Earlier this month Twitter announced that it is now available in 28 languages, and millions of people around the world are active on the social networking site. If you have been hesitant to jump on the 140-character bandwagon, here is just one more reason you should: It can be a great travel tool. Whether you are looking for travel inspiration or ideas for what to do when you reach your destination, Twitter provides a wealth of helpful travel information.
Twitter is a Great Source of Travel Inspiration
Twitter can be a great place to get inspiration for an upcoming trip. Use the search function in Twitter to search for individuals and companies that Tweet general travel related information. Travel + Leisure, Budget Travel, and, of course, Go Green Travel Green are all wonderful sources of inspiration.
Once you decide where your next adventure will take you, you can look for location-specific information. We are hoping to visit a friend in Israel soon. A quick Google search for “Israel tourism twitter” resulted in a couple of accounts that Tweet information about areas in Israel to visit, general tourism information, and tips for travel in the region.
You can also use Pinterest to organize all of your travel inspiration and information.
Find Local Hotspots Using Twitter
While traveling, I want to get the most authentic experience possible. Guidebooks and travel magazines are helpful, but I worry that they are sending me to tourist traps rather than the local hotspots. So I love to use Twitter for travel and uncovering local treasures. It’s a great way to find the restaurants that locals are raving about.
A few weeks ago, my husband and I were in Edinburgh, Scotland. It was a last-minute trip and we had not done any research about what to see or where to eat. So we turned to Twitter. By searching #edinburgh, we found great restaurants that were off the beaten path.
Use Twitter to Find Travel Deals
Twitter can be a great place to find relevant travel deals for the area you are visiting. Various “deal of the day” sites like Groupon are popping up all over the world, and most are active on Twitter. By following them, you can find great deals on eating out, activities, and even hotels in the region.
By following your favorite airlines or travel search engines on Twitter, you will be the first to know about any specials or travel deals they are offering. If you need special gear for your travels, following stores like REI on Twitter can be a great way to find out about sales.
Stay Up-to-Date with Breaking News
Twitter can be a great way to stay up-to-date with breaking news while traveling. The US Department of State is surprisingly active on Twitter. Not only do they post travel warnings and alerts, they also respond to passport- and travel-related questions. By following your favorite news sites on Twitter, you can stay up-to-date on the latest world news that could potentially affect your trip. Here’s a list of news organizations on Twitter — you can follow everyone from the BBC and CNN to local and regional newspapers and TV stations.
Last year, as we were getting ready to drive through Malawi, we heard from a friend that there was a fuel shortage in the country, but we couldn’t find any recent news articles on the situation. Once again, we turned to Twitter and Facebook and there were a lot of locals posting about the fuel shortage. We learned that there had not been diesel fuel delivered to any gas station in the country for three weeks. Because of this, we carried enough fuel in jerry cans to get us all the way through the country. Other travelers were not so lucky; we met people that paid nearly $20 a gallon for black market fuel to be able to get out of Malawi.
Connect with Customer Service via Twitter
Have you ever had a terrible customer service experience while traveling? Consider using Twitter for travel complaints. Whether you are trying to get your name changed on your ticket, or were treated poorly by a customer service representative, the social networking site is a great place to get instant help. Many companies respond quickly when customers turn to Twitter to ask for help or voice their frustration.
Use Twitter Chats for Travel Information
Looking for an interactive way to discuss travel with other travelers? Try Twitter chats — conversations based in Twitter. Anyone can join the chat just by following and mentioning whatever hashtag has been assigned to the chat. Think of it as a cross between Twitter and a chatroom.
Expedia hosts a Twitter chat each Wednesday at 10:30 am PST. To join, just search and follow the #ExpChat hashtag during these times. Just last week they gave away a $500 Expedia voucher to one lucky participant. Travel Talk on Twitter (#ttot) is another popular weekly Twitter chat that happens on Tuesdays. If you are heading to Mexico, every Monday is #MexMonday, where people discuss Mexican tourism on Twitter.
If you are new to Twitter, check out this guide put out by Twitter. It will help you get started with an account so you can put these tips into practice!
Have you used Twitter for travel inspiration or information? What tips do you have?