Facebook For Budget Travelers
For the frequent traveler, Facebook is an excellent way to keep in touch with friends and acquaintances from around the world. Is it possible, however, that the popular social network could help budget-minded travelers save time and money when looking for cheap accommodation and transportation?
These applications could help you do just that.
Find a Couch
Of course, the best way to find a free place to stay through Facebook is to mine your pool of friends. If you don't have a connection in a particular area there are many services that connect you with generous strangers. Two applications, CouchSurf and CouchSurfing, allow you to search for and book available couches through Facebook. The advantage to this over separate, dedicated, sites like CouchSurfing.com is that you will be able to use your host's Facebook profile and network of friends as an indication of his or her disposition, interests, and so on. If you are comfortable with the Facebook platform, it could save you the trouble of becoming established on a more specific site.
Reserve a Hostel
Before couch surfing, the accommodation option of choice for budget travelers was the hostel. Scary movies aside, hostels are still great places to stay if you are on a budget, especially if you are interested in meeting like-minded travelers. Two different Facebook applications, confusingly called Hostels and Hostel, help you find hostels in your destination, evaluate your options with user reviews, book rooms, and coordinate plans with your friends. If you like booking hostels on the internet, and many travelers do, these applications help streamline the process.
Find a Ride
Once accommodation is squared away, the next concern for most travelers is transportation. There are a number of applications that help you search for airfares to visit your friends, but I don't think they are particularly useful or concerned with budget travel. More useful, in my opinion, are applications that allow you to find or offer a ride throughcarshare networks. Both Carpool, an extension of the popular Zimride, and Share My Ride can help secure cheap rides most places in the United States.
Send a Postcard
As you may know, I am a huge fan of postcards. There are many applications, including Kiwee postcards and Photo Wall, that allow you to send "postcards" to your friends for free. If you are on such a tight budget that the cost of postage is a concern, this could be a solution. However, it seems that almost all of the romance of sending a card through the mail is lost on these digital interpretations. The solution may be Hippopost, which sends a printed postcard via snail mail from your Facebook account.
Find a Travel Partner
Traveling with a friend, someone with whom you can share the excitement and hardships, can enrich any trip. Having a second person who can help split costs can also significantly reduce the cost of your trip. One application,appropriately called Trips, helps you find people interested in joining you on your next adventure. It also helps you plan, document, and share your trip. With its focus on sharing something that is important to you, Trips is likely the most social of the applications discussed here.
Facebook is one of the most popular social networks not only because of its simple interface and massive pool of users, but because of its functionality as a platform for accomplishing common tasks socially. When preparing for your next trip, trying using this platform to help save you time and money.
Let us know how it works out in the comments.