30 Mar

Twitter Travel Tips: Information Please

When we left for our trip in June2009 Twitter had been around for a little while but it hadn’t really taken off…or at least I didn’t realize the value of it at the time. Since returning I’ve learned much more about how Twitter works and how it can be used as a traveler. I’m no expert by any means but I do think that knowing how Twitter worked would have changed how we traveled. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll share what I’ve learned so that you can put it to use in your own travels!!


This is what it’s all about. The social aspects are fabulous; the connections you can make are useful and interesting; the support available is surprising; but the most useful part of Twitter is the information you can get and, when you’re traveling, it seems you can never get enough information!

Destination Information

Want to know where the best ceviche is in Lima, Peru? How about which hostel is the best for parties in Berlin? Need to know how often the buses run between Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey?

All this information is just a tweet away! You could tweet out a specific question to your followers, and ask them to retweet it, or use a #hashtag to reach a broader audience of folks who might just be in the area you’re asking about.

I did this by email while I was traveling but was limited to only being able to contact people that I knew had been to a place. With Twitter you have the ability to connect with anyonewho sees your tweet. This magnifies the power and almost guarantees that you will get an answer to your question.

Travel Information

Beyond information about a specific destination, we also had need for general travel information.

Did we need to get a visa before we hit the Turkish border or could we get on on arrival? How much would it cost? Is the border between Laos and Vietnam open at a particular crossing or should we find a different route? How are the Red Shirt protests in Bangkok affecting tourism? Are the taxis in Cusco on strike again?

Twitter allows for up-to-the-minute information to be shared in ways that email and news sources cannot. You’re connected to real people who are right there and can give the most recent accounts.

Travel Deals

We spent hours scouring the internet for deals on flights, hotels and car rentals. Many of these companies are on Twitter (and/or Facebook) and regularly tweet out deals only to Twitter followers. Following airlines, hotel chains, hostel sites etc can get you on the fast track to saving some money!

We also contacted companies directly with great results. For our birthdays I emailed the hotel we planned on staying at to let them know how excited we were to be staying at their hotel to mark our 6 month travel anniversary and to celebrate both our birthdays. The Ista Amritsar hotel went out of their way to make us comfortable.

You could do the same with Twitter. Many companies follow their own @mention and #hashtag. You could tweet out about your intentions or even make a special request. For example: Looking forward to my @GAPAdventures tour this weekend! or Can’t wait to stay at the #yvr #sheraton this evening…hoping for an upgrade . You just might make a connection and it’s connecting with real people that make the experience better.

Provide Feedback

Companies rely on more than just advertising for business and customers. There is no stronger sales method than word of mouth and savvy businesses watch their Twitter feed to see what customers are saying about them.

Good feedback is always welcome and I encourage you to use Twitter to provide positive feedback on products, services or experiences you have had. I especially like to promote small local businesses but all companies benefit from satisfied customers telling their friends.

Negative feedback should be used cautiously. On the one hand, you don’t want your tweeps to have the same bad experience you had but, on the other hand, we have to be careful of the power of our tweets. If you’ve had a bad experience with a company make sure that you try to deal with it privately with them before publicly ‘outing’ them. A company deserves the right to fix a wrong before you tweet it out to all your followers. Having said that though I have heard of people not getting anywhere with a complaint until they put it out on Twitter…and then the company was ready to resolve the issue right away!

The information available on Twitter and from other Twitter followers is limitless. All you have to do is tap into it!

What types of information do you use Twitter for while traveling?

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You can catch up from the beginning of the Twitter Travel Tips series with these posts:

Twitter Travel Tips: What The Heck Is Twitter?

Twitter Travel Tips: Setting Up Your Twitter Account

Twitter Travel Tips: Simple Syntax

Twitter Travel Tips: Building Community

Twitter Travel Tips: Bringing A Third Party To The Party

Twitter Travel Tips: Twitter Events

Twitter Travel Tips: It’s Social

Twitter Travel Tips: Get Recommendations

28 Mar

Goodbye; Hello

Downtown Victoria and James Bay

Photo Credit: TTCopley

 

Today is the last day in our latest hometown. Tomorrow we get on the ferry one last time (oh, how I won’t miss the ferry!) to cross the ocean (oh, but how I will miss the ocean!) and ultimately the mountains to our new home town of Calgary, Alberta.

