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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Twitter, travel itineraries and travel junkets

I'm so busy writing (two books on Australia) that I have little time for blogging. I could easily spend all day every day doing nothing but writing, but I need to cram coffee breaks with things other than travel writing to keep me sane - like trip-planning (Dubai, Venice and Spain next) and reading:
* You know how I find itineraries fascinating (read
this post and this one)... well Heather on her Travels has undertaken an interesting experiment, posting a '36 hours in Berlin' itinerary with a difference. It includes the itinerary she planned before she went to Berlin and what she actually did when she got there. Worth a study for aspiring travel writers.
* In 'Sour Grapes' over at Wide angles, wine and wanderlust, Terry is blogging about a story in the Sydney Morning Herald, 'So fresh, so clean, so not buying', that has us both bewildered. We're not sure what's more objectionable - that the writer proudly discourages readers visiting one of Australia's greatest wine regions to not by the wines (!) at a time when the government and tourism bodies are trying to persuade Aussies to take their leave and do stay-cations to help save the economy. Or the fact that his trip was paid for by the South Australian Tourism Commission.
* At educational travel blog Following the Equator, Eric is enjoying Twitter and has posted a list of 50 Travel Tweepers on Twitter (including moi), while World Hum has posted Twitter Tips from 25 Tweeting Travellers. The latter is being seen by many, including Jessica Spiegel at BootsnAll as a tactic to lure back pro-Twitter travellers who were offended by columnist Rolf Potts' answer to a reader's question "Should I Twitter from the Road?" I'll let you read Potts' response and the heated debate that ensues in the comments, but essentially he likens Twitter users to a former college mate Doug, who he thinks was a "doofus" because he continually updated his answer machine message with mundane details about his comings and goings. Potts believes using Twitter on the road will distract you from amazing local experiences. What he doesn't seem to understand is that Twitter can do exactly the opposite and allow you to connect with (and meet and get advice from) like-minded locals (not only other travellers) in a way that you could never have been before. Jessica writes a fantastic post on the whole twittroversy (?!): To Use Twitter for Travel or Not to Use It: Is That Really the Question? while Vicky Baker at Going Local, also reflects on it. Vicky, who occasionally posts about Twitter, also asks 'Are you a social netsetter?'

Pictured? Camel-trainers exercising their camels in Dubai. That's Terry crouched in between them shooting pics. When we lived at Al Mankhool and before they moved the track, we'd regularly head over there on weekends to watch them train. The second bloke on the camel is on his mobile phone. Most of these guys would either be chatting or texting on their mobiles from the backs of their camels. I wouldn't be surprised if when I return next month I find they're using Twitter.


Sandy O'Sullivan said...

Twittering... the camels or the guys? Absolutely!

Ah the trip planning is great eh? I planned so much of my trip only to remember yesterday that I totally forgot about booking a car. Bit hard to have a Road Trip Americkey-style without a car. But the actual 'seeing things' itinerary has proven harder, I confess... and some of it is that I have some moments that can't vary (appointments, presentations etc) and I keep hoping that I will see some amazing things, but knowing that sometimes amazing IS going to the track every weekend for a month to get the good camel show, you know? So... I dunno about Twitter still... I like the more formal and remembered moment that is attached to the blog... you often refer back to past articles that you wrote, you can't do that with twitter... I'm not sure I'm ready to live in that much of the moment in my travels!

That So fresh, so clean, so not buying article is a load of crap... I LOVE that it is a competitive nasty that informs it... typical poor journalism that I've come to expect from the SMH (apart from the work from my lovely Lenny Ann Low, who apart from being a good friend, is someone who always has a positive, but discerning word to say... proving that you can editorialise and have journalistic balance all in one).

I feel a bit like the person attacking Twitter when I don't understand it... so I am going to make sure that I do use it more over the next few weeks and really try it out for some good advice on travel.


Jen Laceda | Milk Guides said...

Thanks for sharing all these. I know how I'll be spending my Sunday afternoon here in Toronto (while simultaneously chasing my little one).

marina villatoro said...

i'm still getting the whole hang of twitter. however, i don't really know how you can twitter constantly on the road unless you have some pretty great high tech phones. i know in costa rica i have to buy a $600 phone to twitter, cause the ones you can get at a regular cell phone shop dont work. so that would leave twittering only when i'm connected and that's not as often as i would love!
The Travel Expert(a) - Living and Traveling Central America

Lara Dunston said...

Hi Sandy

Dying to hear more about this trip of yours! Perhaps we can turn it into a blog post? Glad you agree about the SMH - I'm going to have to check out this friend of yours. Terry also has a friend who writes for the SMH - and for the travel section too.

Hi Marina

Look I really don't know how some people twitter constantly period. I wouldn't want to do it constantly to be honest, but I find it intriguing. I do like to see what people are twittering about and join in and I send out tweeps myself occasionally. My blog is linked so new blog posts update on twitter - and vice versa.

I only use twitter from the net though, not from my phone. I'm in Australia at the moment and phone calls are crazy-expensive. I'm planning on doing my own twitter experiment soon though, but we'll try to confine our usage to accessing it via the net if we can. We'll see...

Thanks for commenting you two!

JessieV said...

always interesting to read your posts, lara! i twitter when i have time. it could certainly be addictive but you have to control yourself. the world will go on...

Lara Dunston said...

Hi JessieV - thanks! Totally agree with you - in a way I'm glad I don't have time to tweep all the time.

Heather on her travels said...

Thanks for the mention on my trip planning in Berlin - we had the greatest time but often the fun things were those we hadn't planned.

On the wine tasting tours - I'm happy to take any freebie blogging trips but I think there are always ways you can tactfully voice something that's not so great without throwing it back in the face of your host.

Terence Carter said...

Hi Heather, how's things?
About the wine tour story:
Major newspaper article – not blog.
Freebie given to major newspaper with budget.
No help given to freelance writers doing 'substantial' pieces for major publishers.

What we don't want from tourism authorities is to organise freebies for us, but flights and rental cars IS something they do that doesn't compromise our opinions. And we know they have the budget.

Acting like an obnoxious prat with poorly developed social skills while on a 'freebie', just makes the writer look like an obnoxious prat with poorly developed social skills on a 'freebie'.

The fact that it was a freebie is indicated at the end of the story, but the place he stayed at and the food he ate certainly warrant more insightful comments than what were represented in the article. There is better accommodation, more sights and much better wineries in the area that the author cited.

If this is the future of newspaper travel writing, I'd rather get my tips from Twitter. And I hate twitter.

Uhh Tamsee said...

I keep track of your journeys. Waiting for next information - eagerly!!!

marina villatoro said...

Hi Laura, Sorry for the delayed response. I totally agree with you about twitter and I also stick to only the net, and my blogs are updated that way too. I have to sit down and really get into the groove of it. It's fun, but it can be such a time drainer!!! I have no idea how people have 30k followers. When do they have time to pee????

Lara Dunston said...

Hi Marina - I don't understand how they do *anything* - especially the travel writers who seem to twitter throughout the day - when do they actually *work*?!

marina villatoro said...

They don't, I've come to that conclusion. People simply are magicians and can balance 15 kids, a full time business, dinner for the whole family and tweet about it nonstop, or they are simply putting on a good show. Or maybe I just can't get my sh*t together:)