My brother just joined Twitter. This is somewhat amusing to me, because he’s still in the “What the heck is the purpose of this?” phase (note: that doesn’t stop his Twitter feed from being raunchily hilarious). I’ve been using Twitter for a few years (though the account I use now was created more recently than my older, personal account) and as I focus more on travel and travel blogging, its purpose has become apparent.
Being active on Twitter is a must for any travel blogger. Not only does it give you a great network with which to connect to other travel bloggers and promote your own articles and links, but it actually makes your travels better, too. Check out my reasons for how Twitter can help you in all your travels …
- Connect with other travel bloggers. The travel sphere is a tough one – there’s loads of people striving for the same goal (I mean, don’t we all want to be a cooler version of Rick Steves? A less-naughty version of Anthony Bourdain?), they’re incredibly active in the online space, and they’re often scattered across the country (or the world!). But Twitter helps give you an “in”, even with prominent writers and bloggers – you can connect, network, and keep up to date on industry trends.
- Be your own PR company. Okay, fine – so no one likes a blogger who continuously toots their own horn, but if you are creating great content, Twitter is a great way to let people know about it. Tweet your articles, posts, and photos to your followers – some folks might even retweet you, creating greater visibility for you and your work. Don’t forget to return the favor – retweet articles and follow people who you find interesting – it will increase your network and your Twitter karma.
- Record your travels. I don’t always have a pen and paper handy, but thanks to Twitter, I don’t need either to create an online record of the places I’ve visited in a city. When I want to write a blog about my past trip, I can simply look at my Twitter stream from that time (“Ah, first I tweeted from the Whitney, then from that awesome sandwich shop around the corner from it”). It also keeps my Twitter stream active – and hopefully interesting, too.
- Get travel advice in real time. Let’s face it – some of us don’t plan ahead (points finger at self), neglect to bring guidebooks (yup), and don’t do enough research before going on trips (guilty). Or sometimes plans change last minute, and you find yourself without a gameplan. Thanks to Twitter, this doesn’t mean the end of the world. If you need some advice (whether it’s a suggestion for where to eat or what attractions to see), simply tweet to your followers, asking for help. Odds are someone will have some great suggestions in no time.
- Don’t skimp on the hash tags. Not only are hash tags great for archiving (if you remember to tag relevant tweets, you won’t need to go through your entire stream looking for them) but they’re also handy when doing research for future trips/current trips. Heading to Seattle? Check out #Seattle to see what’s going on locally. Off to do some hiking? Find out what other folks are saying about that specific trail.
- Plan future trips. If you’re heading to a specific location, start following local Tweeps a few weeks before your trip (note: I love @LDN so much, I started following them before a UK trip, and never stopped). You’ll be able to get insider information, make plans, and might even find out about discounts and special events that would have been hard to uncover otherwise.
- Get up-to-date news, straight from the source. Because Twitter can be updated instantly, it often has information you won’t find anywhere else. Once, my hubby and I wanted to take a day trip to Mt. Rainier, but we weren’t sure which (if any) of the visitors’ centers were open. Their website didn’t reveal any information, nor did the local newspapers. So Rand tweeted to the visitors’ center itself, and we promptly received a reply: it was open, and the weather was great. We headed straight over.
- Be Spontaneous. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Tweets capturing the emphera of a city: “Free ice cream at 5th and Pine! Hurry up and get here!” or “Flash mob meeting at Westlake in 5 minutes. Hurry!”. These are the sort of here-one-minute gone-the-next events that one usually only happens on by chance (like the time I was sitting in traffic, starving. A chef stepped out of a local pizzeria, and started handing slices to people sitting in their cars, including me. It was magic). Thanks to Twitter, though, we have a constant news ticker of awesomeness on which to pounce.
- Get exclusive deals and discounts. More and more business are becoming aware of the power of Twitter – and many of them are seizing on the opportunity by offering exclusive deals and discounts. The Hotel Max in Seattle offers free wi-fi and a 15% discount to anyone following them on Twitter. Do a search for deals in your area (or wherever you’re headed) and you’ll be surprised by the number of legitimate, non-spammy deals out there.
- Meet up with friends – in real life! As crazy as it sounds, this was one of the original intended purposes of Twitter: to easily tell people where we were, so that, if they were in the same spot, we could possibly meet up. And while I rarely use Twitter in this matter, it does work amazing well. I recently thinking about skipping an event, but a quick glance at my Twitter stream revealed quite a few other people I knew were going to be there. I had to go (I couldn’t miss out on seeing so many cool people) – and I’m glad I did.
How do you use Twitter? What unique travel experiences do you owe to that indispensable site?
P.S. – Encourage travel awesomeness: Follow me on Twitter here!