Any regular Twitter user will be familiar with the benefits of this form of social networking. Its’ immediacy is unrivalled, it requires technology most of us already carry in our pockets, and opens up the globe for anyone keen to expand their social circle, share their insights or interests, or experience the world through the eyes of others, in 140 characters or less.
Twitter and independent travel are good companions. While blogging is time consuming and requires seeking out internet café’s or lugging round heavy laptops, and postcards are often an afterthought, recording your travels by Twitter provides a real time record of your trip and allows others to follow and participate in your journey from the comfort of their mobile phone or laptop.
Travel, particularly the more adventurous forms of it, is by its’ nature unpredictable. It’s not always possible to pre-book hotels or attractions when you don’t know where you’ll be the next minute, let alone the next night. Despite the modern proliferation of tourist offices, maps, guide books and websites, finding information as and when you need it can be time consuming and frustrating. But develop the right community of Twitter followers and they can be your online guide. Build up a network of adventurous like-minded people and they can become part of your journey.
Last summer we took our family of five on a cycle tour across Europe, from Amsterdam to Venice, following some of the great rivers through Holland and Germany then crossing the Alps through Austria to reach Northern Italy. Before departing we built up a following on Twitter. By the time we reached St Mark’s Square this had swollen as fellow users re-tweeted our adventures to their communities inviting others to join the virtual fun that accompanied our journey in the real world. Not all of our followers contributed to the journey, but those who did became valuable companions. They advised on hotels and hostels, helped us make difficult decisions, made us laugh, and boosted morale at difficult times. They were our virtual back up team and the journey wouldn’t have been the same without them.
We made a resolution to tweet every ten kilometres and stuck to it wherever possible, often adding a Twitpic to create a digital travel scrapbook which is now available to download online. This ‘twook’ encompasses the highs and the lows of travelling as a family. It’s also a story of our developing relationship with a band of armchair travellers. Some of it is us, some of it is them, and some of it is us replying to them. We thank every one of them for their contributions and hope to meet them virtually on our next voyage into the unknown.