Plenty of people post their vacation pictures on Facebook or Twitter, but did you know you can use social media to find great airline fares or avoid traffic snarls? Below are some tips for using Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter to travel smarter.
Trip Inspiration and Planning
Make the most of your network by posting a question like “Where can I find the best gelato in Rome?” so your friends can chime in with their recommendations. Or, simply search a destination such as “Italy,” which will pull up the destination’s Facebook page as well as a list of your friends who have traveled there. You can browse through their vacation photos to figure out, say, what restaurants, wine bars or galleries people visited while there.
Users create and share collections (called “boards”) of bookmarks (“pins”). The platform’s “Place Pins” feature lets you see details such as addresses, phone numbers and more next to the pin image, which you can view in relation to other pins on the map. Download the free app to your mobile device and when you arrive at your destination, pull up your Pinterest map and let that serve as your itinerary.
Type a search term like “ice cream in San Francisco” and Twitter filters all posts, check-ins and photos taken from ice cream shops around the city.
Airlines employ social media managers, who are trained to address your concerns—such as being unsure of your flight status—in real time. Many airlines also dole out perks to gain loyalty. Case in point: A traveler from New York recently found himself stranded at Newark Airport after his girlfriend broke up with him, tweeted about it, and United Airlines (@United) upgraded his ticket. According to travel industry news site Skift, four of the ten fastest-responding airlines on Twitter are U.S.-based carriers, including American Airlines (average: 12 minutes), JetBlue (15 minutes), U.S. Airways (38 minutes) and Southwest (50 minutes). Most respond publicly, but consider following the airline you’re flying so that they have the ability to send you a direct message with more sensitive info, such as ticket details.
You can sometimes find giveaways and contests on Instagram. Emirates Airlines (@emirates), for example, recently held a month-long photo contest in Boston. The weekly prize? A pair of tickets to anywhere within their 135-city flight map. To get on your favorite airline’s radar, start tagging their handle in your travel-related posts.
Breaking News and Traffic Updates
Follow a traffic Twitter feed, such as @totaltrafficNYC (New York City), @WTOPtraffic (Washington D.C.) or @mndottraffic (Minneapolis/St. Paul), for updates on driving delays, accidents and detours as they happen. For information on big storms or even political strife, follow channels like @WeatherChannel, @TravelGov (the U.S. State Department’s feed) or @BBCBreaking.
To pounce on time-limited deals, consider following airlines and airfare compilers. Airfare Watchdog (@AirfareWatchdog), for example, regularly posts discounted fares as well as useful information, such as changes in carry-on policies. Airlines themselves often post Twitter-exclusive deals or trivia contests in which customers can win air miles.
- NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
- Published: August 2014