[Editor's note: OutriggerHawaii recently invited Roxanne Darling, social media expert, to share her thoughts on "traveling with social media." Happily, she agreed to share her wisdom. This is what she had to say.]
Perhaps one of the most enduring vacation sentiments from times past that persists today is "Wish you were here!" It used to be emblazoned on post cards; now it fills email and text messages as well as Facebook pages. With the free tools of the social web though, you can now bring your friends and family along with you as virtual companions.
Here are a few of my favorite sharing tools that work from anywhere with an internet connection. A vacation is a great time to start playing with social networking, especially if you've been confused about what to say once you set up a Twitter account or a blog.
Twitter (www.twitter.com) is a free service that lets you post short messages to the internet from your phone or computer. You can set your account to public or private; most people use public, just remember that anyone can read your postings! In just 140 "characters" (that is a combination of letters, numbers, spaces, and punctuation marks) you can provide a running commentary of your travel adventures.
It takes almost no time at all to do this, and with just five to six messages a day, you truly can convey the little moments of your trip that often create the most lasting memories. Create an account at www.twitpic.com after you create your Twitter account and you can attach photos to your messages too. Twitpic will give you a unique email address; just add that to your address book on your phone and you can email pics as they are being created.
Here are a few samples I pulled from a search on Twitter for the word "Hawaii" to give you some ideas:
"GoVisitHawaii: What a difference rain makes to Hawaii's waterfalls: http://bit.ly/8yXok (By the way, the name of that falls is Pe'epe'e"
"Prima_voce: http://twitpic.com/e5j7q - Snorkeling @ Puako Bay - West Hawaii, Big Island"
If you are planning travel to Hawaii, be sure to check out our site, InHawaiiNow.com. You'll see real time updates from real people living and working here in Hawaii. You can meet the locals and see what's up, 24 hours a day. You can follow me on Twitter @roxannedarling and be sure to follow OutriggerHawaii, too, @outriggerhawaii.
You can create a free blog in less than five minutes at www.wordpress.com. Your vacation is a good time to start a personal blog, or, you might want to create a blog that is exclusive to this vacation. If you are traveling with friends or family, you can let them each be an "author" and take turns posting stories, pictures, and videos from your trip away from home. These "multi-author" blogs are fun to read, as readers each get a different perspective, sometimes on the same event and sometimes on multiple events.
There is no limit to how many free blogs you can create. So why not try it out on your next sojourn? Not only does it let you share your trip with others, but it gives you a permanent diary of your experience. Be sure to include those key travel details that are easy to forget years later: the names and website links for all of your favorite places. I wish I had done this when I went to Bali in 1997. I was sending a lot of email from my Newton, Apple's precursor to the Palm Pilot. Now I find myself trying to track down scraps of paper or re-looking things up online to try to remember where I stayed. (Yes, I want to go back!)
YouTube and Video
Yes, you, too, can post videos to YouTube! It is so easy, especially if you have a Flip camera and an Apple computer. The Flip fits in your pocket and automatically "transcodes" the video when you plug it into your computer via the USB connection. If you have the free iMovie software on a Mac, you can add in a little editing, then with one click, upload the movie to your free YouTube account.
Once there, remember to grab the "embed" code next to each episode and post it on your blog! If a picture is worth a thousand words, a movie is certainly priceless.
Video Tips: If you are shooting outdoors, be sure to shield the microphone from the wind as best you can. For capturing voice comments, hold the camera as close as possible. If you are the underwater or outdoors type, you might consider the waterproof Sanyo Xacti. It's only slightly larger than the Flip and is not afraid of getting wet.
If you want to learn more about a place before you travel, check out the local video podcasts. Our show is Beach Walks with Rox (www.beachwalks.tv) and I also recommend the Hawaii Surf Sessions Report (http://surfsessionreport.com). In Hawaii, just everybody surfs now and then, so start connecting with the waves now. I hope to see you online or in person soon!
Roxanne Darling is one of Hawaii's social media evangelists. Find her in the water and just about everywhere online. (Her business: www.barefeetstudios.com and her internet TV show: www.beachwalks.tv)