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

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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:

@wendyperrin

Share news that will empower other travelers—say, a timely vacation deal or road-warrior trick.

@frugaltraveler

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.

@MissExpatria

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.

@luxagraf

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.

@evanrail

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.

@soultravelers3

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.

@marilyn_res

Pithy, fun, surprising, with a link for more info.

@davidfarley

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.

@myessis

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.

@toddlucier

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.).

@nerdseyeview

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!”

@newley

Effective travel tweets are like evocative travel writing: Specific. Direct. And they should point to something larger than one’s self.

@dianakuan

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.

@joannakakissis

A great travel tweet invokes the sensuality, texture and atmosphere of a place without being too self-referential.

@JennaSchnuer

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.

@evaholland

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.

@SheilaS

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?”

@thenotoriousmeg

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. 

@jenleo

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.

@alexanderbasek

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.

@reidontravel

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).

@italylogue

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.

@SophiaDembling

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.

@Lbleiberg

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.

@julia914

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. 

@Nancydbrown

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.

@jbenning

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.


@worldhum is the voice of World Hum on Twitter, originating from @jimbenning, @myessis, @vmconners and @evaholland.


30 Comments for Twitter Tips from 25 Tweeting Travelers

Miss Expatria 04.10.09 | 1:11 PM ET

Love the advice from everybody.  (And sorry I complained about schlepping wet laundry back and forth today!)

Drew Sorrell 04.10.09 | 1:34 PM ET

I think @jbenning’s is the best and I’ll make sure to remember it.  no one sitting at work wants to hear you complain about anything you’re doing out on the road.  I’m out here and they aren’t so I’ve really got nothing to complain about.

soultravelers3 04.10.09 | 1:40 PM ET

This is fun…what a great collection! Thanks for including @soultravelers3!

I think it proves that Twitter is really a different experience for each person and it can be used in so many different ways which is part of what makes it such a great tool. I know it is much different for me now ( having been on it over a year with around 10,000 followers)  than it was in my first few months with less than a few hundred followers.


I think it is important to give Twitter time before making assumptions and try different techniques. One can also learn much from just listening to the best twitterers on Twitter. Different folks have different needs, so will tweet differently and want different things from their followers or conversations. They say their are no rules for Twitter and I like that freedom and am often delighted with ways people make up.


I think one of the great ways to evaluate how well you are tweeting is how many of your tweets are retweeted. If lots of people are retweeting your content, you know you are on the right track and reaching a lot more people. All of the grading services about Twitter help give feedback on just how useful you are and how to improve.

It is not usually the best written tweet that gets retweeted, but the ones that have the most VALUE ( usually with a link) and appeal to more people as something worth passing on. Often they will be filled with Twitspeak because it is a fabulous way to get more information in.

Our needs as a digital nomadic family on an open ended world tour will be much different than someone who is on a vacation or doing business travel.  We don’t own an iphone or blackberry, so it is easy to separate our travel time from online time and we are often totally unplugged.  We are tickled pink that we just won Lonely Planet’s Travel Award for Best Microblogging for our Twitter account ( and another for our blog)!

I am not going to be able to give the best fare deals unless I retweet a travel pro, but then they can not share our unique content. So each has a place and by retweeting the valuable links,  everyone can make it a win/win for all.

It is exciting that so many travel writers and others with passion for travel have recently found Twitter! I love how the community is growing on Twitter and how that can only help travel.  Did you know that now we have #traveltuesday as our special day to dream about and promote Twitter? Hashtags like that on Tuesday or #travel and #tbex etc are also ways to get more people to see your tweets.

I love Tweeting Travelers!

TambourineMan 04.10.09 | 1:45 PM ET

@TambourineMan
Non tweeter here. I waste people’s time (not to mention my own) with old school e-mails. However, if I were to enter the tweet-o-sphere, I think I’d be on the picture plan with @davidfarley, @myessis and @nancybrown.

soultravelers3 04.10.09 | 1:53 PM ET

Oops, I meant, promote travel, not promote Twitter. This past Tuesday was the first #traveltuesday on Twitter ( kind of a take off on #followfriday or musicmonday). Everyone really enjoyed it, but I am hoping we can start trending on Tuesday if more people were active.

A trending hashtag can get more people from Twitter to come look to see what it’s all about and gets more people to participate.

Everyone loves travel and it is an uplifting focus, especially during these times where many feel like they are being forced to be armchair travelers.

Jeanine Barone 04.10.09 | 2:10 PM ET

@JCreatureTravel

A good travel tweet should provide insights into the curious, the unexpected or something of a timely nature. I love to tweet about new hotels, restaurants or wine bars I’ve found as well as more off-the-beaten-track locales or anything off the radar that’s cool.

Jorge Ferrari 04.10.09 | 2:18 PM ET

@HostelColonial says: Good post. I love Tweeting Travelers!

