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A Shift In Social Travel
By: Jake Watt
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"And It's True, We Named Our Children After Towns That We'd Never Been To."
If there has been one thing social media — this collection of tubes that makes up the Internet as a whole, really —has done, it has really peaked an interest in taking a damn vacation. Odd that these little screens that sometimes hold us back from discovering our own cities can instill a lust for travel to places we've never even been. These often stem from the Flickr photo streams, Twitter updates, or the perfectly-modified Instagram cityscape shots from people we've never met. What is it about social that makes our hearts long for a new view through our Camera+ lens or want to follow some folks just to observe the one photo from that one check-in at what can only be the best place in town? How many loose "48 Hours or Less In…" articles do you have cluttering your browser's tabs? Does this behavior not express a level of trust we have in those we follow?
An article recently popped up extolling Trip Advisor's Facebook app, which pulls data, reviews, and desires from friends' pages. Savvy indeed; however, advice pulled from the profiles of my friends who have simply visited a city does not carry much weight. Do we truly have a similar taste quotient when traveling? Would risking an actual journey and the memories that would live in our scrapbooks be worth it in the end because of a friend's advice? Should the goal of social travel not be blurring that line between weary traveler and weathered native? Emphasize the adventure. Embrace the risks along the way to not only discover the places you have pinned to your Pinterest, but also a little bit of yourself.
Travel sites such as Gogobot allow for the creation of the perfect blend of sights, ballparks, dive bars, and everywhere in between, featuring ratings curated by dedicated locals and tourists alike. I applaud the structure and ease of building a trip; however, those unforgettable moments you are likely to experience are born from the circumstantial run-ins and one-off conversations with a staunchly proud local. The shift in social travel needs to happen where you are rewarded not with points, badges, or 30% off parasailing (sorry Groupon), but memories.
So how does one experience this type of discovery? It all comes back to trust. Trust in the tips and tricks found on that app, but don't plan the next six stops of your Saturday. This is an inherent value in social travel; trust, discover, deviate from the plan.
Travel and social are as married to one another as my hometown of Pittsburgh is to a sandwich with fries on it. But don't take my word on it; it's just a tip from some stranger on the Internet.

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About the Author
Jake Watt is the Digital Strategist at The brpr Group. A recent graduate with honors from the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics, Jake’s deep appreciation for creativity built upon a concrete business foundation creates this millennial’s dynamic presence in the digital world. Jake may be a dreamer, but studies have shown he is not the only one. Find him on Twitter here.
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