I’m finding that it’s not hard leaving but it is hard to tell people why.

We’re just done here; it’s time for us to leave.

How do we tell people that the place that they have grown up in, are raising their families in, have chosen to come to, isn’t right for us anymore?

There is nothing wrong with here; other than it’s too easy to stay…and we don’t want easy.

They look at me with blank, uncomprehending stares; tell us how good we have it here; and wonder how we could possibly want to leave.

I get that they don’t get it; sometimes I don’t either but I have to leave. If I don’t I never will. And I need to.

There is something in me that compels me to keep going. I don’t know why. I don’t feel like I’m searching for anything; I just like different…but I also like not-different and if I don’t push myself toward different I will just stay. And I don’t want to stay.

Is it the same thing that compelled my parents to come here? Or before that maybe. I’ve always been fascinated by the first settlers in Canada and the US. What on earth compelled those people to leave their lives in Europe to come here and set up camp in the middle of nowhere?  And why, pray tell, did anyone stop in Manitoba or Saskatoon or Wyoming or Montana where the winters are brutal and the mosquitoes make summer unbearable?

I know it doesn’t make much sense and I don’t try to make sense of it. I want the same things everyone wants; happiness, a sense of peace, and a feeling of having done what we want to do.

For some, that is raising a family in the same hometown they were raised in; giving their kids a sense of security and belonging. For others it’s watching the seasons, and the landscape, change slowly over time; a chance to really know a place and all it’s nooks and crannies. For me, it’s that feeling that I’m always pushing myself; not too far, just into uncomfortable. The sense that I’m trying. That I’ll look back and say ‘yeah, that was worth it’.

We’re looking forward to new challenges and the excitement that exploring a new place will bring. We will miss friends and family; bootcamp buddies and riding mates; but it’s they who have put us up to this…always supporting us and seeing our potential. And for that we are grateful. It’s been fun; thank you.

And so we say goodbye to Victoria, and hello to the next GiantStep in this great adventure.

Calgary Skyline

Photo Credit: James Bremner

 

To help transition across the ocean and over the mountains into a new home and job, I have asked some friends to help me with posting in the next couple of weeks. It’s a great chance to hear some new voices here as they share their stories. Please welcome them warmly and visit their home sites too. Cheers!

25 Mar

#FollowFriday 25Mar2011

Happy #FollowFriday!!

This week; a couple that are about to set off for world travel, a solo who gets out as much as she can, and a growing family who lives on the road.

As usual, some excellent examples of traveling and some great tweeps to connect up with!

Erica and Shaun  www.OverYonderlust.com @overyonderlust

These two travelers have been planning and scheming for over a year now. In fact OverYonderlust just celebrated it’s first birthday! Their plan is to kick off travel in Central and South America in the next couple of months and to travel for what I think it an undetermined time. They are currently working through their last minute to-do lists and anxiety checks. Their site is worth checking out if only for Erica’s fabulous photography…although I have a feeling that their travel stories are going to be interesting too!

Amanda  www.Dangerous-Business.com @dangerousbiz

I love Amanda’s fresh attitude toward travel. She is an Ohioan (is that the correct term?) who, like many of us, is struggling between managing a stationary life and the draw of travel. Her attitude and enthusiasm for all things travel (and for New Zealand in particular) is infectious as she tells stories and schemes of ways to get out on the road. She is definitely one to watch and I, for one, will be.

Caz and Craig  www.YTravelBlog.com @ytravelblog

This couple has been traveling and living around the world, apart and together, since 1997. Three years ago they added their daughter Kalyra and, more recently, they announced that they are expecting a second child. Although they touch on family travel on their YTravelBlog, it is not the focus. The focus is about how to travel and the site is packed with information, advice and how-to’s. Their Facebook page is an excellent place to connect up with them and other travelers. Definitely a blog, and couple, to follow!

What about you? Who are you following this week?

