I went on a trip to Istanbul recently, and after coming back, I was on Facebook checking some of the pictures that people took of the trip. It was truly exciting to see what each one of them focused on in their pictures and the moments they captured. As I was flipping through the pictures, and adding those friends that I met on the trip to my Facebook, it dawned on me how different traveling nowadays is compared to even a decade ago.
This trip would have been a completely different experience if it wasn’t for social networking sites and the internet. So that sparked the idea to track how exactly the internet shaped this trip.
With a two part series, I’ll be discussing the tools and sites that helped make this trip a success without tearing a hole in my pockets. If you like this post, remember to subscribe to our feed in order not to miss part 2.
I usually start off by checking Lonely Planet for some overview information about the countries and locations I’m interested in visiting. This not only gives me a quick understanding about the nature of the country, there is also a list of blogs from that country that are included on the page, making my decision making process a lot easier. The Thorn Tree Forum of the Lonely planet is the place to get my questions answered, from the drinkability of Turkish tap water to which beach towns to hit near Izmir.
Next, I’ll hop on TripAdvisor to see the list of lodging options and their prices and get a feel for how much the trip would cost me, given that money is always a deciding factor when choosing where to travel to.
Now, although some establishments try to fake some of the reviews on TripAdvisor, the site still manages to maintain its unbiased nature and authority. On TripAdvisor you can sift through lodging with ease and their top rated lists make life a lot easier. They categorize lodging into hotels, beds & breakfasts and inns, specialty lodging (this includes hostels and hotel apartments) and rentals which are mainly apartments and villas for rent. They index enough property on the site for so many cities that you are bound to find the perfect lodging for you and learn everything you want to learn about it.
TripAdvisor also has some information about top attractions and restaurants that comes in handy but in no way a replacement to a Lonely Planet Guide book.
If I’m traveling inside the States, or another major city in Europe or Asia, I make sure to check TripKick to get some insider tips about the hotel and which room/floor to ask for. They don’t have a lot of locations indexed, but when they do it’s always top notch information. I’ve taken advantage of their information when planning overnight layovers in major airports.
The reason that I gravitate towards those sites is due to the fact that the advice I get there is that of other fellow travelers and locals mostly who are speaking out of experience. Adding in a splash of blog posts, accessed through Google Blog Search, helps balance out my take about a particular location or city, and if I’m lucky I’ll stumble upon some of the more local and hidden gems.
What about events?
The local attractions and tourist sites are always interesting to check when visiting a country but the experience is lacking if you don’t absorb some of the cultural nuances of your locale. To check for the events that are taking place in the country you are interested I head over to Joobili, the site is amazing! Joobili aggregates events that are occurring in many cities around the world allowing me to tweak my trip, and add an extra day to catch that Lady Gaga gig I always dreamed about attending or the oil wrestling festival.
After ironing out the details of when and where it is time to get personal and start squeezing the most juice out of your buck. While my backpacking days are mostly behind me I’m definitely more in posh packing nowadays.
I try to squeeze as much entertainment as I can out of my money and still try to remain within a reasonable and modest budget but I’ll be talking about that more in my next post so stay tuned.
How has social media changed the way you travel? What are your favorite resources for planning your trips?
Share your experience with us.