Using Twitter for Travel

Posted: February 4, 2009    Categories: Travel

If you recall, I have written about why you don’t need a guidebook to travel. They are heavy, expensive and out of date. Since I’ve wrote that article, I’ve encountered even more examples of how guidebooks have failed travelers and they had to end up getting information locally anyhow.

But I’m not here to open up that can of worms again….

I want to talk about how great Twitter is for getting information while you are on the road. Twitter is called a “microblogging” platform. You can post messages upto 140 characters. If you think posting 140 character messages is stupid, you aren’t alone. Pretty much everyone things Twitter is stupid when they first hear about it. I thought it was stupid.

Once you start using it, however, it becomes addictive. Twitter is in some respects on a par with my website. If you follow me on Twitter you’ll be notified of my blog posts, but you can also have a conversation on top of that.

Tonight I posted two questions to the world via Twitter:

1) Serious question: how do I remove the smell from a pair of sandals? it is so bad I can’t stand to be near myself.

2) any suggestions for what to do/see in Bahrain?

Below are a sample of the answers I got from people over a period of about 30 minutes. Some people sent me private messages and some people replied via Facebook. (Its a long image, make sure to scroll down)

Within minutes I was able to pick the collective mind of the internet and get some really specific advice for the questions I had. Stinky sandals is pretty general but questions about Bahrain was pretty specific. In both cases, people came through with some pretty good advice.

This is sort of immediacy and specificity is something you will never get on the printed page and is another reason why guidebooks will go the way of the dodo in the 21st Century. Doubt me? @Benjilanyado is currently on a trip to Paris using nothing but Twitter to do research.

I’ll often answer questions from people if it deals with one of the places I’ve been, or if someone has questions about long term travel. Not only do you know who you are dealing with, you have the ability to ask follow up questions, which you can’t do with a guidebook.

If you aren’t on Twitter, give it a shot even if you think it is lame. It is something you really can’t “get” until you try it. If you are thinking of traveling anytime soon, you’ll find it indispensable.

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