For a long time I resisted all forms of social media. In my mind, it seemed like a waste of time (not to mention an invasion of privacy). After many years of fighting it, I finally gave in and opened a Facebook account. Much to my surprise I enjoyed the interaction with friends and past acquaintances. I quickly learned that privacy was only an issue if I made it an issue. In other words, I could choose to share as much, or as little, as I wanted.
When I began traveling full-time in an RV, it quickly became apparent that social media could enhance my travels.
I started connecting with my fellow RVers through their Facebook pages, Instagram and Twitter accounts. I joined Facebook groups where I gleaned advice from seasoned travelers and learned about new places to camp.
Today I embrace social media as a way to make make connections (both online and in person), learn new things while on the road, and share my experiences with others.
If you are a reluctant social media user like I was, come along for the journey. You might just change your mind.
Facebook for RVers
My first foray into social media as it related to RV travel was to “like” the pages of my favorite travel blogs and travel related websites. Not only is this a great way to keep up with the places people go and what they do there, but it’s an easy way to reach out to other travelers by commenting on their stories and sending direct messages.
Eventually I set up my own Facebook Page under the same name as my travel blog.
I wanted to share travel stories and pictures, but didn’t necessarily want to do it on my personal Facebook profile.
It was incredibly easy to set up. I simply logged into Facebook, hovered my mouse over the down arrow at the top right of the page and clicked “Create Page”. Facebook then walked me through a few simple steps to create the page.
You don’t need to have a travel blog or website to create a Facebook page. Anyone can set up a Facebook page. The main difference between a page and a personal profile is that instead of people requesting to be your friend, they like your page. This shifts the experience from personal to public, and is a great way to reach out to strangers and other travelers who you have not yet met.
A Facebook page works much like your personal Facebook profile. You can share status updates, photos, and links to articles. On my page I post links to my recent blog posts, along with photos and updates of our current travels.
Over the years my Facebook page has become not only a way for me to reach out to other travelers, but also a way for them to reach out to me.
Anyone can post on my page or send me a private massage. This feature has lead to numerous conversations and face-to-face meetings. On more than one occasion I have received a Facebook message from someone who saw my latest update, figured out that we were in the same area, and requested a meet up.
Learn and communicate with Facebook Groups
Beyond sharing travel photos and stories, Facebook is also a great way to learn from other travelers.
Facebook Groups create a place for those with similar interests to discuss and share ideas, photos, and stories. There are countless RV and travel related Facebook Groups that you can join. Some are general RV groups such as:
While others are specific to certain RV brands or RVing lifestyles:
- Airstream Addicts
- Tiffin RV Travelers
- RV Fifth Wheels
- Family RV Adventures
- RV Singles
- RV Healthy Eating
- RV Parks
Some Facebook Groups are open and some are closed. If you want to participate in a closed Group, you’ll need to ask permission to join. I would encourage you not to be shy. If you come across a closed group that looks interesting, simply click on the +Join Group button. Most closed groups are only trying to keep out spammers, and they’re most welcoming to new members.
Instagram for RVers
If Facebook is all about sharing information, then Instagram is all about sharing inspiration. This simple photo sharing site allows users to post their own photos and view photos others have posted. Similar to Facebook, you can “like” and comment on the photos.
Instagram can be as social, or as anti-social as you make it.
You can create a private account where the only people who see your photos are those who you approve as followers, or you can make your account public and put it out there for all the world to see.
My very favorite thing about Instagram is the immediacy of it. As the name suggests, most Instagram photos are posted only minutes after they are taken.
This not only allows users to share and view events as they happen, but it goes a long way towards encouraging in-person connections.
For example, one day we arrived at a state park in Colorado and I posted a pretty picture of our site. Within minutes I got a comment that said, “I think we are at the same campground. If so we are in site 13 if you want to stop by.” We did indeed stop by, and quickly made some new friends that we ended up hanging out with all week – and still keep in touch with today.
I make an effort to post often and always use the “name this location” option along with a hashtag (#) or two so other users know where I am.
I’m always surprised how often others jump in and add bits of advice and recommendations for my current travel location.
Instagram is a major source of inspiration for me. I love seeing where other people travel and find myself gathering tons of ideas. Here are some of my favorite Instagram accounts:
- Where’s Andrew
- The Planet D
- Everything Everywhere
- Mali Mish Airstream
- Where is Kyle Now
- Idle Theory Bus
- Alison Travels
One final note about Instagram: This is an app that you need to download onto your phone or tablet (it can found in both the Apple and Android app stores). You can only post to Instagram from a mobile device. However, if you only want to look at photos and not share any of your own, you can visit instagram.com on your computer. Keep in mind that without an account you won’t be able to interact with other users.
Twitter for RVers
I’m going to admit right away that Twitter is my least favorite social media platform. It’s probably because I will never master the art of crafting witty comments and observations in 140 characters or less.
I do have a Twitter account though, and while I don’t post on it very often, I have figured out how to use it to enhance my travels.
My method is to follow the Twitter accounts of those who post information I deem useful for my travels. For example, we spent this past winter in Florida traveling around to a number of different state parks. I started following Florida State Parks on Twitter, and as a result was privy to much more up to date and useful information than if I had simply visited their website.
I’ve used this method all around the country, and find it especially useful for the national and public parks. Here are a few that I like:
Are you convinced yet?
So have I convinced you to join the masses and jump on the social media bandwagon? As you can see, the benefits of social media are directly related to how you choose to use these platforms. You can participate fully or simply watch and lurk. 🙂
No matter how you use social media, I think you’ll quickly find that fellow travelers are eager to connect and share useful information with you – and make your travel experience that much better.