to try out together. If you've got chats that I need to try, let me know in the comments. Hopefully I'll see you on Twitter soon!
Here’s a pro-tip for you: use something like Tweetdeck to keep up with Twitter chats. I’ve done it before on my phone on the Twitter app, but the speed of some of these things will make your head spin. Chats like these (especially #PTTravel, which is specifically inspired by part-time travelers!) will be great sources of inspiration for locations to visit. Also, they’re a great vehicle to connect with people who have visited where you might be going before, use them! Ask their favorite things to do, places to stay, anything.
Follow the Deal-Seekers
Twitter is teeming with travel hackers and deal seekers of all kinds. I’ve gotten a couple of fun deals through Groupon and Travelzoo. Deals range anywhere from accommodations to fun activities to all-inclusive trips. A great thing about big accounts like these is that oftentimes they can be broken down even further into more specific Twitter handles. Groupon, for example, has a handle for a lot of the major cities in the United States, as well as some around the globe. It’s worth a look!
But I’m beating around the bush. What most people are interested in deal-wise on Twitter is flights. I hear you, those things can be expensive. If you’ve got flexibility in your travel schedule and your taste in travel destination, there are a ton of Twitter accounts you can follow for good flight deals. My favorite is appropriately named The Flight Deal, especially if you fly out of/into one of the major airports they look at. Airfare Watchdog also has a pretty decent Twitter account. Poke around and follow some of your favorites. You’re bound to see some pretty enticing deals pop up in your feed!
Reach out to Friends
Connections on Twitter are so fun if you can see past the billions of links showing up on your feed. Let’s make Twitter a more social place again, shall we? And aside from being super fun, it can actually help with planning your travels. Bonus points if friends from Twitter chats help you with this part!
One of the biggest ways I use Twitter for travel planning is asking my Twitter buds for neighborhood recommendations when I’m hunting for AirBnBs. If you’re super popular on Twitter, it might be easy to just tweet out the question, but I like to look at the location on a profile and send them a direct tweet. Your chances of getting a real, helpful answer definitely increase in doing this.
Real example: I most recently got the inside scoop on Nashville neighborhoods from Kristin from Camels and Chocolate AND she had a list of super helpful AirBnB places. Sometimes, you can even have super awesome Twitter friends that offer to host you! Shout out to Kayla for making my TBEX dreams plans in Minnesota possible this Spring. Just playing my mom-like-card here: be careful with people you meet online! Stay smart.
Once you’re set on a destination, I encourage you to do a little Twitter searching for local Twitter accounts. Lots of tourism boards have hopped on the Twitter train, as well as local magazines and blogs. These accounts are gold when it comes to my perfect balance of being a tourist and living like a local. I’ve got two examples I’d like to share: one that is country general and one that is city specific.
When I went to Northern Ireland with my family, I didn’t really know what I was getting into. I happened to be searching Twitter when I stumbled upon DiscoverNI, an account set up to help people…discover Northern Ireland. Thanks to Twitter, I added a trip to the Dark Hedges to our to-do list AND I found a killer hiking trail that I forced took my parents on. Some of those spots were my greatest memories of the trip, and I wouldn’t have necessarily found them without Twitter!
Now, as far as specific cities go, I’ll be the first to tell you that I use Philadelphia’s Twitter accounts almost every weekend to look for things to do. If you want to travel to Philly, I’ve got you covered…just let me know! So when I headed out to Denver for Spring Break, I did a little searching. Lo and behold one of my favorite dining events in Philadelphia, Restaurant Week, is in Denver too. AND it just so happened to be when I was out there! What a perfect way to discover restaurants like a local? I imagine this would be really great for concerts, art events, or even pop-up outdoor movies that seem to be so popular these days. Visit city’s Twitter accounts! I can’t beg you enough!
Everybody likes to ignore the negative sides of travel. I can’t blame them! But should you run into a negative experience, turning to a company’s Twitter page might get you a quick answer or resolution. Notice that I never said, “Take angrily to Twitter and let everybody know how terrible XYZ company is and wrath and bitterness.” But a politely worded tweet expressing a concern you have might actually get you somewhere. I’ve never had to do this on my own travels (knock on wood), but I’ve noticed it on my feed with some surprisingly calm and positive responses! I think it’s most popular to tweet airlines, but get creative with your (polite and constructive) customer feedback.
Fun Bonus: Twitter Polls
Ever since I saw this piece on Buzzfeed where the author uses Twitter polls to dictate how she explores Berlin, I’ve wanted to do the same thing. Maybe I’ll have to set a time and try it in my home city of Philadelphia! Keep your eyes peeled.
So there you have it! All the reasons why I LOVE Twitter for travel planning. It's the first social media I turn to, but I wont leave the other ones hanging. Check back for my next installment in this series: Facebook for travel planning! And make sure to share this with anybody who a) loves social media and b) is getting ready to head out on a trip.
- What’s your favorite social media channel to use? Have you ever planned part (or all!) of a trip that way?
- Would you be interested in a printable checklist for next time you’re using different types of social media, including Twitter, for travel planning?