3 Ways Social Media Has Changed the Way We Travel

Social networks, websites and apps have become go-to tools for trip planning and travel advice.  

By Drew Goldberg, ContributorDec. 17, 2015
By Drew Goldberg, ContributorDec. 17, 2015, at 10:56 a.m.
U.S. News & World Report

3 Ways Social Media Has Changed the Way We Travel

(iStockPhoto)

With digital tools like Twitter and Instagram, you can discover new places you want to visit, gather recommendations from friends and connect with like-minded travelers who share your interests.(iStockPhoto)

Through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Pinterest, our desire to discover new places has grown exponentially. And with a wealth of digital-savvy tools at our fingertips, it's easy to see why we've become obsessed with staying connected on social media platforms. If we don't have our mobile devices within arms' reach, we feel isolated and out of touch. 

We also use social media to share travel experiences with close ones and connect with friends and family, near and afar. And in today's digital age, it's hard to go to the beach or attend a big event, without 'checking in' on Facebook or uploading a photo to Instagram. Let's face it: Social networks are bigger today than ever, and with a rise of new platforms and mobile technology, social media will continue to influence the industry and the way we travel. Many social applications, especially mobile-friendly platforms, like Instagram and Snapchat, are becoming the go-to platforms for connecting with each other and sharing our life experiences. With that in mind, here are three ways social media has impacted how we travel.  

We Can Easily Discover New Places

Just a decade ago, before we turned to social media for travel-planning inspiration, we relied on print guidebooks to tap into new destinations around the world. But today, social media takes connectivity to a new level. With social media outlets enabling stories, pictures and status updates to go viral, it's never been easier to learn about exotic places.

On Instagram and Twitter, for example, you can search common hashtags to see real-time content from people who are in the area. On Snapchat and Periscope, you can watch live-streamed videos from people across the globe. And on Facebook, you can follow travel brands, industry experts and friends for inspiration.

We're Always Connected

When you're on the road, there's no better way to engage with the local culture than utilizing social media platforms to connect with residents that share your interests. And in addition to mainstream social networks, there are a number of other social applications that make meeting others a breeze.

Couchsurfing, for instance, links travelers with locals who have extra room to spare in their house.  The app offers a platform for members to stay on couches (or beds) at a local's home. You can also post a message in a public group forum to ask for travel advice and arrange meet-ups with local residents. Meanwhile, the BonAppetour app helps connect travelers with local hosts to savor home-cooked meals and other dining experiences, such as cooking classes. And the Party with a Local app, as its name suggests, connects like-minded travelers, locals and expats nearby who want to party. To help ensure safety, you can even browse user profiles and reviews to get a sense of users' interests before meeting in real life. Other social-driven dating apps, such as Tinder and Hinge, help match users around the world in a given location. And though such apps aim to help connect singles, they can offer a useful tool for meeting people around the world.   

We're Constantly Sharing Travel Experiences With Friends and Family

Perhaps the main reason we use social networks is to show off to our friends. Our favorite activity is posting photos of ourselves on a beach in Thailand, or in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris or along the Great Wall of China

What does this do? It shares scenes from vibrant destinations across the globe to people in our network, inspiring our friends to get out and explore the world. Posting photos from exciting places also introduces our loved ones to lesser-known and underappreciated places they've never heard of before.

These three reasons, among many more, are clear signs social media has shifted the way we travel. And with the chance to easily discover awe-inspiring places and connect with new travel companions the world over through interactive features and tools, it might just be for the better.

Drew Goldberg, Contributor

As a recent University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, Drew Goldberg has visited more than 75 ...  Read more

About En Route

Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.

Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.

Edited by Liz Weiss.

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