Have you ‘Liked’ the OneGiantStep FaceBook page yet ?

21 Mar

Twitter Travel Tips: Get Recommendations

When we left for our trip in June2009 Twitter had been around for a little while but it hadn’t really taken off…or at least I didn’t realize the value of it at the time. Since returning I’ve learned much more about how Twitter works and how it can be used as a traveler. I’m no expert by any means but I do think that knowing how Twitter worked would have changed how we traveled. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll share what I’ve learned so that you can put it to use in your own travels!!

Without a doubt the absolute best way to find a place to stay, or a great meal, or the fastest travel route is to ask other travelers where they stayed, or ate, or how they got to a place.

Guidebooks can help but we all know that they are over relied upon, not updated often enough, and send all of us to the same places. What you want is up-to-the-minute information on what a hostel/hotel is like, what restaurant or food cart has the best food, where to get the cheapest beer, and where is that secret trail to the best viewpoint.

When we met travelers going in the opposite direction to us, we would pump them for all this information and often I would email those that I knew had been in an area we were headed to. Everyone was always more than willing to help; providing names and phone numbers, best buses and routes, and revealing their secret finds.

Twitter magnifies this whole idea. Instead of the few people I contacted by email I would now be able to tweet out questions about an area to my 1000+ followers and likely have them retweet a request to their own 100, or 200, or 587, or 17,649 followers resulting in a greater depth of information than ever before.

And this information network goes beyond just your followers and your followers’ followers. Many well-known travel companies use Twitter as a means to connect with new travelers and return customers on a more personal level. Companies like Orbitz (@Orbitz) use Twitter as a way to spread the word about contests and low-fare alerts, while others like Jet Blue (@JetBlue) use it to reach out to people who are tweeting while in flight or at the airport. Even smaller niche companies are using Twitter to connect with people and build brand awareness by offering discounted resort rentals and assistance to owners.

Remember that Twitter is all about people. People who have been where you’re going and who might be able to help get you there. Who want to share what they know with you. Tweet out a question using the country or city hashtag and ask that it be retweeted.There, you’re reaching real people and potentially real companies who will often provide you with a great deal.

And you can return the favor. When you’re traveling you can watch for questions that relate to where you have been and share what you have learned. If someone is looking for an airline discount or a place to stay, recommend a company or hotel that has serve you well in the past. Even at home you can help; there are people who come to visit places that you know about at home. Follow the hashtag for your city and see if you can’t help out visitors to your area.

You can catch up from the beginning of the Twitter Travel Tips series with these posts:

Twitter Travel Tips: What The Heck Is Twitter?

Twitter Travel Tips: Setting Up Your Twitter Account

Twitter Travel Tips: Simple Syntax

Twitter Travel Tips: Building Community

Twitter Travel Tips: Bringing A Third Party To The Party

Twitter Travel Tips: Twitter Events

Twitter Travel Tips: It’s Social


18 Mar

#FollowFriday 18Mar2011

Traveling as a family has been the topic of a few conversations lately which is weird because Jason and I don’t have a family (well, we have family but we don’t have any children) . It’s come up though because people will say to me that I’m lucky to be able to do what I do because I don’t have a family…to which I say bullsh*t.

I believe that we are all capable of doing what we want BUT you have to be able to make sacrifices. You CAN travel the world with your kids but you can’t have it all.

This week I’ll introduce you to some families that have decided to make travel a priority and you can see that having children need not be a barrier to travel but can enhance it and be shared. They are all excellent resources for family travel and all contain a blogroll that will introduce you to even more traveling families.

Theodora and Z  www.TravelsWithANineYearOld.com @mummy_t

@mummy_t and Z have been traveling for more than a year now and have extended their initial one year plan into a multi year adventure that is now seeing Z settle in to school on Bali. Like most traveling family blogs, TravelsWithANineYearOld is an honest look at what traveling with children is like. Her post this week, Back To School, caught my eye as a straightforward look at the practicalities and emotions involved in not only returning to school, but in returning to school in a foreign country.

