I live my life in social media, so when I’m off duty and traveling I go through the same argument in my head.
How much should I share?
There’s the school of thought that says, don’t brag about your vacations on social. You know the cliche – bare feet on the sand on Instagram.
But then, I have people tell me how much they enjoy my photos and how they feel like they’ve been on vacation with me. After years of traveling and arguably, oversharing, I’m now getting genuine requests for things my friends want to see. Under my initial post on a recent trip to Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, I received the following request:
On this trip, I’d like to go to the Concentration Camps, see where the Berlin Wall used to be… And any other cool places you find along the way! Thanks! – Lisa
So yes, I obliged with photos from Dachau Concentration Camp, a section of the Berlin Wall and a sunlit trip to the Alps and Austria.
After years of traveling and sharing, here’s what I’ve learned about social media and travel.
This is my most used platform when I travel. It’s easy to get carried away and post all day about the exciting things you’re seeing, but I find it best to use my time at the end of the day, and the hotel wifi (when abroad I don’t pay for an international service) to reflect on what I what I want to share, then post an album of the day’s photos with a detailed explanation of what I learned along the way. The fact that I don’t have international service is deliberate, in that I don’t want to have my face in my phone all day. Instead, I want to absorb what I’m experiencing, and then reflect in the hotel over a glass of wine about the day’s events. I use these posts on Facebook as a journal and it’s fun when Facebook, years later, shows me “this day four years ago” in my feed.
If you do have an international service plan you could also do the following:
Go live – stream whatever you are seeing and hearing directly into your friends’ feeds. That wonderful aria in Florence, Italy. Broadcast it. My son and I came upon this in 2016 while strolling the streets of Florence. I have no words.
Use events – if you have free time, use Facebook events to find local art, sports and music events. You might even snag tickets to that jazz event you’ve been looking for in New Orleans. Trust me, you don’t want to miss that.
Use Facebook groups – if you’re traveling in a group like I do, create a Facebook group to share logistics details and make suggestions. It’s like a message board, and it’s a great way to stay organized. After the trip, use the group to share thoughts and photos of your experiences.
With the multitude of filters, Instagram is a foolproof way to showcase your travel photos. Keep in mind that the audience on Instagram isn’t as tolerant of multiple posts per day, so try to keep your posts to one or two a day at the most. Be generous with your hashtags though. Using up to 30 will allow your photos to be exposed to people outside your following circle and you may just discover some new experts along the way. The most underused feature is the search option. For example, type “Rothenberg” in the search window and you’ll see all the photos, most popular and most recent, posted in the results. Using this feature I discovered we could walk on the wall in Rothenberg, something I would not have known if it weren’t for the app. And away we went….
If Facebook is your friend circle, Twitter is the world. Depending on what type of audience you’ve assembled here, feel free to post with abandon. But don’t get so caught up in sharing that you forget the other uses. You might find last-minute deals on flash sales by using specific destinations, keywords or hashtags like #traveldeals. Following experts like The Points Guy (@thepointsguy) will help you learn to maximize your awards points.
Twitter is also great for customer service for airline snafus, hotel mixups etc. When my son and I were delayed 14 hours on a recent trip to Denver, Colorado (Frontier, cough, Frontier) you can bet I took to Twitter about it. We made it, but not without a lot of inconveniences.
Hint: many social media managers are more empowered than their phone counterparts, not always, but it’s worth trying your luck. I received a $300 voucher for complaining on Twitter.
Perhaps Yahoo’s last and only product worth mentioning here, Flickr gives you one Terabyte of free storage. I use Flickr to upload my best photos after I return home. You can choose the type of copyright you wish to give and allow full use or restrict. It’s up to you. Personally, I find it fun to know someone used one of my photos in a blog etc.
UPDATE: With the purchase of Flickr by Smugmug, Flickr is ending its free 1Terabyte of storage and instead, limiting users on the free version to 1000 photos. Starting February 5, 2019 Flickr will begin deleting photos. Learn more about this change here.
Use hashtags as a universal way of finding what you need. Like Hansel and Gretel in the Black Forest in Germany, use them to find your way to whatever is interesting or useful to you. I use #traveltuesday, #lovetravel or #visit(nameofcountry) to find interesting and relevant information. I also use those when posting to Instagram to widen my reach and expose my audience to what I learned.
As an Android user I can’t say enough about this app. Without my doing anything, Google photos uploaded everything from my recent trip to Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, made an album, inserted maps and organized the photos chronologically. All I had to do was share the album. It also allowed me to collaborate with my son Johnathan, who accompanied me on the trip.
So use social media to enhance your trip, but be sure to look up from your phones and enjoy what you’re experiencing! I know you want to catch that Mr. Mime on Pokemon, but there’s a world out there!
Social media and travel go together, and not just for those photos of feet in the sand.
Do you have a social media travel tip? Let me know in the comments?