And all of these can be taken with you on your next family vacation as well – so that you can keep family and friends not only apprised of what you’re up to, but make them feel almost as if they’re there right with you too.
This really stood out to me on the recent TravelingMom retreat at Disney World, when 30 bloggers took to the streets of the Disney parks, armed with cameras and smartphones to participate in a scavenger hunt. Now not only was this truly a fun and unique way to experience the parks (Epcot Center, for my group), and a great way for members of the group to get to know each other better and form a true camaraderie with one another (all in the spirit of competition – go Baby Dumbo group! LOL), but it also let the world outside our retreat in on the fun too.
As we deciphered clues (do you know which pavilion in the World Showcase houses a statue of a camel? Or a replica of a wooden stave church? That would be Morocco and Norway, respectively!), we were also required to add updates to both Twitter and Facebook – both to let the organizers know where we were in the hunt, but also to share the fun experience with others outside of our group too. And it was a lot of fun to read responses that other people were leaving – in real time, while the scavenger hunt was still going on.
The whole experience showed me how well you can use social networking, not just during an organized event like a scavenger hunt – but just during your own family vacation too. Gone are the days of sending a postcard and hoping it’ll make it to its destination before you’re home or having to wait until your photos are developed before being able to share them with family and friends… Today, you can:
Need to find the best place for kids to eat at the Magic Kingdom? Or find out what time the Illuminations nighttime show begins at Epcot? Not only can you search and access the web to search for and find answers on your smart phone or tablet, but you can also easily get to the Disney Parks blog and the Disney Moms Panel sites as well – both of which are amazing resources to get answers when you need them.
If you’re active on Twitter already, you can often get answers quickly on there too – I’ve literally gotten faster answers from tweeting questions at times than by using a traditional search engine. And there’s a whole world of Disney experts out there ready and willing to help – no matter what your question, someone’s sure to know the answer.
No matter where you’re traveling, there’s usually ‘an app for that’ too. And don’t forget to use Google maps or other GPS-enabled apps to find your way from Point A to Point B without having to carry or fumble with maps or guidebooks. You can even send directions to your phone ahead of time from your computer at home!
Of course not every technology is perfect, so here are a few tips to remember so that you can make the most of these social networking sites and tools throughout your day:
But even with all of this technology at your fingertips - and all of these new ways to keep your family and friends at home up-to-date even to the minute, please don’t forget to put the phone or tablet down or turn it off long enough to have fun and enjoy the time together with your family.
Social networking is constantly evolving – almost daily it seems sometimes. Do you have any other social networking sites that you’ve found to be great resources when traveling? Share in the comments! And if you want to win a Kodak Pulse digital frame, I’m giving one away over here (through 3/31/11).
Deb writes as West Michigan TravelingMom as well as at Mom of 3 Girls and Just a mom’s take on things…. You can also find her on Twitter - she’s @DebMomOf3.