4 Social Media Tools for Travel

Last week, I drove 3000 miles in 3 days—from upstate South Carolina to Northern California. During the trip I used a number of social media tools to share my trip progress. From twittering mini-location updates and interesting factoids about Route 66 to sharing images on Flickr, because of social media, this trip was different than many of the trips I’ve taken in the past.

Below I’ve  detailed 4 social media tools for travel. Whether you’re jetsetting from London to Bangladesh, just driving a couple hours down the interstate, or moving across the country, these tools can make your trip a little more interesting and a lot easier:

1. InsideTrip – I didn’t fly on this trip, but if I had, I would have used InsideTrip. InsideTrip not only alerts you to the cheapest fare by tracking ticket prices, but also rates flights by “TripQuality.” These ratings are determined by an algorithm that factors in travel duration, number of stops, aircraft type, legroom, connect time, gate location, and more. The site even lets users customize their own TripQuality score by selecting which factors are most important.

2. Dopplr – Dopplr bills itself as a “online service for intelligent business travellers.” The site lets you share travel plans, then plugs into cell phones and other web services to become an information hub for travelers. For instance, if I link Dopplr with my Flickr photos account, Dopplr will automatically pull photos tagged with my destination and link them to my trip journal on the site. Dopplr will also alert you if you and a fellow traveler have a common destination and a common time frame.

The value of Dopplr increases exponentially the more you travel, and also increases with the more friends you link to that are also traveling. I travel a few times per month, so the service is somewhat valuable for me. The current target audience of Dopplr seems to be the group of globetrotters that travel multiple times per week (like Jan Chipchase of Nokia), but I think the company is betting on the fact that the number of people traveling often will increase in the future.

Twitter Update

3. Twitter – Many people use Twitter to update friends on “what they are doing”, but the service is also extremely useful when traveling. Instead of calling three or four people as soon as I arrive at my destination when traveling (usually to announce that I am still on time or running late), I now direct friends, family, and business colleagues to my Twitter account. Instead of making several different phone calls, I now send one text update from my cell phone to my Twitter account. Anyone that wants an update on travel progress can check the Twitter feed at a time when their schedule permits.

4. TripAdvisor – Before I land at a new location, I always scope it out on TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor has “15,000,000+ traveler review & opinions of hotels, vacations and more.” I used the site to find a running trail in California and something to do during the couple hours I stopped in Albuquerque, NM.

No matter where you’re going or where you end up unplanned, a quick check on TripAdvisor can provide plenty of ideas for things to visit and experience. And for iPhone users, there’s even a TripAdvisor application (link to iTunes App Store) that will automatically read your location and suggest local restaurants to check out.

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