Jim Benning 04.10.09 | 2:37 PM ET

Glad you’re all finding these useful. And no worries about the laundry tweet, Miss Expatria. I forgive you.

Rizzo Tees 04.10.09 | 3:10 PM ET

@ToscanaMia takes care of peeps in Tuscany - cooking school!

Nancy D. Brown 04.10.09 | 3:10 PM ET

Nice article, Jim. I was trying to explain Twitter to my husband and he simply laughs at me!

There should be a warning label on twitter like they have on cigarette packages:
Warning: Twitter is addicting. Do not Twitter while on deadline. Do not Twitter while driving.

@Nancydbrown

Nerdizen 04.10.09 | 3:19 PM ET

I concur with many of your that Twitter makes it easy to express yourself when you’re in a place that isn’t familiar to you and the opportunities to discover and share are boundless.

Kim@Galavanting 04.10.09 | 5:12 PM ET

I like sending out TwitPics while I’m out galavanting. That’s what I like to see when others are out…and a pictures worth a whole bunch of words, apparently.

@KimMance

Evelyn Hannon 04.10.09 | 5:32 PM ET

Thanks for the excellent food for thought, everybody. Great listing! My advice would be to let your unique personality shine through each of your tweets. Develop that online persona, write about what you know best, be selective in your retweets and and learn from those who know better what Twitter is all about..

Evelyn Hannon 04.10.09 | 5:33 PM ET

Opps, I forgot the most important thing! @journeywoman

Thandelike 04.11.09 | 6:59 AM ET

my favorite travel tweeters are people who share not only where they are, what’s happening, why they’re there, but also who they are and what they’re looking for in the experience. a good example of this is @skinnylatte, a singaporean writer/photog bouncing between the UAE and SEAsia, tweeting all the way about her big life questions as well as the camel races in Abu Dhabi and the redshirt demonstrations in Bangkok.

also check out @everywheretrip, who’s been on the road for 2 years and uses twitter brilliantly to drive traffic to his blog, but also to engage with people everywhere about what’s happening where he is at the moment (Holy Week=Jerusalem)

as an American expat in Turkey, just being abroad falls into some people’s travel category but I am also a travel writer and try to share cultural happenings and my local observations to events both here in Istanbul and elsewhere in the world.

@Thandelike

p.s. as one tweeter in china says, “think global, tweet local”. travel writers have a lot to share with the twitterverse, and twitter can be an integrated communications tool of greater power and less distraction than many of the other digital options.

soultravelers3 04.11.09 | 10:26 AM ET

One more important point that I think many miss, including those who twitter about travel, is taking the advice of some of the wisest people on Twitter like @guykawasaki, @scobelizer and @chrisbrogan, about following back.

I think its arrogant,” Kawasaki said, if you think you are worth following but dont think the people following you are worth following.

Just think about that wise statement!

When one is new to Twitter, often people do not get this ( nor did I), but with time, it soon becomes obvious as a big part of the value of twitter takes place in the direct messages. Important conversations and maintaining relationships can happen in that back channel as it is often much quicker and easier than email and allows one access to thought leaders.

I became a big fan of Guy Kawasaki, not only by his important work, but also because we have had many dm conversations. He walks his talk and was conversing with me when I had few followers and he had thousands.

One of the best ways to get unfollowed or just not followed to begin with is to be a person who does not follow back. Twitter is about connecting and some call it web 3.0 and post media.

I rarely follow anyone who hardly follows anyone and doesn’t follow me back, even if they have a ton of followers and have great tweets. I don’t want to be a follower, nor do most people, we want to be equals in the conversation.

You might never know who is out there who can help you, if you miss the opportunity to follow them back!

Wil from Spot Cool Stuff 04.11.09 | 11:48 AM ET

Can I second everything soultravelers3 said? Some people use Twitter as a broadcast media (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but learning from others, interacting and building relationships is the true genius of the service.


@SpotCoolStuff

jessie voigts 04.11.09 | 5:58 PM ET

@jessiev, @WanderingEds - great comments - i LOVE reading travel tweets, but yes, not complaining ones. i love to learn, and discover new things. thanks!

boldlygosolo 04.12.09 | 1:41 PM ET

I agree with soultravelers3 that “Twitter is really a different experience for each person and it can be used in so many different ways…”

When I was in Egypt the first two weeks of February, I used twitter during down times to record observations and let family and friends in on my experiences.
Who knew that nice hotels had metal detectors? Or that they’ve Disney-fied the Karnak Temple with a sound and light show? Or how thrilled Egyptians were with Obama? Or why Egyptians mummified people and animals?
I put a Twitter widget (say that three times fast) on my blog so people who weren’t using Twitter could also read bits and pieces about Egypt.
Just now, I went back to Twitter see if those tweets are still there two months later, and thankfully, they are. (February 2 - 15 if you’re interesed.) Now it’s time to cut and paste and save those. Another use for Twitter - a diary!

