Social media has changed the travel game while infusing our souls with sublime wanderlust. Here is an array of unique sources that will enable you to find the cheapest airfare, insider travel tips from locals, and improve your vacation experience overall. Amplify your knowledge and your most thrilling adventure will be on its way.
There was a time when every American’s honeymoon was spent in Hawaii, summer vacations driving to Disneyland were the norm and Jamaica or Mexico were the most exotic locations your heart could imagine. Those days are dead and gone. Social media has changed the way we play the game but not everyone has learned how to make it work in their favor.
Remote locations around the globe have become increasingly accessible. Insider wisdom of where to dine, unique activities and the sites to behold are now conveniently found with mere strokes of your fingertips. The world has gotten smaller and, concurrently, our minds have broadened. Travel has always been exciting, but now that exhilaration has been turned on high, due to the legion of websites that can help you make your next holiday absolutely extraordinary. While it is true that many of those websites have been around for years, it is social media that is making you aware of their existence today.
Choosing Your Destination
We have all been enticed by our friends’ Facebook posts or Instagram pics about their favorite spots around the world. Our news feeds are also full of articles with suggestions such as the following:
You will certainly find inspiration at every scroll of your mouse. Feel free to explore!
Booking Your Flight
“I’ve just booked my flight!”
We have all seen this common status post a gazillion times and each time we wish it were us posting it. When it comes time to book your next holiday, most people on social media start their search from the comfort of their computers. Here are some useful websites that are should become your go-to sites for booking your next getaway:
- ITA Software – Matrix Airfare Search: This website is powered by Google and provides the best airfares ever found. You can try changing the ‘sales city’ or ‘currency’ in order to locate the best deal. The only drawback is that you cannot purchase flights directly from this site. You can get the information and take it to a travel agent, airline, or use Hipmunk to buy the flight.
- Skyscanner: Scan all the major airlines and the low-cost ones as well. Select ‘whole month’ in order to view the lowest fares during your desired departure date range.
- Last Minute: A flight scanning website that will generate alternate flights.
- E-Dreams: Compare fares to the other websites and explore your options.
- Where For: Where you can go for what you can spend. Just enter your budget amount, the number of travelers, your preferred dates and departure city; then, explore all the possible destinations where your money can take you.
If you make a mistake while booking, please keep in mind that some airlines, including Ryanair, give you a 24-hour grace period to change your flight without incurring any fees.
Where To Stay
You might find that your Instagram friends post a play-by-play of their entire trip online. Ask them about their experiences and the following websites tend to be mentioned:
- AirBnb: This service provides you with people’s homes that you can rent for the duration of your trip. We have used AirBnb numerous times and have enjoyed unique and spectacular experiences. The best way to ensure a positive experience is to follow a few simple steps.
- Read the reviews. Use Google Translate if necessary.
- Select a host with a ‘verified’ profile.
- Contact the host and ask specific questions. This way you’ll see how quickly they respond.
- Confirm that the address is in the area you desire.
- Book your place.
- Be a good guest by treating the place as you would want your home to be treated.
- Leave an honest review.
- Tripadvisor: While you can find numerous deals on booking sites such as the following:
- Make sure you read what previous guests have written about your possible choice of hotel before you book it. I prefer to read the worst reviews first, because that is where you will find any problems with the hotel. If the complaints seem based on a one-off situation, or are minor problems, then go ahead and book. In order to learn about the best room or section to book in, read the room recommendations.
- Priceline: Try bidding for a room in a 5-star hotel. With Priceline, you can select the area in your destination city. Then you select the star rating you seek. If your bid is accepted, you will be guaranteed a hotel room with your selected star rating or higher. You card will only be charged if your bid is accepted. You are only permitted one bid per zone per day, therefore choose your bid wisely by using Bidding Traveler to view previously accepted bids.
Getting Tips From The Locals
Once you know where you would like to visit, the best way to get insider information is to talk to people who live there. This is easier than you think. They are right there, where you have been browsing all along.
- Facebook Expat Groups: Search for ‘expats’ + and you will discover a plethora of groups for each location where expats communicate and ask questions. While groups vary depending on the nature of the group or its city, you can usually find groups where every question asked will get numerous replies from locals.
