There’s no better way to explore a new location or rediscover a familiar one than to do so with advice from people who have lived or traveled there before you – and social media apps are fast becoming the best way to connect travelers with these insiders!
Traveling enthusiasts aren’t shy about sharing any part of their adventures. From the “does anyone know the cheapest flights to Italy?” Facebook crowd-sourcing post to the thousand Instagrams of their epic hike or perfect capuccino, travelers have found ways to use social media to share every part of their journey.
While existing social media networks might be the best way to inspire jealousy in your followers, or to share your experiences with friends at home, they certainly aren’t designed with travelers in mind.
Thankfully, there are a number of social media apps designed specifically for travelers and their needs. Some of them are great travel websites that have been converted into apps for additional functionality, but others have been designed specifically for on-the-go use.
Whether you are planning a road trip around your local area, or a round-the-world event, you want to be sure that the resources you have enable you to:
- plan ahead for your adventure
- give you great alternatives when things don’t go as planned
- allow you to meet up with (and learn from) locals and experienced travelers
- provide you with the functionality you need to share your adventures with those at home
When planning a vacation you want to involve knowledgable people from the very beginning. After all, you want to make sure that your vacation includes all of the sights are worth seeing, and no activities that aren’t in-line with your interests. Furthermore, you don’t want to waste money on reservations for a hotel that isn’t clean, or a restaurant that is notorious for its poor quality dinners. These two apps are both fantastic resources for introducing you to activities, lodgings, and restaurants, while also providing you with insights from other users.
Foursquare has been a mainstay in online travel planning for many years, but recently updated its app’s interface to be more intuitive and user-friendly. The app offers an incredible number of functions, and allows you to search for nearby attractions based on distance from your destination or current location, rating, or Foursquare’s personalized estimate of your tastes.
The app also offers you the chance to follow travelers who have similar tastes to your own, read reviews from other travelers, and add your own insights to help fellow travelers in the future. The ability to create and save your information in a profile means that your preferences, saved locations, and information will always be available to you, whether in the planning stages or in the midst of your trip.
Trover is one of the best apps available when looking for travel inspiration. The home screen presents you with many different feeds of beautiful images to view, including a “hot” feed, a “new” feed, feeds specific to different locations, or feeds based on hashtags that have been assigned by users.
This app focuses more on the travel experiences of individual users and beautiful photographs than providing in-depth reviews or traveler tips. These functions make Trover ideal for conceptualizing a vacation you hope to take, but another app may be required to make your trip a reality.
Using apps to plan ahead for your trip is all well and good, but what if despite all your careful planning you make a wrong turn, your plane gets canceled, or your reservations fall through?
Thankfully there are apps to help you cope and make decisions on the go! These apps use your location to find the best activities and destinations nearby, and offer great information to help you make quick decisions.
HeyLets (iOS only, Android)
HeyLets has a similar feel to Foursquare, but a simpler interface and is most effective when you focus on your immediate surroundings. Instead of selecting multiple interests, the app leads you through a brief questionnaire when you first sign in and sorts interests and locations into five main categories (“Classic”, “Stylish”, “Hip”, “Elegant”, and “Edgy”).
You can use the app to view nearby attractions by keyword, “trending”, “recommended”, and their distance from your current location. Each point of interest features reviews and images from other users. HeyLets makes it easy to follow other users, add locations to your wishlist, and post your own reviews.
GoGoBot is my favorite app out of all the ones I trialed for this article. Its interface is beautiful and user-friendly, and provides travelers with a wealth of information including weather and local airports.
Using your current location, GoGoBot can locate accommodation, food, or entertainment with literally the push of a button. Users leave comments in the form of either “postcards” featuring an image and a brief description, or a classic review featuring a 1-5 star rating system and a comment.
There are so many amazing travel benefits that come from exploring a new city with someone who knows the area like the back of their hand. This experience may be easy to capture if you are travelling to visit friends, but chances are that eventually you will come across a travel destination where no one you know lives.
Social media apps that brig people together in real life can bring a richness to your travel and experiences. Best of all, you can generally assume that others using the app are as interested in meeting new people as you are, guaranteeing you the chance to make a new friend for a day or maybe even a lifetime!
Best known for its role in travelling on a budget , Couchsurfing’s website and app have been well-used over the past several years by students and other budget-conscious travelers looking for a free place to stay.
Even if crashing on a stranger’s couch isn’t your preferred style of accommodation, the app can still be a great resource for meeting new people around the world. Every profile on the website features information about Couchsurfing hosts (a bio written by the host themselves, and reviews left by other travelers) and photos. If you find a host in the area you will be traveling in, it is worth sending them a message to see if they would be willing to meet for a meal, offer a tour, or go out for a drink at some point during your travels.
Share Your Stories
Back in the day, sharing stories about your travel experiences meant inviting your friends over for an evening spent watching hundreds of slides. Years later, Facebook allowed for photo albums consisting of hundreds of photos that (let’s be honest) most of your friends won’t want to look at. Using an app targeted at sharing your travels gives you an avenue to share your travels online with interested friends and family while you are away.
Starting a travel blog is a great way to record your travels, but it may require more work or time spent online than you are hoping to expend while travelling. Off Exploring is the perfect cross between classic social media posts and a personal blog.
Post types include blogs, photos, and videos which can be uploaded with descriptions. The posts can be shared to existing social media accounts if preferred, or can be accessed through the user’s unique web address. All posts can also be tagged with locations so that they can be viewed by other users posting or reading about the same geographic area!
Traveling with Technology
There is definitely a lot to be said against being over-reliant on technology while traveling. I certainly don’t recommend using your phone or tablet as a substitute for being adventurous, talking to those you meet on your travels, or storing memories in your mind.
However, having a few quality apps readily available at your fingertips can improve your travel experience significantly and help you find hidden jewels throughout your travels that you may have missed otherwise.
What has been your best travel experience with social media? What has been your worst?
Image Credits: Couple of tourists Via Shutterstock, Chinese New Year Smartphone by Mr.TinDC via Flickr