Fly With a Little Help From Your Friends: Social Travel Planning

by Ben Edwards on 4 October 2011 3 comments
Photo: star5112

A few years ago, my wife and I went to San Francisco for a week for a conference. We didn't know much about the city, and neither one of us had much time to research the area before we went.

At the last minute, we remembered her cousin had lived in San Francisco for a few years, so we shot him an email asking for recommendations. Luckily, he responded with a list of about 20 must-do things while we were visiting the city, doing most of our planning for us. We went down the list and had an amazing time in San Francisco.

Planning ahead for travel goes a long way towards making a vacation successful. It seems kind of strange that you have to work in order to have fun, but it definitely makes a difference. Planning ahead can:

  • Save time — you don't end up waiting an hour or two for something
  • Save money — you can buy ahead of time at a discount
  • Grant access — planning can be the difference between whether you get tickets or not

Not to mention that you've paid to travel there (airline tickets or gas) and taken time off work. So it makes sense to maximize your investment in your vacation by planning ahead. (See also: How to Start Planning for Holiday Travel, via Currency)

The trouble is, many of us don’t make the time to hit the travel sites and plan out the trip, or we don’t have access to good information about where we’re going. But nowadays, you can rely on a virtual network to help give you travel advice and do your trip planning. Below are a few websites that make it easier for you to plan for vacation.

Gogobot

Gogobot is a social travel website that lets you ask questions about the best places to visit and stay during your trip. You can use Gogobot to pose a question to your Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and Gogobot network. Then they can answer with recommendations on everything from hotels to restaurants to tourist attractions.

For example, a recent question on the site was “What’s the best vegetarian restaurant in San Francisco?” If you don’t have any specific questions to ask, you can also visit the “Things To Do” section for a city and see pictures of places other people have visited and their reviews. If we were headed to San Francisco for the first time again, we wouldn’t have to rely on friends or family in the city for advice; now we could just checkout the city page on Gogobot.

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Gtrot

Gtrot is similar in some ways to Gogobot, but it is different enough that you should check it out as well. It also uses your social network to help you plan your trip. The website suggests the best things where you’re going based on your likes, friends check-ins, and events happening during your trip.

Something else that Gtrot will do is to discover any deals in the places you’re going for the time you’ll be there. For example, if there’s a Groupon for a restaurant that your friends like, Gtrot will let you know it’s available and that you might want to check it out.

MyTab

After planning your trip with Gogobot and Gtrot, you could use the site MyTab to raise money to pay for your vacation. If you have a trip planned but don’t have the funds to cover it, MyTab lets you ask your social network for contributions to your travels.

For example, if your birthday was coming up and you had a place you really wanted to visit, you could suggest that people give money to your travel fund as birthday gifts. Any friends or family who wanted to contribute would use PayPal through MyTab to send you some money you could use towards an airplane ticket or hotel room. MyTab isn’t just limited to individual users; it has also become popular as a way for raising money for group trips.

I’m sure there are other sites that can help you tap into the experiences of others to plan your trip. Which ones did I miss?

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Susan

Nice article. I checked out Gtrot - it doesn't look like it suggests places to go based on friends check ins. It only shows which friends live there and which friends have visited that city. Kind of nice, but not what you described.

Gogobot seems more interesting.

Guest's picture
Heddi

Hi Susan (comment) - check out myTab.co now and also Oct 19th when we've upgraded our design. Love to hear your thoughts :)

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Javier

Ben, i suggest you check on TouristEye.com, it is the easiest and most powerful travel guide for web and mobile. You have to check our gorgeous trip planner and our recommendation engine. We suggest you places and destinations based on your previous trips, your friends and the average opinion. The user interface is really well done, as said by many users, bloggers, journalists and entrepreneurs :)