The Vogel Family  www.FamilyOnBikes.org @familyonbikes

I find this family extremely inspirational. On 08June2008 John, Nancy, Daryl and Davy left from the Arctic Circle in Northern Alaska and, if all goes well this weekend, they will arrive in Ushuaia, Argentina (the southern most town in South America) on Monday on their bicycles!!! They have pedaled every inch of the way from the tip of North America to the tip of South America. Unbelievable!

Their story didn’t start with this trip though; you can spend hours trolling their site reading about their past adventures as a family and learning how John and Nancy met which was indeed an adventure in and of itself!!

Congratulations to the Vogels as they reach the end of this journey!!

Michelle, Murph, BigB and CAM  www.WanderMom.com @wandermom

This family is also no stranger to travel and their current RTW trip, which started in Sept 2010 is just their most recent GiantStep. Wandermom writes about all aspects of travel; from planning and packing, to schooling and other practical basics. Michelle literally wrote the book on Traveling With Kids so you know she has to be a great resource! Plus there are tons of links to other family travel resources. There is nothing but good advice and great stories here.

What about you? Who are you following this week?

Have you ‘Liked’ the OneGiantStep FaceBook page yet ?

16 Mar

Twitter Travel Tips: It’s Social

When we left for our trip in June2009 Twitter had been around for a little while but it hadn’t really taken off…or at least I didn’t realize the value of it at the time. Since returning I’ve learned much more about how Twitter works and how it can be used as a traveler. I’m no expert by any means but I do think that knowing how Twitter worked would have changed how we traveled. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll share what I’ve learned so that you can put it to use in your own travels!!

Traveling is, and should be, a social experience. An opportunity to meet local residents and other travelers; to share stories of culture similarities and differences; to break bread and drink beer. We met many people while on the road, some who we still stay in contact with and others who made that particular experience special, but I think that Twitter would have helped even more in this regard.

The connections made on Twitter are far reaching and personal. Some think that Twitter is impersonal because it is so big but I find just the opposite. Being able to connect with a person one on one makes it clear that there is a person behind that @name and avatar. And it’s the connections that drive the support that you see in the Twitter travel community.

Day after day I see fellow travelers reach out and help each other. Whether it’s a blogger who needs some advice as they step out and try something new, or one who needs to hear some encouraging words as they struggle a bit; a traveler feeling lonely or wondering where they should go next; there is always the community to rally around them and help boost them up, or provide advice, or be a cheering section.

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I love reading personal travel stories and learning about a place through the eyes of another. It can help determine where I want (or don’t want) to travel to and gives me a glimpse into how other people see the world. I already followed a good number of travel blogs but Twitter has, by far, increased my weekly reading! Not everyone on Twitter has a blog, and you certainly don’t need one to be successful on Twitter, but many do and I have found some excellent reading in the community.

Many bloggers promote their blog posts on Twitter, so it’s easy to find new stories to read. Alternately you can visit a persons Twitter site to see if they have a website posted.

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TweetUps and/or MeetUps are a chance to get out of the cyber world and meet in the real world. It may be just a few tweeps who are in the same area arranging to meet at a coffee shop to continue the conversation, or it may be a larger affair put out to a city or group #hashtag where you can meet people that maybe you haven’t even tweeted with but who share an interest with you whether it be travel, or birdwatching, or guitar strumming.

I’ve been looking on Twtvite.com for tweetups in #YYC when I move there but you could also simply google ‘travel tweetup’ (or ‘birdwatching tweetup’, or ‘guitar strumming tweetup’) to find one near you.

Think it’s weird to meet up with people you don’t know? Well, you do know them if you’ve been chatting with them on Twitter and, even if you haven’t, you already have something in common and aren’t you here to meet new people?

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The social aspects of Twitter would surely have changed how we traveled. Being able to make connections, get advice, and feel the support would have made reaching out worthwhile. Finding new bloggers to follow and connect with would have provided a whole other level of information and meeting up with fellow travelers around the world would have been so much fun!

You can catch up from the beginning of the Twitter Travel Tips series with these posts:

Twitter Travel Tips: What The Heck Is Twitter?

Twitter Travel Tips: Setting Up Your Twitter Account

Twitter Travel Tips: Simple Syntax

Twitter Travel Tips: Building Community

Twitter Travel Tips: Bringing A Third Party To The Party

Twitter Travel Tips: Twitter Events


14 Mar

If You’re Young, Why Are You Still Here?

Photo Credit: Matt Hintsa

It has struck me lately that, if I were younger, I would do things a lot differently than I am doing them right now.

Operation Responsibly Irresponsible is in full swing and will see us moving to Calgary at the beginning of April to start new jobs, make new friends, and try out a new way of living as we save as much money as we can before moving out-of-country.

We’re not saving to be able to travel; I think we could make enough money while traveling to sustain ourselves. We’re saving to be able to set ourselves up after we travel. We’re not young and, one day, we’ll need to be able to take care of ourselves at retirement…whatever that is going to look like.

And so, my point. If I were younger I wouldn’t be waiting it out here….I would be out there. I think if you’re young there are a ton of things  you can do to be traveling right now!

What are you waiting for? You have a bazillion years before you’re old and have to worry about retirement. Are you married? Have children? Take them with you. Have a house/condo/townhouse? Sell it. A job? Quit it. Debt? Well, I do believe you have a responsibility to your debt but fill that hole quickly for crying out loud!!

The one thing you have that is worth more than anything is time. Don’t squander it, waste it, spend it on worthless sh*t, or undervalue it.

What? You don’t have enough money saved? Well, you can work while you travel. You’ll likely make enough to fund your travels; especially if you’re traveling in Asia and/or South America. You’ll certainly make enough to limit the draw on your savings as you travel.

There are other benefits too. If you’re working, you are more likely to be part of the community; either the local community if the work is local based, or the traveler community if the work is more tourism based. If you’re part of the community you are likely to learn more of, from and about that community. If you’re working, you are more likely to be living locally and traveling more slowly which gives you the opportunity to know the neighborhood and understand its ebb and flow.

Here are some ideas:

  • Teach English. You may need a TEFL certificate or a university degree…or you may not.
  • Seasonal work (farm work, fruit picking, sheep shearing etc)
  • Tour guide. The guides we met in Berlin were Americans with German history degrees…maybe your education can help you too?
  • Hostel work
  • Sling beer at a local beer joint.
  • Waiter/Waitress
  • Dive Instructor
  • Ski Instructor

Another reason to work and travel while you’re young is because it becomes more difficult to get a working visa as you get older. Many countries hand out under-35 working visas like their candy but, if your over 35, it can be much more difficult.

It’s your choice; you can work at home and try to save money to start traveling…or you can start traveling and work to keep yourself on the road. I know I make it sound as though it’s so easy and I get that it’s not but what if you didn’t have to stay home quite so long to save quite as much money? Just think about it that’s all I’m saying.

11 Mar

#FollowFriday 11Mar2011

How did #FollowFriday sneak up so fast this week?

It must be because I spent most of the week in #YYC (Calgary) finding a new apartment and setting up for the new job. A successful trip (we found the cutest apartment in a great neighborhood) and, although the weather could have been warmer (how is this Island girl going to manage -30 or -40 next winter?), we’re excited to start exploring our new home.

This week it’s all about the male traveler:

Anil Polat  www.foXnoMad.com @foxnomad

Anil’s site is expansive…as is his knowledge about travel and technology. It’s a great resource with information not only on where to travel but also on how to travel with tips and tricks on packing and planning and how-to’s that will definitely make traveling easier. He’s also a great tech resource; helping you to decide which technologies are best for traveling and showing how to best use that technology to your advantage once you’re on the road.  Check him out, I know you’ll find him to be personable and super helpful.

Peter Carey  www.TheCareyAdventures.com @pwcarey

I love Peter’s photography which is good because that’s what he does. That, and travel. Which is a perfect combination. His Photo Of The Day is always a stunning picture of some exotic locale that makes my wanderlust sing and the photographer in me just wish I could create something even close. Lucky for us this month he is sharing his photog skills in his 31 Days To Better Photography series. It’s a generous offering of his experience and knowledge that will surely help even the most practiced photographer. I’m learning already and we’re only a few days in. Thanks Peter!

