Spending even the tiniest amount of time on social-networking site Twitter.com can feel like drinking from a firehose, with 140-character "tweets"—most of them inane; a handful prescient, depending on whom you follow—flooding your computer screen or smart-phone display like a swarm of chirping gnats. Enough to make any harried parent, already juggling too many demands on his or her time, to run for the hills like a technophobic Luddite, right?
As someone who indulges in this kind of microblogging for work (and some personal edification), Twitter does hold one distinct advantage for family-travel planners seeking relevant travel advice: that is, a vast and amorphous network of chatty and charismatic individuals, groups, even brands who are out there to make your search for that perfect family vacation even easier. The challenge? With whom do you connect, and how do you make it worth your time? I can't claim the below list is exhaustive or even definitive, but it's my curated slice of the Twitter zeitgeist when it comes to people—"tweeps," if you must use the jargon—to follow for the best family-travel intel. Once you've found the right mix of folks to follow, more will crop up on your radar. Follow the influencers, check out who they're following, follow their lists, and build out your own network of networks. Take part, too, so you can build up virtual relationships with the people from whom you seek advice. Honestly, it's not for everyone, but there is some fun to be had as you become your own gatekeeper over that ever-spewing firehose of virtual chatter.
Top 10 Family-Travel Resources on Twitter:
This is the handle for CiaoBambino.com, a site packed with smart, insightful family-travel guides to destinations, attractions, and lodging around the world. (Nancy Solomon, one of CiaoBambino's writers, is also a frequent Twitter-er, worth a follow, too, via @nancysolomon.)
As the mother of three kids under the age of five, I don't know where Debbie Dubrow, aka @deliciousbaby, gets the energy to network, travel, and dispense information with quite the frequency that she does. A well-connected voice in that sisterhood of mommy (and daddy) bloggers, @deliciousbaby tweets not only from the heart but from the perspective of someone who cares deeply about the planet on which we live (and the people who inhabit its far-flung corners).
As a dad myself, I'm not just including @elliottng as the token male in this list (OK, there is a smidgen of testosterone juicing going on here). Follow this handle, the personal profile of Silicon Valley entrepreneur and social-media travel guru Elliott Ng, for a window into the future of the online travel landscape. Sure, his tweets can be a bit "inside baseball," but you'll get to know all the big hitters plus expand your noggin' about the world at large with this follow.
@jenleo is the Twitter handle of L.A. Times travel blogger Jennifer Leo, meaning she has excellent access to some great breaking travel deals, not to mention interesting consumer news items. A good place to look for updates about major events affecting travelers, not to mention a fun, whimsical personality who will enliven your Twitter broadcast stream.
@kidtravel is the handle of Nancy Schretter, the founder and managing editor of FamilyTravelNetwork.com. Enjoy frequent updates about the latest reviews and deals on the site, plus well-connected conversation with the people who have their finger on the pulse of the top family-specific attractions, resorts, and more from around the U.S. and beyond. This is also a good resource to see which destinations are "in" during the different seasons.
@thevacationgals is the Twitter profile of three freelance writers, formerly of the TravelingMamas.com stable and some of the original core of mommy bloggers, at least to my mind, who've helped transform the way information is disseminated throughout the Web (i.e., by making the individuals the brand rather than the erstwhile information gatekeepers, the media brands themselves). Although they're based in California, Colorado, and Minnesota, they cast a wide net and have an international following.
Writer (and mom) Jamie Pearson is the creative force behind this handle as well as the TravelSavvyMom blog. Lonely Planet flagged the site as one of its top travel blogs of 2009, a well-earned accolade that's reflected in the useful stream of information that's put out through @travelsavvymom.
Another of the prolific and entrepreneurial cadre of mommy travel bloggers who've banded together to put out some really interesting travel resources that help satisfy a demand that clearly exists for truthful, unbiased parenting advice (on travel, among other topics of interest). Wandermom, aka Michelle Duffy, is a Seattle-based, globetrotting citizen of the world who brings a balanced and honest voice to her online musings.
Although the tweets from this handle of family-travel website WeJustGotBack.com can be a little self-promotional, the value here comes with regular access to some really great deals (and freebies) from resorts and other travel suppliers. The site itself also does a nice job of reviewing family-specific lodging and giving you a clear thumbs-up/thumbs-down overview of the best places to stay.
If the family-travel Twitterati have a figurehead, I'd say @wendyperrin must be close to the top. Well-known and well-loved for her work as an advice columnist for Condé Nast Traveler, she always has something interesting to report, whether it's the lowdown on exotic locales or the real deal on that deal from the resort just down the road.
That's my totally subjective ten to watch (well, follow), but I know I'm missing dozens of other great Twitter personalities. Let us know in the comments section below if you have other handles to recommend. List-sharing tool TweepML recommends additional family-travel profiles here. Finally, if you have other questions, Twitter-related or otherwise, feel free to drop us a line below or through Away.com's very own Twitter handle, @awayblog. For a comprehensive library of family-travel reviews, articles, and advice for hundreds of the top destinations around the world, delve into Away.com's Family Travel Guide.
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