These days, there's not much we don't broadcast out to the world via social media websites. So many of us post visually striking pictures of our food before we eat it on Instagram, numerous people post birthday messages on the Facebook walls of individuals they haven't spoken to in person in years and others decide to publish a running commentary on their daily actions in real-time on Twitter. As such, anyone who's interested need only to look at our various networking profiles to learn much about us.
If you've spent a lot of time - and money - planning your next vacation, it makes sense that you're going to want to start posting the details and continue this until you come home. You can tweet about your favourite excursions, contribute to a virtual photo album on Instagram to document everything you're doing and check in to various locations on Facebook to keep people updated and prove you're having a great time.
However, as with all things, there are tips and tricks that can act as a guide of what you should and shouldn't do when it comes to social media and travel. Here are a few helpful hints:
Many people might think that a fun way to kick off your trip - and notify all of your followers that you're doing so - is to take a picture of your boarding pass and post it with a fun caption like "Off to Paris!" However, as experts know, this can present a lot of dangers.
The Huffington Post reported that anyone with an individual's boarding pass number can likely use it to hack into that person's itinerary, changing seats, ordering meals, cancelling trips and even accessing their frequent flyer account. Someone relatively skilled with a computer may even be able to then redeem flight vouchers or frequent flyer miles. The source also noted that, thanks to modern technology, this is possible even with just the barcode.
Another thing to worry about are posts that alert people to your whereabouts. Sure, it's probably tempting to brag that you're on a tropical island thousands of miles away with your family, but that also could mean that no one's at your house and it's ripe for thieves.
This type of thing is all too common these days - there have been instances of robbers hitting houses around holidays and school vacations because there's no one around to take note. As such, you should consider waiting until you get home to post all of your pictures and write up messages about what an amazing time you had. At the very least, take note of who you're connected to on these sites and update your privacy settings.
A best practice when it comes to posting on social media when you're on vacation suggests that you should only publish something every so often. If you're away for a week, for instance, consider checking in and updating three or four times over the seven days.
There are a few perks to approaching social media in this way - for one, you can avoid over-posting and annoying your friends and family. Second, you'll be able to stay in the moment and not be glued to your phone, tablet or laptop when you could instead be exploring your new surroundings.
When you finally make it to your ultimate destination and you're getting settled, you may want to sign onto social networking sites to see what you've missed and get crucial updates from friends and family. This is a good time to give the same to them.
You can use private inboxes, instant messaging and/or public posting to inform those important to you that you've landed safely, have made it to your hotel and are having fun. This can give the folks at home some peace of mind and ensure that you don't have to ring up long distance charges checking in later on.
If you're travelling out of the country or are even just nearing the end of your billing cycle, you're going to want to pay close attention to how you're connecting to social sites. Rather than relying on your 3G or 4G connections the way you do at home, you should ensure you're tapping into safe Wi-Fi networks.
This can mean the difference between returning home having used social media as normal and going back to a massive cell phone bill because you went way over your data plan in a foreign city, potentially while roaming. Ask about free or cheap Wi-Fi at the hotel and seriously consider whether you should be tapping into apps while out and about.