‘Dad’ and Tigger   www.1Dad1Kid.com @1dad1kid

Dad’s story is a compelling one of love, challenge, and triumph. As he and Tigger prepare to leave for an open ended travel adventure you can be sure that this might be the easiest thing he’s done in a few years. We all have things to overcome in order to live out our dreams but, sometimes, you don’t have to look far to find people that are really inspirational; those that face greater challenges and stand up to them with such grace that you can’t help but admire them. Check out their story and prepare to follow along as they show how to travel as a family.

What about you? Who are you following this week?

Have you ‘Liked’ the OneGiantStep FaceBook page yet ?

09 Mar

Twitter Travel Tips: Twitter Events

When we left for our trip in June2009 Twitter had been around for a little while but it hadn’t really taken off…or at least I didn’t realize the value of it at the time. Since returning I’ve learned much more about how Twitter works and how it can be used as a traveler. I’m no expert by any means but I do think that knowing how Twitter worked would have changed how we traveled. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll share what I’ve learned so that you can put it to use in your own travels!!

Twitter events are like parties with in the party and the best part is you don’t need an invitation!! You might notice one is going on because you’ll all of a sudden see people you are following all using the same #hashtag and are all seemingly ‘in’ on whatever is going on.

Don’t worry, I’ll explain a few that I know of to you here and, if you see another that isn’t listed here all you have to do is tweet one of the participants and ask them. It’s that easy. They will explain and, if there is a website associated, will likely point you to it. Really! People are just that nice and they want to include you.

For me, there are two types of Twitter events; FollowDays and TweetChats. There are likely others but these are the ones I know of or am involved in.

FollowDays are specific days where you share with your followers the people that you follow. Get it? It’s a chance to make a shout out to let others know who you are following and why. It’s also a perfect way to find other great tweeters to follow. It’s like meeting friends of friends; you already have something in common!

You’ll often see people simply list a group of users that they follow but I prefer a more personal approach and I send a #follow tweet that explains why I follow a particular person. Actually, this is where the #FollowFriday series came from on OneGiantStep. I wanted to share with my blog readers those people from Twitter that I really like.

Getting involved is as simple as sending out a tweet using the #hashtag for the day and the @name of the user you want to spotlight. Example: #FF @OneGiantStep because she is creating a great Twitter Travel Tips series!

  • #TravelTuesday (or #TT) Tuesdays are reserved for shouting out travel bloggers and tweeters or those involved in the travel industry.
  • #FollowFriday (or #FF) Fridays are a free-for-all follow-a-thon. Promote any tweeter that you like. Let your followers know who deserves special mention.

TweetChats are virtual ‘meetings’.  Some are just informal get-togethers at a pre-arranged time with no leader or topic; just an opportunity to connect up. Others are more structured with a theme for the chat or even a question and answer format. They all work by using a specific #hashtag to identify that you are part of the chat.

**Hint** I usually set one of my TweetDeck columns to search for the #hashtag, and set that column to be right next to my @mentions column. Then I can follow the chat and keep track of any personal tweets that come my way.

Tweetchats can be very overwhelming. Someone described them as ‘drinking from the firehose’. There are often hundreds of tweeters all tweeting at the same time about the same thing. Relax. Don’t try to read them all (you can’t); just pay attention to those that catch your eye and comment, ask questions, or contribute where you can.

I have found Tweetchats to be very entertaining and informative; I have met plenty of other bloggers and tweeters and have learned a lot about the subjects that have been covered.

