The Social Travel Trend: Are you a social traveller?
When I started traveling in 97 I would take time out every week to lie on the beach or in a hammock and write postcards.
Wads of them.
I would squish an entire months of adventures in and hope my family and friends could connect to the fun I was having through my words and the picture on the front that I never took.
I would make that phone call home once every couple of weeks, using a payphone card and a crackling connection.
The Lonely Planet was my bible helping me get from jungle to jungle in Sumatra and showing me where I could eat and sleep.
I had to rely on the intrepid author’s ability to understand my needs and desires, even though they had no idea who I was.
The best places we ever found to stay were those small guesthouses run by local families who would sit and chat with you of an evening. It was the best way for us to stay connected and learn from the local culture.
And then of course along the way were the recommendations that came from friends and the stories they shared that inspired me to try that new destination or that cool activity – like Mama Hahn’s boat trip in Vietnam.
The new social travel
Times have changed a lot now with travel planning and decision-making and staying connected.
We no longer have to wait by the side of the mailbox for an update to come two weeks late; we get it in an instant via twitter and Facebook and with pictures of our own smiling faces lying on the beach.
We create our own postcards of our trip on Pinterest and we can use apps to help us find places to eat, how to get around and where to stay.
We also have instant access to up-to-date information – a lot of the time coming from those we really like and trust.
Not a guide-book writer who doesn’t understand that museums bore me to tears and I’m happy to wander down village side streets to find that special hole in the wall that only locals know about.
I can find those people who know through my social channels – blogs, twitter, travel groups and forums, and of course Facebook.
How we receive our information now through media channels is very similar to how I would often receive it when I was travelling, through the mouths of others following a similar path that get me.
The new form of social travel is bringing us closer; it’s helping to make our experiences more unique and tailor-made to what we love. There’s less risk in wasting our time and money going to a place we want to leave immediately after arrival.
And sometimes this can form a part of travel joy. Getting lost, figuring it out for yourself and using expert guide writers to help you. I don’t think we should ever end these options in our travel lives, nor do I think we should become too involved in the life of our Facebook and social communities to not pay attention to the world we are actually travelling in.
Making authentic travel connections
We need to make the connections, have a little fun and then shut down to have the real fun with real people in the real world.
Some of my best experiences travelling were when we stayed in the village with Masai warriors and Hill Tribe people. These we organized ourselves through tours etc, but now travellers can do it just by joining groups of like-minded people on-line.
With the latest social trend of apartment rentals you can even skip staying in impersonal hotels. In almost any major city around the world, locals are willing to rent out their apartments to strangers which is helping travellers, not only have a cheaper experience but a more authentic local experience.
The thing that makes me feel all warm and giddy inside.
The social travel trend
Social travel, they are calling it the trend of 2012. They sure had me at social!
To explain the success of social travel Wimdu have created the following infographic.
Pretty cool huh? Feel free to pin it and share it.
Even though I started traveling when the world wasn’t considered “social” I always had the spirit of a social traveller and you can be sure I was not eating in McDonald’s, refusing to speak in the local language, or wearing tight speedos. And neither was Craig for that matter!!
Although the whole starting to drink at 9am thing — I have been guilty before of going to bed at that time after a night of drinking, but I don’t think I was speaking loudly or being obnoxious.
I definitely have and always will be a traveller who knows how to get more bang for my buck when travelling.
I certainly would never arrive in Asia and just eat Western food. I love getting lost and when in Africa Hakuna matata is what I’m all about. In Thailand it’s all Mai pen lai for me, Denada in Spain and No Worries in the good old land Down Under.