Once you’ve chosen your dates and destination, the next step is to dive into researching (the fun part)! Today I’m sharing my favorite resources that have proven success time and time again. Hint – it’s all social media! My next planning post will show you exactly how I’m organizing all of my research for my Europe trip, which will serve as a great template for any of you who may feel overwhelmed by all of your hard work and research.
Anyone who knows me well or has traveled with me can attest to how thorough and detailed my research is prior to any trip. To be honest, I’ve always thought the researching step in the planning process was pretty straightforward. But as I’ve come to learn more recently, it certainly isn’t for everyone.
Using Social Media For Research, NOT Travel Review Sites
Over time I’ve come to realize that the majority of people who take the effort to write a review on Yelp or TripAdvisor probably had an extreme experience, one way or another. I personally have never felt inclined to write a review on either of these sites, so why would I look to people I can’t relate to for recommendations? Instead, I love utilizing social media for suggestions that are often real-time and more genuine.
I think Facebook is the easiest and fastest way to get recommendations, often leading the best results. The majority (if not all) of your Facebook friends know you well enough to know what you would like or not like. For example, my friends would probably not suggest a simple sports bar to me, or a rollerblading/ice skating venue (I have no balance!). Instead, my recommendations are a bit more tailored. “You would love XYZ.” I think it’s worth noting here that sometimes I have not gotten much of a response from Facebook friends, and that’s okay. It’s a little disappointing but take what you can get. After all, it was the easiest way out.
Similar to Facebook, asking for recommendations via Instagram stories can also lead great results. For me, I find that my “Instagram” audience is a bit different than my “Facebook” audience, so I’m able to touch different people with the same question. If you’re in a pinch, you can even do a poll “should I go here or here?”
In addition to simply asking for recommendations to my followers, I always pay attention to the location of where people are posting from and screenshot anything that might be relevant for planning later on. Knowing that a friend went somewhere I’m planning to go means that I can message them directly for suggestions, and ask them specifically about the place they geo-tagged. Not all Instagram-friendly places are actually good!
I also like to search “places” on Instagram that I’m interested in to get a feel for what the menu items and atmosphere look like. It has swayed me to and away from going to places in the past.
Foursquare is a bit of a throwback, but I’m more into it now than ever before. I’ve used it for the majority of trips I’ve covered here on the blog and it has proven it’s accuracy and reliability. Going through the top-rated places and the most mentioned dishes is so helpful, as well as the map feature. I create a list for every destination (you can see all my lists here!) and save every place of interest to my list. It’s so quick to add to if someone suddenly mentions a place. FYI you can add up to 200 places per list (which is more than enough for most destinations, but if it’s not, you can split it up by neighborhood). Foursquare is not good for brand new places, which likely haven’t been covered yet.
Similar to (and owned by) Foursquare, Swarm is another throwback. They work together seamlessly. When you “check in” to somewhere on Swarm, it goes directly into your “history” on Foursquare. This feature becomes more useful as you increase the number of people you follow. For example, my boyfriend has been using it for years, but used it pretty religiously while he was in Europe a couple years ago. Most people can’t remember every single place they went to, but all he had to do was go to his Swarm history. For any place that one of your friends has checked in to, it’ll show on Foursquare when you are viewing that specific place.
Pinterest serves the unique ability to see travel guides gathered into one place shared by thousands if not millions of people. I write travel guides because I know how useful they have been and continue to be to me. I have been pretty diligent about pinning every travel guide I’ve found useful to my Wanderlust board for years, and more recently organized it by general area/destination for my reference and others.
I have been totally off my Twitter game for a while now, so I can’t speak to how it would be most useful for travel planning.
Do you have any ways of utilizing social media for your trip research? I’d love to know!