  • #blogchat occurs on Sunday nights at 6-7PM Pacific Time. It is not specific to travel or travel bloggers but focuses on blogging in general. I have learned a lot from this one and try to catch at least some of it every week. There is usually a theme and Mark Collier moderates. It’s pretty free form with people asking and answering any questions relating to the theme. You can find out more at Marks’ What Is #blogchat post. Use the #blogchat hashtag to participate.
  • #tni is on Thursdays at 12:30-2PM Pacific Time. Travelers Night In is more structured with a theme and a host who tweets out questions every 10 minutes. The participants format their tweets as answers to the questions. You can find out more about #tni at ZipSetGo’s website. Full disclosure: I have never attended this chat as I work during the day. Use the #TNI hashtag to participate.
  • #ttot Travel Talk On Twitter occurs on Tuesdays…twice, to better catch all the time zones. Once at 1:30AM PST and again at 1:30PM Pacific Time. Visit the #ttot Facebook page to learn more. It has multiple hosts and is a question and answer format. Again, I have never followed this one either. Use the #ttot hashtag to participate.
  • #heybackpacker isn’t an event per se but a community of travelers sharing their experiences, swapping stories, seeking advice, and talking travel. Simply add the hashtag to your tweets to join the community and meet other backpackers and independent travelers around the world.

I’m sure there are other FollowDays and TweetChats as well as other Twitter events. It can all get overwhelming pretty quickly so these are the ones that I intermittently take part in. Like anything, you have to find what works for you. I usually take part in #FollowFriday and I try to get to #blogchat weekly…say hello (@OneGianstStep) if you stop by.

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You can catch up from the beginning of the Twitter Travel Tips series with these posts:

Twitter Travel Tips: What The Heck Is Twitter?

Twitter Travel Tips: Setting Up Your Twitter Account

Twitter Travel Tips: Simple Syntax

Twitter Travel Tips: Building Community

Twitter Travel Tips: Bringing A Third Party To The Party

07 Mar

Twitter Travel Tips: Bringing A Third Party To The Party

When we left for our trip in June2009 Twitter had been around for a little while but it hadn’t really taken off…or at least I didn’t realize the value of it at the time. Since returning I’ve learned much more about how Twitter works and how it can be used as a traveler. I’m no expert by any means but I do think that knowing how Twitter worked would have changed how we traveled. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll share what I’ve learned so that you can put it to use in your own travels!!

A colleague of mine once told me a story about a Tacky Party that she went to. The idea was to dress, and act, as tacky as possible. To comply she and her husband, dressed in their tackiest finery, brought along uninvited guests and proceeded to not introduce them to anyone. How tacky is that?! I love this story and only wish that I had the balls!

In Twitter, bringing a third party to the party isn’t tacky at all…in fact, it can really help you out. Once I discovered TweetDeck, TinyURL and Su.Pr, tweeting became much easier for me…I finally felt like one of the popular kids at the party! I could keep track of multiple conversations, knew the shorthand for those long, tedious web addresses and I figured out how to schedule tweets. If only I had an iPhone or other handy mobile device I would be set…I know, I know…time to get with it but, really, I’m a Luddite in a techy world.

Consolidators Discovering these changed Twitter for me making it much more accessible and fun. These applications combine all social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace etc) together so that you can easily manage them all in one place. I can switch back and forth between them or send a message to all of them at once. I can make a column for each of the lists, or searches, that I want to follow; include one for the regular timeline with all the people I follow; one for @mentions; and one for DM’s. When I’m in a #chat I can just add a column for it temporarily. There are probably dozens of ways to use them – depends on what works for you!

Although I have tried each of these, and have a favorite, I won’t review them here. My advice is to try them (they all have free versions which should be more than enough) and see which works best for you. They are all pretty intuitive so you can figure them out just by playing around. If you get stuck there are always help forums on their websites or, if you like, drop me a line (or, better yet, Tweet me!) and I’ll see if I can help.

Scheduling The ability to schedule tweets throughout the day was revolutionary for me. I want to publicize when I have a new post but I’m not always around when the peak tweeting times occur. Scheduling tweets lets me send posts at the times when they will reach the most readers.

All the consolidating third party applications have a scheduling option, and I do use the one in TweetDeck but for some reason I seem to gravitate to Su.pr to do most of my tweet scheduling. I like the layout there better, can see the scheduled tweets easier, and I prefer the way the schedule tool works. Again, just personal preference.

***Here’s a BIG FAT let-me-help-you-because-it-took-me-forever-to-figure-it-out TIP***

Twitter doesn’t like duplicate tweets. Doesn’t like as in doesn’t allow them – I guess it’s to help stop spammers (naughty, naughty spammers!). The scheduling applications I have used (Su.pr and TweetDeck) don’t allow you to schedule duplicate tweets but they don’t tell you that!!! The tweets just fail (Tweetdeck) or won’t post to the schedule page (Su.pr)…but there is no explanation. I’m here to tell you that it’s because you already have a tweet that is a duplicate. No problem though – just go right ahead and change one character in that duplicate tweet…there, not a duplicate any more. See, that was totally helpful and was probably the best Twitter Travel Tip of the whole darn series.

URL Shorteners You know you only have 140 characters to get your thought across but what if you want to share a totally great website and the URL takes up 92 of those characters? Bummer. That’s where URL shorteners come in handy; they take a long website address and compress it into a much shorter version so it will take up less space in your tweet. Like magic. Okay, it’s probably not really magic but I don’t really understand how it works; I just know that it does work.

I think all of the third party consolidators include a URL shortener and here are some other places you can easily get URL shortened:

Pictures/Video Another thing I see a lot of, although I don’t personally do it, is the sharing of pictures on Twitter. Like they say ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and, when you only have 140 characters, a picture can go a long way. There may be other picture sharing options out there, but I mostly see TwitPic being used so it must be good. I don’t post pictures so can’t say first hand. I haven’t seen any video posted but there is also a TwitVid application so it must be possible.

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Are you feeling more comfortable in Twitter yet? Made some friends; found some people to follow; maybe even have a few people following you? Remember, it’s like a party…you just have to jump in where you can, share some interesting tidbits you’ve found, tell a funny joke. Go ahead, I know it’s hard but it’s not like high school…really, you’ll find that people want to talk with you!

You can find me at @OneGiantStep…send me a tweet and let me show you around!

You can catch up from the beginning of the Twitter Travel Tips series with these posts:

Twitter Travel Tips: What The Heck Is Twitter?

Twitter Travel Tips: Setting Up Your Twitter Account

Twitter Travel Tips: Simple Syntax

Twitter Travel Tips: Building Community

04 Mar

#FollowFriday 04Mar2011

Happy #FollowFriday!

This Friday sees me winging it to my soon-to-be-new-hometown to check out apartments. That would be #YYC for you hashtag following tweeps and Calgary to those of you who speak normal language. I think that any time I leave home I’m traveling and I intend on treating this weekend just like that. We’ll check out some new neighborhoods and hit a pub or two in search of some good beer (I’m worried as I live in southwestern BC which really does have some of the best beer in the world!). Wish me luck!!

Here are some great tweeps to check out this weekend.

Lisa  www.ChickyBus.com @chickybus

Lisa doesn’t just write about travel; she tells great stories about the places she’s been, asks great questions about how we might travel, and takes great pictures to boot! In fact, her Trippy Travel Photo series is usually a ton of fun to watch…she posts a photo from her travels and we all guess as to where it is from. She is everywhere on Twitter and offers tons of support. I suggest you get aboard and grab a seat on this bus! It’ll be quite a ride!

Sally www.UnBraveGirl.com @unbravegirl

I love Sally’s writing not in spite of the fact that she breaks many blogging rules but because of it. She writes long, rambling posts and pays no attention to the ‘keep the paragraphs short’ rule. But it doesn’t matter because she is freaking hilarious!! I mean check out her categagory list: Blah, Blah, Blah (I Can’t Even Remember What This Is About) or I Almost Died (I Swear!) and Advice You Shouldn’t Take Seriously (Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You). Her posts are a great romp through what it’s like to travel with a glint in your eye and your tongue planted firmly in your cheek.

Jack And Jill   www.JackAndJillTravel.com @jacknjilltravel

Jack and Jill have been blogging for a while about their upcoming RTW adventure but they only just came out this week. Before now, they hadn’t told family, friends or employers about their plans and so hadn’t posted any pictures of themselves on the site. This week was the big reveal and we can finally see their smiling, friendly faces. They leave on their adventure on April 18th…be sure to follow along!

What about you? Who are you following this week?

Have you ‘Liked’ the OneGiantStep FaceBook page yet ?