Twitter Tips from 25 Tweeting Travelers
Lists: We asked some of our favorite travel tweeters for their best tips for using Twitter on the road
04.10.09 | 12:02 PM ET
Our columnist Rolf Potts isn’t too hot on using Twitter overseas. But he’s not too hot on using Twitter anywhere. So we asked some serious travelers—who also happen to be serious tweeters—for tips on tweeting and travel. Here’s what they told us:
Share news that will empower other travelers—say, a timely vacation deal or road-warrior trick.
Location! Don’t just tell me what you’ve found, tell me where it is, preferably with a map link. Also, please use full sentences, real spelling and proper grammar. I don’t have the patience to wade through Twitspeak.
Tweeting while traveling is the digital equivalent of pulling out a Moleskine and sketching or jotting down thoughts. Do it for yourself. As far as tweets re travel tips, always include location hashtags if you’re posting useful information.
I think Twitter can be helpful for planning a trip, seeking advice on the area you’re headed, etc., but once I’ve left home I prefer to turn off Twitter, Facebook, et al. Part of the appeal of traveling is getting rid of the familiar and that’s never going to happen if you’re plugged in all the time.
Without context, most comments—do I have to call them tweets?—just come off like a foreign version of “Standing in line at Starbucks.” If that’s all you write, who cares? But if you write “In line at Starbucks in Osaka. So quiet. Unlike at home, baristas here don’t shout names when orders are up. I think I like this better,” you’re adding something that transcends the limits of the medium.
Build relationships with people who have passion for travel through interesting/interested conversation, add valuable links about travel (content, pictures, videos) and retweet the best. The keys are relationships and adding value.
Pithy, fun, surprising, with a link for more info.
I hate the “here’s-what-I’m-doing-every-second” type of tweets, so on the road I upload occasional pics that reveal a sense of place.
Pick your spots, please. I’m happy to read just a few great tweets a day—ones that entertain me or reveal something specific and interesting about where you are. I don’t like being overloaded with the minutia of a trip or excessive calls for where you should go to eat your meals.
Beyond that, put me on the @davidfarley plan. I like seeing the occasional twitpic that reveals a sense of place. I don’t tweet much from the road, but when I do I often take a photo or two.
Find out if the place you are visiting has a twisitorcenter and learn what the community twitter id or hashtags are. Use them to ask questions or seek advice prior to traveling and when visiting.
I’ve used twitter to get responses from travel agents to book flights less expensively than I was able to find on my own. Many agencies are tracking keywords and will offer advice. Be sure to include travel details (preferred times, dates, destination etc.).
The tweets that I like best point me to odd and wonderful travel stories; they can be links, snapshots in TwitPic, or 140 character stories about place. Good tweeting can also connect you with locals. For example, I might tweet “Where can I get decent espresso in Austin, Texas?” The best possible answer? A link to the primo java joint in town and maybe, “Need more local advice, I can meet you there at 330pm. Let me know, happy to help!”
Effective travel tweets are like evocative travel writing: Specific. Direct. And they should point to something larger than one’s self.
When I’m on the road I like to send tweets asking for restaurant recommendations. I also follow airlines like Southwest and Jetblue, and search engines like China’s Ctrip for travel deals and news.
A great travel tweet invokes the sensuality, texture and atmosphere of a place without being too self-referential.
I’ve been following loads of museums—big and small—for an upcoming Flyover America post about museums that post on Twitter. It’s convinced me to make following museums part of my travel planning in the future. It’s a great way to get information about exhibits, lectures, and free events delivered right to your electronic device of choice.
A good travel tweet keeps a really tight focus—they’re so short, it’s hard to sum up your big-picture impressions or feelings about a place. Better to choose one telling/quirky/evocative detail for each tweet.
My one bit of advice would be to tweet about where you’re going before you go. Half the fun of travel is meeting people, and I’ve ended up unexpectedly meeting lots of people simply because I tweeted something like, “Hey, I’m gonna be in Dayton, Ohio (or wherever) around this time frame. Wanna have a tweet-up?”
Twitter when traveling should be used in the spirit of the site’s origin: sparingly. Ideally, Twitter can be a tool to quickly source logistical information or recommendations, or better yet, add a quick observation or comment that doesn’t warrant its own blog post or postcard.
Use Twitpic. Followers like to see photos of the places you are talking about—great pics can inspire future travel.
Also, I’ve found that sharing resources get the most retweets and in the end are the most helpful. A resource can be a link—but it can also be a suggestion, as in the book you’re reading or your current favorite iPhone app.
Travel tweets should be about your experience in a place—a window into what you are feeling or seeing. Pithiness is appreciated. Generalizations about BO are not. I just tweeted and traveled while I was in Buenos Aires, and guess what: you miss a lot less sending a few text messages over the course of the day than you do spending the morning writing a blog post about your trip.
I like travel tweets that post something I might not have seen, along with a comment or thought that shows the poster read it. Not just ‘Top Hotels’ links, but worldwide blogs/stories that affect travel too. Also, I think we all should try to obey the ‘3:1’ rule: three RTs/comments/links per every ‘hey look what I just wrote HERE’ (which in moderation is useful too).
Make Twitter work for you. The possibilities include getting suggestions on where to go/what to see/where to stay, finding locals or other travelers to meet up with, sending missives into the ether so your friends & family know you survived that pub crawl through Rome, keeping a mini-travel journal to refer back to later. Twitter is malleable enough that most people can find a way to make it useful to them.
And y’know what? If you try it and find that you just don’t get understand the appeal, don’t see how it can make your travel experience any richer or easier, then don’t use it. It’s one tool, not the tool.
To me, the finest Tweets are not just reports on what you’re doing, but 140 characters of creative writing/thinking. I get annoyed when people Tweet nonevents like, “Going back to my hotel now.” That’s just clutter.
I’m on my first Tweeting trip, but I’m trying to communicate the essence of the road trip (and that includes the gummi bear moments—it’s not a road trip without unhealthy snacks) and provide ideas for other travelers. I don’t know yet if I’m doing a good job or even how I would know. I don’t think I’ve been unfollowed, which is a good sign.
Like a travel story, tell us something new and fresh. Even if it’s just 140 characters, there should be an “angle.” And try not to use the word awesome—yes, the Pyramids are awesome, and so is the Grand Canyon. But we already knew that.
One useful way to use it is to send out a tweet during high tourist season events (like the cherry blossom festival in Washington D.C.) asking where the crowds are, and where they aren’t, so you can plan strategy.
I usually always click on Twitpics from the travel folks I follow. The saying, “Every picture tells a story” still holds true.Take a picture, upload to Twitter from your phone and write a brief, descriptive caption.
Best travel tweets engage the follower. Want to join me for dinner with Tim Cahill? Much more interesting than; New Blog Post: URL.
Don’t complain too much in your tweets, especially if you’re off in some great place. I hate too many whiny tweets from globe-trotting tweeps, especially if I’m at my desk!
*Got more tips? Please post them below.
* Note: We’ve edited these tips for brevity and to avoid repetition— individual style and spelling has been retained.