A roundup of travel chats hosted on Twitter

Hashtags. If you are on Twitter, then you have seen plenty of tweets accompanied by hashtags. A hashtag provides context to a tweet, enables tweeters to rally around a cause, as well as allows others to find tweets more easily in a search.

As Twitter has evolved, hashtags have become integral to following events and conversations. The utility of hashtags has also made it possible for groups of people with common interests to come together for daily, weekly, or monthly discussions. This has certainly been the case for travel enthusiasts, many of whom have created several hashtag talks on Twitter. If you’d like to get in on the many travel conversations on Twitter, read on as we break down the best ways to get talking about travel 140 characters at a time.#TNI
The pioneer of travel talks on Twitter, #TNI, which stands for Travelers’ Night In, was created by the ladies of ZipSetGo.com (@zipsetgo). Each Thursday at 3:30 EST, #TNI begins with a question centered around the week’s theme and continues with 10 questions tweeted out from the #TNI hosts approximately every 10 minutes. Topics have ranged from geographical subjects, such as California, to travel genres, such as adventure travel. #TNI discussions are quick, usually funny, and often enlightening for the travel information that they impart. When it’s all over, one of the members of ZipSetGo writes up a summary of that week’s discussion for the website, highlighting the best and/or wittiest answers.

Because #TNI has become such a phenomenon among travel folks on Twitter, tourism boards and PR firms often work with ZipSetGo to set a theme and provide prizes. #TNI has also become a hashtag that travel tweeters use to share their content or ask a question.

“Travel Talk on Twitter” or #TTOT was started by Melvin Boecher of Traveldudes.org as a way to “have a travel event on Twitter…that [doesn’t] get dominated by sponsors who pay for it.” #TTOT works similarly to #TNI, however. The talk takes place on Tuesdays at both 9:30am and 9:30pm GMT and is based around a theme chosen from questions posted on the TTOT Facebook page. Also like #TNI, #TTOT has become a catchall hashtag for travel-related tweets and questions.

I’ve been following travel topics on Twitter since I joined in March 2009 and #MexMonday is the only country-specific hashtag with its own day that has any sort of staying power. Twitter user @traveldesigned began #MexMonday in September 2009 in order to promote tourism to Mexico in light of the bad press stemming from drug crime and the H1N1 virus in that country. Each Monday, Mexico aficionados tweet out content, photos, and questions using the #MexMonday hashtag.

Tuesdays became all about travel the day that tweeter @whereivebeen began using the #TravelTuesday hashtag. Rather than being a travel discussion, #TravelTuesday, often shortened to #TT, has become a way for persons on Twitter to give a shout-out to those who provide useful travel tweets. In other words, #TravelTuesday is very much like Twitter’s most famous hashtag #FollowFriday.

If beaches are your thing, then Thursday is the time to drop in on Twitter to follow the #BeachThursday hashtag. Twitterer @isabellestravel, the blogger behind Isabelles Travel Guide, started #BeachThursday while daydreaming about the beach on a dreary Thursday afternoon. Now anyone who wants to learn more about beaches or share seaside photos can find like-minded travelers every Thursday on Twitter.

It’s Friday. You’re ready for the weekend and you need something to distract you as you count down the hours. Enter #FriFotos. Organized by Jonathan Epstein of @epsteintravels, #FriFotos is the chance for travelers to show off their best travel photos based on themes, which have ranged from animals to world capitals to stone. #FriFotos is open to everyone from amateur photogs sharing blog posts or Flickr photos to professional photographers tweeting out links to portfolio shots. Always fans of big, bold photos, our friends at the Huffington Post provide information on each week’s #FriFotos theme and you can also follow @epsteintravels, @kirstenalana, or @hotelprguy on Twitter for the #FriFotos scoop.

In addition to these well-known Twitter talks, you may also be interested in following #WineWednesday which often pairs travel with terroir, and #NUTS (“Not-so Usual Therapy Session”), in which, according to host @midliferoadtrip, the “primary focus is food, travel and adventure.”

Of course, new travel talks are popping up all the time on Twitter, so stay tuned to @gadling for the latest. Better yet, follow all of Gadling’s bloggers by subscribing to the Gadling Bloggers list. Happy tweeting!

Photo / Flickr user danmoyle

What is “Travelers Night In”?

Every Thursday from 3:30-5:00 EST, Twitter users who love travel come together for Travelers Night In (TNI) to chat about the latest and greatest of the travel world. Each week, TNI tackles a different theme, and for those 90 minutes, the hosts of TNI discuss the theme with participants. Past themes have included Winter Destinations, Adventure Travel, and Mexico/Caribbean travel. This week’s theme is City Travel, and next week’s theme is Travel for Foodies.

How does it work?

The process is simple: the hosts of TNI ask one question every 10 minutes for the 90 minutes of the event. Participants respond with answers, questions, tips, etc. Each Tweet should include #TNI, so it’s easy for followers to track. If you forget to include #TNI in your Tweet, it’s likely that comment will be lost.

The process is very democratic. It is NOT 90 minutes of hosts lecturing to participants. Quite the opposite! In reality, the hosts throw out questions and keep the conversation moving, but participants do the bulk of the knowledge sharing.

How can I participate?
How you participate is ultimately up to you, of course, but you can easily join in by loading your Twitter page (or your Tweetdeck, or your Hootsuite, or…) and searching for #TNI.Warning: hundreds of people show up online for this event, and Twitter and many third-party Twtitter apps can’t load replies quickly enough. Power users suggest using Tweetgrid — we’ve created a custom Tweetgrid for you here — which allows you to enter search keywords of interest for you. In this case, we suggest using, at a minimum, search keywords #TNI and probably your Twitter handle. You can add other phrases that interest you, if you like.

I’m not on Twitter.
It’s ok! You can still use Tweetgrid (or Twitter’s built-in search functions) to follow the conversation, but you won’t be able to contribute to the discussion. Maybe this is a good time for you to join Twitter? It’s easy (and free) to get an account, and without a Twitter account, you can’t participate. Sign up, and join the conversation.

(If you join Twitter, be sure to follow Gadling!)

I can’t participate. Will you please stop Tweeting so much?
Gadling is honored to have hosted TNI several times, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s great to interact with a community that loves travel, and it’s great to learn travel tips from such a seasoned community of travelers. We learn something every week, and that’s our favorite thing about TNI.

Occasionally, we get comments over Twitter about how we’re tweeting too heavily during TNI. To this, we have to say:

1.) The point of Twitter is to engage, so if you’re unhappy that we’re engaging with readers and followers, we’re sorry, but maybe you should go back to using RSS. However, we think we’re using Twitter in a smart, creative way, so we ask that you forgive (or ignore) us for these 90 minutes of Twitterrhea.

2.) If you understand that Twitter is about engagement, but you still hate that we “flood” your timeline, please understand: TNI is only 90 minutes per week. The rest of the week, we try hard to be conservative, and interesting, and not flood timelines with silly or irrelevant non-travel Tweets. We don’t love flooded timelines, either — but we understand and forgive when there are good reasons for said flooding.

Where can I learn more?

  • If you’d like to learn more about the founders of TNI, head over to ZipSetGo and see what they have to say about TNI.
  • For further reading, check out Adventurous Kate’s blog, where she does a TNI recap most weeks.
  • Join us this Thursday starting at 3:30EST and see what other travel-lovers have to say about City Travel. See you there!