Recently Twitter, the micro-blogging service and current “it” brand of the web, turned 3 years old. Yet, while most three-year olds we know spend their time observing others and imitating their parents, Twitter is busy trying to create a new communication platform (and vocabulary) for the web.
Twitter for budget travelers?
So what does this mean for you, the budget traveler? Should you care? Do you really need to know about “tweets,” DMs and “followers”? Do you really want to introduce yet another social network into your daily routine?
Well, here is a primer to help answer a few of these questions and provide a proper introduction to Twitter… Cheapo-style!
The basics: what is Twitter?
Twitter allows members to send and read short messages (“tweets”) between themselves and other users. These tweets are text-based, frequently contain links to articles on other websites, and are limited to only 140 characters in length.
Twitterers are able to post tweets as frequently (or infrequently) as they like and on any subject they wish. As you might guess, there is a vast variety of subjects being tweeted.
Want to know if your cousin Larry just burned his coffee? No prob. Want to ask President Obama a question about the economy? Go for it. Interested in telling NBA great Shaquille O’Neal what to order at Dairy Queen and read other “random acts of Shaqness”? The list is endless.
Hmm… kind of sounds like Facebook’s status updates, right?
Well, sort of. One of the main differences is that anyone can “follow” someone else on Twitter without being approved Follow travel writers: If you have specific travel columnists, travel bloggers or other travel personalities you enjoy reading, look them up on Twitter. Most have a “Twitter presence” and reading their Tweets can add a fun, new dimension to what you read from them elsewhere.
—Only follow those who truly interest you: There’s a “beginner’s instinct” to build your list of followers by rapidly following others, but what’s the point? Twitter is most helpful and useful when you genuinely look forward to reading the Tweets being sent your way.
—Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to ask a question or request travel advice. We recently were looking for a budget hotel in Los Angeles and posted a Tweet asking for suggestions, and within minutes several Twitterers provided helpful recommendations. Tweet-o-rific!
—Share the love: Similarly, be on the lookout for Tweets where you can add helpful feedback or offer advice. It’s a two-way “Twitter Street,” and since we joined we’ve enjoyed the sense of community that builds over time from others in our network.
—Get airline info: Follow your preferred airlines for updates and offers for last minute deals.
—Stay in touch: Twittering makes it easy for the folks back home to follow your adventures abroad. Of course, you run the risk of overdoing it. But your followers may appreciate the chance to travel with you. Also, Twittering on the road permits you to ask your followers for rapid-fire advice on, say, a restaurant in Madrid.
—Get organized: For those who become hooked, consider using a Twitter “client” such as TweetDeck. These websites help manage your Twitter account, create individual groups, and make Twittering feel more organized and less manic.
A Few notable travel twitterers
twitter.com/eurocheapo – Surprise!
twitter.com/budtravel – The editors of BudgetTravel.com
twitter.com/jenleo – Updates from the LA Times travel blog editor
twitter.com/wendyperrin – Conde Nast Traveler’s very own Wendy Perrin
twitter.com/soultravelers3 – Updates from a family of three traveling the world
twitter.com/SEKeener – Follow Cheapo-friend and co-founder of BootsnAll.com, Sean Keener, while he travels throughout Australia
twitter.com/samdaams – Pithy updates from Sam Daams, the co-founder of Travellerspoint.com
Do you Tweet?
Do you have recommendations for using Twitter? Are there other travel Twitterers you enjoy following? Do you agree that Twitter can be helpful, or do you find it a waste of time?
Tell us in the comments below!