As a travel blogger, I try to keep myself informed of the latest apps, tools, sites, and even try to read what other travel writers are contributing to the field. I read an article recently on the impact that social media has had on travel, which took a stance against emerging social technology, claiming that being tied to our devices makes us “miss out on great experiences” and that the endless posts online both shape our travel plans and take the sense of wonder out of travel. Although I understand the concern, I feel that based on my experiences, these technologies actually help us to plan better, travel cheaper, and voyage more authentically, making much deeper experiences that we can then share with friends and family and will personally remember for a lifetime.
The Desire to Share
Travel and social media are, like it or not, inextricably linked. People like to share what they are experiencing and enjoying, and why not? There is also a wonderful connectivity to this; we get to experience the travel of friends and family in almost real time, instead of having to wait until seeing them again to hear about it and see pictures. And although it is true that there is a saturation of travel experiences and pictures online, they aren’t all rose-tinted snaps that manipulate reality or make these experiences less authentic and somehow less special. Being one who contributes to this “saturation,” I at least feel more motivated to travel because of everything that I come into contact with online. When people share pictures and stories on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, I am only more intrigued and inspired to go, not dissuaded from it. I find also that you get a lot more ideas for travel, some that I would never have thought of on my own.
Blogging is something that goes hand in hand with social media as well, as blog posts can be linked to social media accounts and shared much more easily. Blogging isn’t even as hard as people think it is, you just have to choose a good CMS (content management system) and register a domain name, and then you can start writing and posting pictures as soon as possible. As for your readership, choosing a country-specific domain ending is one simple way that you can show your allegiance to a particular place. If, for example, your blog only concerns travel events and news in India, then this is what you should be using. This just displays to readers about where your blog is based.
Many of the emerging technology and services are geared towards giving insider and local advice and tips to travelers, which are being termed collaborative social travel services. Whether you are looking for vegetarian food in Hyderabad, an affordable place to crash in Rome, or want to experience something a little off the beaten path in Australia, the best way to find answers to these questions or get helpful tips is to ask others who have been there or locals who live there. Social media apps and platforms give travelers this access to this well-informed network and to have that network directly at their fingertips.
Collaborative Social Travel
So what is collaborative social travel? It is a unique, interconnected, socially involved form of travel that includes things like Couchsurfing, as well as joining a dinner party with locals and other traveling strangers through services like Feastly, PlateCulture, or EatWith. One of the ways that all of these social tools are actually counteracting this “artificiality of travel” is by allowing travelers a way to get emerged in a culture, experience a destination through local perspectives, and allowing them to forge a completely new and unique experience that is more authentic than what can be found in guidebooks.
With the many emerging social travel planning apps out there, there is a new world of opportunities open to travelers that calls for more unique experiences, and a lot less manufactured, stylized travel that directs travelers to those cliché “tourist attractions.” These tools allow us travelers to be bold, be different, and make experiences all our own, and that can only be a good thing.