With the summer holiday season approaching and the travel bug biting many of us, the thing is to find out how our old annual ritual can acquire new colours in the Digital Age.
This week, let us look at some tools that can help us in this. Some of them work off mobile phones, while others may need a full PC browser; also, some tools let us do the job without letting on who we are, while some require us to maintain an account with them.
For convenience in understanding, let us say we are travelling to Nainital; we are willing to interact with people, and take their advice; and we are prepared for some bad/indifferent experiences, as one man’s food may be another ther man’s poison. (If you are a single gle woman traveller, you may have e an issue with interacting with strangers, so caveat emptor — let the customer beware !)
But caveats apart, the botttomline is that apps and websites are here to make your travel not only more enjoyable, but give you an interesting mix of safety and adventure. This is because you can discover things, not plan much, and hope to stumble upon the right stuff.
Now, here are some options that make these possible.
Facebook graph search
You need to have a Facebook account for this, of course. And the graph search needs to be enabled. Assuming these criteria are met, let us do some searches:
My ‘friends’ who are from Nainital
Up pops a list of people on your friends list who are from Nainital, but may not live there any more.
My friends who live in Nainital
This will give you a list of people ople who live there (according to their Facebook details, which we presume are accurate). So if you are headed there, message them and catch up with them in real life.
These measures will give you an idea of how you can leverage your contacts and friends when you are travelling and get the feeling of having a host in every place you visit — assuming you have a big network of friends.
We can make this more interesting by casting the net wider.
If we search for ‘friends of my friends who are from Nainital’ and ‘friends of my friends who live in Nainital’ we have a list of people whom we do not necessarily know, but can meet, if both parties are willing. We may get tips, advice aand who knows, a friendly coffee or a meal as we learn about must-see places, eateries and perhaps, avoid getting fleeced.
We can make this search more sophisticated. If we want an opinion on whether a restaurant is good or not, we can ask for something like “friends of mine who have visited Nainital.” This throws up more options, more people whom we can speak to, and more sources of information.
Here on Biz
What if you are not on to Facebook? Or if you are a business traveller?
There is a new kid on the block, and it is about to change how we meet people on the roaroad. For this to work, we need a LinkedIn (professional networkinging) account and an iPhone to run the app. Those people who have enabled their profile to appear on Here on Biz show up in a search.
So if we log in and search for people in Nainital, it would show people who are there. We can connect to them by messaging or by getting a common contact to introduce us, and voila! We have a potential business meeting or discussion on, apart from new reference points for the city.
What if we don’t want people to know who we are? Say we are worried about privacy and/or security.
This is where Foodspotting comes in useful. The website is www.foodspotting.com, and it has an app for Blackberry, Android and Windows phones, besides the iPhone.
This application senses where we are and acts accordingly. Alternately, we can input the destination, and it throws up photos of food from the area, with some feedback. If a chocolate truffle looks interesting, we can read the two sentences that go below it, and choose the dessert for the day.
So whether we are networking on ththe road, finding places to eat, or just looking to add a new dimension to a mundane trip, technology has ways and means to make our travel more enjoyable, and diversified!