I am thankful everyday to be studying abroad in the age of social media. My reliance on Google maps, Yelp, and travel planning apps is undeniable; I am not sure how I would navigate Europe without these tools in the palm of my hand. In a connected world crowdsourcing- the practice of obtaining information by enlisting the services of a large number of people- is an essential tool in knowing where to go and what to do while you travel, using the knowledge of others who have visited places you have never been before. I find insider knowledge through a wealth of tools including:
The most mainstream app I use is Airbnb. Stranger to few now, the apps allows you to book a room or entire home of another Airbnb user. You can search by location, price, time-table, number of guests, rating, and more. The tool I find most valuable on Airbnb is user reviews, detailing the cleanliness of the space, location in the city , and reliability of the owner by people who have already rented the home. This is often the deciding factor in my decision to stay in a particular place. Additionally, My Guide Book will help you find the most popular destinations to visit in the cities you travel to.
Another favorite app of mine is Travel and Leisure magazine’s Travel Guide. It gives an overview of the city you plan to visit including best time to visit, transportation, weather, languages spoken, currency used, and types of electrical outlets used. Hotel, bar, restaurant, and shopping recommendations are also available through the app. The interface is extremely easy to use and being that it is created by Travel + Leisure, the photography and art used is superb. This is great to skim for last minute recommendations as you pack.
Trip Advisor is a tried and true classic. A great example of crowdsourcing, all recommendations are based off user reviews. Because Trip Advisor is one of the older players in the game, it has a catalog of locations and reviews unmatched by similar sites. Trip Advisor is what I go to as my final decision maker; if a hotel or restaurant has a bad rating on this app, it’s over. Use this app before you book that hotel that looks a little too nice for the price ( I learned this the hard way when I booked a hotel in Paris without throughly vetting it through Trip Advisor, and found out later about bed bugs and crabs).
For more travel apps that use crowdsourcing and social media tools, look below: