If you have a sense of adventure, Twitter can work for spontaneous travel. Let’s say you’re thinking of heading to San Francisco next weekend. You can send out tweets asking where to eat in SOMA or which websites are offering hotel deals in the Union Square area. (It works equally well in Rio de Janeiro or Lisbon.) And if you follow a site like @lastminute_com, you’ll have a constant stream of last-minute hotel deals around Europe. Need some travel inspiration?Follow @soultravelers3, a family on a three-year world tour; they’ve hit 24 countries so far.
If you’re hunting specifically for discount airfares, sign up with @yapta, which will send a fare drop alert to your Twitter name. Sure, it can also send one to your e-mail, but set up Twitter on your phone and it will alert you instantly, so you can get the info on a short lived bargain.
If you’re even a mildly obsessive foodie, it pays to use Twitter for dining tips. If you want to try the hippest new boîte in New York City, be sure to follow @eaterny or @jewelsny. For Vancouver restaurants, go to @tastingvan. Bookmark @ChicagoBites for food insights in the Windy City. You can also follow the tweets of sites like @Flavoursofitaly, which covers cooking schools and cooking vacations. Head to @italylogue and ask about options for a romantic dinner in Rome.
Fairmont Hotels (@fairmonthotels), which has been one of the most proactive chains on Twitter, recently gave away a three-night stay to a lucky Twitter user (above, Fairmont’s Chateau Whistler). You might also keep tabs on @MillenniumPR, for Millennium Hotels and Resorts, and @MarriottIntl, which floods Twitter with deals from its many brands. Tablet Hotels actively twitters on @TabletHotels. And go to @TravlAndLeisure for the latest on great affordable hotels.
Whatever your obscure focus is, you can bet that someone, somewhere, is tweeting about it. Anglophiles can learn about arcane pubs (like the one above) with @GoodPubGuide or keep abreast on all things London via @Londonist. If you’re interested in certain Spanish wines, follow @thirstforrioja. Going to Paris but want to be perfectly prepared for the climate?Keep track of temperatures at @weatherparis. Pondering a vacation home in Costa Rica?Look at @mlscostarica.
When a Continental Airlines aircraft veered off a Denver runway in December, it was Mike Wilson, a passenger on the flight, who sent out detailed tweets about the incident. The first photo of the US Airways plane that landed in the Hudson was on Twitter. Stories often break on Twitter before the news media have reported them. You can also use Twitter the next time you’re stuck on the runway for too long and want to alert others of your predicament.
Once you know you’re headed to a particular destination, use Twitter to find relevant information. Headed to Palm Springs?Follow @PalmSpringsCA for updates on hotel deals, weather, and events like classic car shows. For a New York City weekend, you could monitor @NewYorkology to keep up on shows and events. If you’re bringing the kids, keep an eye on @NYC_Mom, which focuses on families. And it’s smart to follow some general travel sites, such as @PlanetEye and the trend watcher @BrilliantTips.
Some companies are in the vanguard, using Twitter to attract younger, with-it customers. Southwest and Virgin America use Twitter for news, sales, and postings on delays. Other companies, like @raileurope, use it for short-term sales and to answer customer questions about which rail pass is right for them. Crystal Cruises has been using Twitter to announce onboard credits of $1,000 per couple on South American cruises, link to new videos highlighting its European cruises, and offer upgrades to veranda cabins. Travelocity answers user questions and posts deals, and Hertz is giving away vouchers for discounts.