On Twitter, some people like description. Others want links with more information. Others want to put out queries and receive information. All these uses are legitimate and you’ll never please everyone with what you choose. So use it how it pleases you. Some portion of the readers out there will enjoy your tweets and follow along.

Miah Oren 04.12.09 | 10:05 PM ET

Thanks so much everyone for this great advice.  I’m new to twitter and really appreciate all of your advice.  I’m following all of you :)

@miahoren

Doug Caldwell 04.13.09 | 4:36 PM ET

The photo alone for this blog gets a stumble!upon thumbs up and RT from me.  But the traveler tips helps the blog as well. Well done.

Lindsey 04.14.09 | 1:13 PM ET

The photo was great! Never really got into twitter myself. Took a long time for my friends to knock me into the facebook world. Anyone ever realized how many social networks there are on the internet theses days????? There’s tons!

Melisa 04.15.09 | 6:45 AM ET

That’s a great advice for every body many thanks!!

Greg Lawrence 04.17.09 | 4:10 PM ET

I started travelling when there were virtually no guidebooks and Lonely Planet was just in their final edit for their 1st book, hey I’m not that old!

When at each stop over,overland New Zealand to Europe late ‘70s, I sat around in a basic cafe exchanging tips with other travellers who had come through where I was going.  Where we arranged to meet up again,perhaps, in a geographic area on loose travel dates, where Poste Restrante was the only way to get news from home or friends.

I love twitter for fresh,up to date, information on an area I will be in or going to.  Like most things everybody has their own personal preferences so you have to sift but it’s greast for a “Heads Up” on the good and the bad.

Good Travelling
@woywegian

Lara Dunston 04.19.09 | 7:26 AM ET

What a great list of tweepers and fab tweeping advice! Love @wendyperrin’s words of wisdom but the poor old @frugaltraveler is not going to get as many gems as he’d like if he requires people to write ‘proper’ sentences: best have people write a letter instead. 

I hope - like the Twitchhiker’s round-the-world-by-twitter experiment and Benji Lanyado’s Paris Twi-Trip at The Guardian - this advice opens up the possibilities of Twitter to travellers who haven’t tried it yet. I’ve been posting a bit on Twitter too but I think Vicky Baker is the one who writes most insightfully on Twitter at goinglocaltravel.blogspot.com. A must-read!

Still, travellers shouldn’t feel compelled to use Twitter or stick with it if it’s simply not doing it for them. As I find myself saying to the increasing number of Western journalists, bloggers and expats bagging Dubai recently (many who’ve never been there, haven’t spent more than 3 days in the place, or have possibly been there too long!): “Don’t knock it until you’ve really experienced it. Then if you don’t like it, leave.”

I don’t have anywhere near the amount of time I’d love to have to spend on Twitter, but I’m sticking around all the same. I don’t see it as simply another ‘tool’, but (and I know this is not original) it’s a way to have a conversation with the world. How can you beat that?

Lara
@laradunston
cooltravelguide.blogspot.com

Saben and Lin 04.20.09 | 2:14 PM ET

We love twitter and are very happy it has exploded in the travel realm.

@sabenandlin

chuck 04.24.09 | 12:18 PM ET

Personally I use vacations to get away from the net. When I was in Spain I hardly ever looked at the notebook pc my aunt had setup. I just wasn’t in the mood. But that’s how I use a vacation.

Orlando 04.28.09 | 2:57 AM ET

One person to follow on Twitter is @BstTwt. Updated daily, the selection can also be found as Best Tweets - “the Museum for the Art of Micro-Elegance”  - http://www.besttweets.com .

Although the tweets are not travel-specific, they include a lot of wordly-wise wit. Politically correct, not always, as in this recent swine flu related tweet:

@obxlaw : Italian citizen found to have prosciutto flu.

(address for follow: http://twitter.com/BstTwt )

Otilia 04.28.09 | 8:08 PM ET

Thanks. Great advice. Love tweeting about my favorite place on Earth, Nantucket Island - thirty miles out to sea!

Century House, Nantucket Island
@chnantucket
http://www.centuryhouse.com

Tammie Dooley 05.18.09 | 2:54 PM ET

I’ve been tweeting for a few months but was struck by a recommendation in this article that a tweet should ADD something to your followers day.  I too dislike tweeting about mundane bits and pieces of my everyday life, choosing instead to pass on what I feel is useful or entertaining tidbits about, well, whatever. I’m a travel writer, but I tweet about any and all. It’s the one tool that I can use and not have to worry about sticking to a certain theme. Great article.

@thesolowriter
http://www.soloroadtrip.com

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