- Meetup: Whether you are traveling alone or with friends, if you would like to meet people who live where you are going, then joining one of the like-minded groups on Meet Up would be ideal. There are groups for wine connoisseurs , entrepreneurs, single mothers, photography aficionados, art enthusiasts, jazz lovers and so much more. Find a group that represents you and join their events while you are visiting their city.
- A Small World: This exclusive, paid-subscription social network is made up of jet-setters and “internationally-minded people committed to opening their lives to each other, sharing extraordinary experiences, and ensuring that fellow members can live like locals wherever they go.” You can apply for membership and enjoy their exclusive privileges.
- InterNations: “The leading network & guide for expats in 390 cities worldwide. Connect with fellow expatriates at top events and receive tips & advice on expat life.” Numerous events are held in cities all over the world. Visit their website and find the event nearest you.
- Tourist Information: There are websites online as well as kiosks located in city centers. You will find a vast array of information that will guide you to decide upon your best possible itinerary.
Where To Eat
What news feed is complete without the obligatory snapshot of someone’s dinner? The following websites are the top methods of locating your new favorite restaurant.
- Tripadvisor: Read the reviews from previous diners in order to select a great place to eat and also to know what to order once you are there. Make sure you download the app, as it will be beneficial when you are exploring the city. Knowing where the best restaurants are, can be superb. However, if it is located on the opposite side of town at the time that hunger strikes, then the information is useless. The app will show you the best restaurants near you and it will connect with Google Maps to show you how to get there.
- Yelp: You might find more reviews on Yelp, especially if you are searching for US cities.
- Foursquare: This app will show you some great places nearby that others have recommended and you can also conduct a search for restaurants, lounges, bars and more.
Before you check in on Facebook and let people know where you are, you might want to learn about what there is to find, in advance.
- Google Maps: Use street view to see everything that is around the area where you are staying. When I visited Oslo, I arrived knowing exactly what restaurants were near my hotel. I had already planned my jog, which took me through two parks and I knew how to get to the famous sights. Even when I took a wrong turn, I managed to find my way based solely on the memory of the Google map.
- Public Transportation: Review how to get around like the locals and figure out the public transportation ahead of time. This saved me loads of time while in Bangkok. We got from the airport to our AirBnb apartment via public transportation, without ever having to ask for directions or information. I always download local apps for public transportation. Knowing where you’re going not only makes you feel like a local but you also look like one and are less likely to be targeted by tourist scammers.
- Youtube: There are numerous videos that will give you suggestions, show you the way or provide useful details to enrich your journey. The Bangkok airport to city metro trip was confusing on paper. However, after viewing it all in a video, I was able to make every train change and purchase tickets without any assistance.
- Get informed of typical scams: Nothing will ruin your vacation faster than getting ripped off. Every city has its criminal activity. Inform yourself of what they are in order to remain aware and avoid them.
- Health risks: Inform yourself on whether you need to take malaria pills or get any vaccines. Some countries will deny you entry without the proper vaccines, depending on your country of origin. Make sure you know whether you can drink the water or not and what to do if you require medical attention.
- Enjoy: Keep your heart and mind open and allow yourself to get lost in the culture. Unforgettable experiences occur when you shed your preconceived notions and embrace your surroundings and all it has to offer. Talk to as many people as you can and get to know some of the locals. Learn some phrases in the local language and you will feel how wonderful it is to connect with people.
It is obvious that social media has changed the way we travel. What is not always obvious is the myriad sources that will enhance your vacation from beginning to end. Take these tools that I have offered you and soar! Then remember to share your experiences:
- Facebook: Check in, wherever you go or post a status update about the wonderful time you are having. Just remember to only make it visible to your list of real-life friends. Making your travel plans visible to all may encourage an intruder.
- Twitter: Use a witty hashtag as you describe your travel experience.
- Instagram: Share your vacation shots with your friends.
- Pinterest: Post the best photographs of your destination.
- Tripadvisor: Review the places where you stayed or dined in order to help guide future visitors.
- Show your gratitude: Pay it forward by sharing and commenting. Social media is helpful, but only because others have spoken first. Now it is your turn. Thank those who helped you by letting them know how they improved your vacation via a comment on their blog, website or post. They will be happy to learn that they helped you improve your experience.
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” – Thoreau