How to use popular social apps to connect with real people and locals for travel tips

6:24 AM

How to use popular social apps to quickly connect with real people and locals for travel tips

Remember the last time you were caught in a tourist trap?
The last time I was caught in a tourist trap, was in Venice Italy with my wife. She was hungry and we were looking for a local authentic and affordable place to grab something to eat. It was back in the days were smart phones weren't so common and data plans with roaming would have left you stone broke... so eventually we found ourselves eating a lousy pasta in Venice! Just a few hours later while I was looking for toilets, I entered a stylish local bar with really cool atmosphere but that was too late for us...
Thanks god, today we have technology that can help us find all of these great places while we are planning our trip and while we are on the move.
If you want to avoid tourist traps while you are travelling, here are some tips that can surely upgrade your next vacation.

Trip planning
When it comes to planning a trip there are two types of people:
The ones who love to plan in advance, who wants to feel the trip atmosphere while they are still at home and make the entire experience last longer.

And there are the “lazy” ones, who don't like to invest too much time in researching in advance. The good news for them is that today, there are ways to use the social platforms to get quick answers from real (some are even local) people.

Let me try recommend the best 6 apps for the later type, the “lazy” ones, like myself :) and how you can use these apps to connect with real/ local people.

Before we start: make sure to be mobile enabled when you arriving at your travel destination:
·         Bring your smartphone or tablet with you.
·         Stay in places that can give you internet access.
·         Ask your wireless-carrier for a data plan in advance, or get yourself a local sim with data plan once you arrive at your destination. Usually the second option is the cheapest one.
Now hook up with the applications that will help you travel like a local and avoid tourist traps without having to invest too much time in advanced research.

1. WhatsApp
If you are using WhatsApp, you are probably a member of a few groups, so you have a legitimate reason to spam everyone with questions about great places in the destination
you are heading to :) Just bear in mind that WhatsApp is about peer 2 peer real-time communication, so you might find yourself having to answer lots of responses, what can be time consuming and exhausting especially if you are already @ your destination and don't have a lot of time nor desire to sink yourself with small talks.

2. Facebook
Facebook is a truly interactive platform and what's really cool about it when it comes to planning a trip is that you can get real time answers from your closest friends and family who are people you know and trust. When you come to think about it the day to day usage in the platform is to post thoughts, ideas, statuses, get feedbacks from friends and vice versa but posting a question on your facebook wall will also help you to get real time answers. You simply thank one with a like and you're done :) Wanna get more info from a particular person? just contact him in a private message and spare the spam from the rest of your friends.

3. Twitter
Search for hashtags (#) of the things you would like to find and get amazing information. For example: type “#Coffee #Portland” and you will get a list of tweets posted by others with matching keywords. Now you can connect with these guys that posted the tweets by asking them questions and request for recommendations. What I really like about this option is that you can check their profile and timeline to see if you like them and the way they think. Some may say this option is a bit spooky, but based on my own experience, not only that it works, but it also enables you to connect with locals that were complete strangers just a few minutes earlier!

4. TripAdvisor
I always considered TripAdvisor as a directory of hotels with ratings based on crowdsourcing, but lately I found TripAdvisor’s forums as a great source of information, where you can ask questions and get immediate answers from loyal locals. It is truly amazing to see how quick you can get an answer and how much passion the participants of the forum have for their local domain.

5. Yelp
Instead of searching and filtering for the best restaurants, you can use the Yelp “Talk” feature to ask questions from local Yelpers. For example: “Where can I find a bar with local atmosphere on Monday evening?” This is very similar to the help you can find on TripAdvisor’s forums.
The only question I keep asking myself regarding these forums is: “who are these guys that are following these forums and keep jumping ahead with responses?” Anyway it is good to know that  they are there for us. Hopefully Yelp & TripAdvisor will soon have decent profile pages for their forum participants that will enable us to know who are these guys, what are they into and whether we share similar interests with them.

7. Foursquare
Foursquare is a great directory application for any place around. I just wish I had the option to communicate with locals who posted tips through the application … urgh!!!  

But if you are really lazy and can’t even use the above simple advice, but still don’t won’t to fall into tourists traps, at least try to follow this one rule I learned from Nomadic Matt, one of my favorites travel bloggers:
“Don't go to places where there are lots of tourists.”

Good Luck! 

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