By now you may be familiar with sites like Couchsurfing, AirBnB, Global Freeloaders, and Hospitality Club. Those of you who are more aggressive social media users also probably leverage Facebook on a daily basis to help organize and socialize your life. When finding a restaurant our generation often fires off a tweet, pulls up Yelp, or posts a quick Facebook status inquiry. Most of us have read The Four Hour Work Week and books like Never Eat Alone. We understand and appreciate the value of our social network and regularly interact with our friends and contacts on a local level.
Yet, when it comes time to travel, we often set all of this knowledge aside and revert to making the same basic mistakes. We often have travel questions or needs, and would love opportunities to connect socially with long distance contacts. As we prepare for our trips we talk and post about them in general terms but, almost never make active inquiries.
If you were looking for a job, you’d leverage your social network. If you needed a new roommate you’d reach out to your social media contacts. If you had a nagging question you couldn’t find an answer for, they’d be your logical ‘go to’. So why not make similar inquiries when preparing for a trip?
A plethora of recent startups revolve around connecting us socially with people nearby. From Foursquare to Facebook check-ins, it has never been easier to keep in touch once you’re at a destination. These do little, however, to prepare for the trip to that destination.
So, before you take your next trip, don’t just tell your Facebook and Twitter friends that you’ll be visiting a destination. Ask them who lives there, who can host you, who is free to show you around, meet for coffee, and perhaps even introduce you to other near-by must see places. It doesn’t matter if it’s a place you’ve never been to before or a place you’ve visited 100 times. You have an amazing resource at your finger tips. Use it! I guarantee you’ll be surprised by the power of your network. And above all, don’t be afraid to act on the introductions your friends and contacts offer to make. It’s one of the best ways to enrich and enhance your travel – and who knows, it might even save you a small fortune in travel costs.
Still need a conventional resource? Head on over to Amazon and snag a Lonely Planet Guide for your destination.