using social media to plan travel, travel hacks

ATHENS, GA – MARCH 05: General crowd atmosphere as The Flaming Lips perform at The Georgia Theatre on March 5, 2018 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Chris McKay/Getty Images)

Use Facebook to find local events or to join a travel group

Do people even use Facebook anymore? If you’re one of those users who has the app and only opens it to make the notifications tick go away, keep it open! Facebook is actually very helpful in finding ways to travel like a local. When you open the app, click on the hamburger lines at the bottom right hand of the screen. Then, click Events. If you allow Facebook to use your location, it will show you tons of activities happening around you. For instance, if you’re traveling in Melbourne, Australia and open the Events page, it might show you sporting games, music shows, food festivals, or museum exhibitions that are currently taking place. It’s a very savvy tool to help you find underground events or activities that you might enjoy in a foreign place.

Another way to use Facebook for travel is to join groups. Let’s say you plan on traveling to South America for a few weeks and you don’t know anyone else in your immediate friend circle who’s been there. In the Facebook search bar, type in “backpacking South America.” There might be a few groups you can join that are focused on traveling this part of the world (don’t worry, the advice isn’t specifically catered to backpackers). Once you join a group, you can peruse the previous posts to see what people are talking about, or you can ask questions, seek travel tips, and connect with other travelers who might be more familiar with a place. You’ll be surprised how much people genuinely want to help and share useful recommendations. You might find out that booking a tour to see Machu Picchu is more beneficial than doing it on your own.

Use Instagram to search for cool things to see

sedona, travel hacks, social mediasedona, travel hacks, social media
Pexels/Trace Hudson

Instagram is easy to get sucked into once you’re using it. We might open it and get distracted looking at memes when we meant to do something else. But rather than posting a story of you laying by the pool, use Instagram to help you find things to do. When you open the app, click on the search icon at the bottom left-hand of the screen. In the search bar, type in your location. For instance, Sedona, Arizona. By browsing through the geotag, you might find some cool hikes or scenery that you didn’t know was around you!

The city’s Discovery Story might also show an underground event happening in the area. If you’re looking for something specific to do in a new place, use hashtags to help your searches, such as #HikingSedona #SedonaEats or #SedonaEscape. You might be able to find five or six more activities to help you plan your vacation or even find tours.

Use Twitter to see what people are talking about in the city

Twitter is a pretty useful tool in finding advice, articles, or blog posts related to your destination. If you type in the search bar #AustinTX, Twitter will direct you to a different newsfeed full of people talking about Austin. If you have a scroll through it, you might find a few event postings or tourism boards that can help you find things to do.

If searching Twitter is taking too much time, simply post a question using the right hashtags. For example, #ATX #AustinTX #ThingsToDo. There are A LOT of users out there in the Twitter-world looking to engage with people and answer questions. Someone might recommend an underground bar that you’d never heard of in order to help you travel like a local.  

Use Pinterest to find blogs on the destination

If you’re a big Pinterest person, then you might already know that it’s a great tool to help you travel. You can type ANYTHING into the search bar and it will come up with something (we’re not being dramatic). Pinterest is specifically helpful in finding blogs catered around the destination you’re planning to visit. The blogs can help you with anything from packing, to hikes, to figuring out the best time of year to go to Iceland. Seriously, Pinterest can plan your entire summer vacation if you use it right.

If you type in the search bar “packing tips for Europe summer” — hundreds of ideas will pop up. You can even use the word suggestions to find specifically what type of bag to bring. As we said, it can plan everything for you. Pinterest is also a great tool for finding blogs that will give practical travel tips or advice on how to find travel deals on a budget.

Use Google Maps to find the best places to eat

night market, travel hacks
night market, travel hacks
Unsplash/Joshua Rawson-Harris

We know, we know, Google isn’t technically a social media platform. But it is one darn savvy app when it comes to finding pharmacies, hotels, groceries, cafes, shopping, or parks. When you open the app in a foreign place, an “Explore Nearby” tab should pop up from the bottom of your screen. As the name implies, this will let you discover what’s happening around you. It is specifically handy for finding places to eat. Let’s say you’re in Tokyo, Japan and you want to find the best ramen, simply type “ramen restaurant” in the search bar or click the ramen icon under the Explore tab. From there, it will gather the best ramen in the area based on reviews and you can scroll through to find what you’re looking for. It’s not just with food, you can use the search bar to find nearby yoga studios, art museums, or amusement parks. Make sure to download offline maps so that you can use them when you’re away from wifi. Another great way to use Google Maps is to open the app and tap on the “For You” icon at the bottom right of the screen. This will zoom in on your location and create personalized suggestions for restaurants or events that you might be interested in (Google knows everything, right?). It will give you a head’s up about new restaurant openings, restaurant deals, and underground events.

So rather than use social media to give your followers FOMO about your vacation, use it strategically to plan your trip. You might find some hidden gems that the guidebooks aren’t telling you about.