Social Media – Changing the way we travel

by williamsimmons

I recently came back from an amazing trip to the USA.

It was the first time I didn’t use Tripadvisor or a Lonelyplanet-esque guide to decide where and what to do and yet I felt like I immersed myself in the “real” New York and San Francisco experience, not the Intrepid or Lonely Planet experience that most people have.

Foursquare – Drinking like a Local

Without a doubt many people reading this blog are users or have used location based services such as foursquare, Gowalla or Facebook places. Before this trip, I was a foursquare user but I wouldn’t of called myself a massive fan, more so an expirement to understand where this sort of technology was going. Whilst there was some benefit (a tip here or there) it wasn’t really changing my life.

Enter NYC, the home of Foursquare. It was littered with tips and swarms of people everywhere. It was easy to understand where people were, what to order or places that were plain dodgy. To add to this, the latest release of foursquare (3.0) had a new recommendation engine (called explore) that overlaid both my friends and foursquare data to enhance the experience.

And then we hit Austin, TX for SXSW 2011, it was like Foursquare was on steroids.

Finding where the happening parties were each night was as simple as logging into foursquare and looking for venues that were trending, with awesome results.

foursquare 3.0

Yelp – Eating Like a Local

Yelp, an app that recommended places to eat (that isn’t yet in Australia) found all the places to eat around me, showed me all the reviews and gave me a really good way of seeing what I was going to eat. Apart from visual appeal, this service also provided timely, crowd sourced information. This meant that I was reading reviews from last week, not last year:

Yelp on the iPad

AirBnB – Living like a local
Using a service called airbnb, we were able to stay in an apartment in NYC amongst the locals. This meant our accommodation wasn’t the usual sterile hotel environment situated in the tourist area, it was an awesome NYC apartment on the 2nd floor of a Meatpacking District apartment block at a very reasonable price.

And even better, some airbnb accommodation allows you to stay with locals in their home (something I’m definitely keen to try next time). Here’s a quick video that tells you more about how airbnb works: