Vacationing in Facebook – Travel Maps and Many New Apps

It used to be that travel and vacations meant t-shirts and cheesy souvenirs. But with Facebook, you can tell your friends about your trip without all the ugly schwag. Currently, there are over 60 applications in the Facebook Application Directory in the Travel Category. We’ve sifted through dozens of them and found the best.

where2.pngThe most popular travel application on Facebook is Where I’ve Been by Craig Ulliott. As the name suggests, the app lets you quickly build a map of places you’ve traveled to and display the map on your profile page. After installing, you’re prompted to select countries, states, provinces, regions where you’ve traveled on a world map created in Flash. While the map is large and easy to access, using the three screens to zoom and move around does present some difficulty. When you’re clicking on countries, each click toggles between blue, green and red, representing that you’ve visited, wanted to visit or have lived there. (These colors are not that well defined and initially it can be confusing why the colors keep changing with each click.)

Once you’ve selected your regions, the application installs a smaller map on your profile page for all your friends to see where you’ve been. You can also compare your map with your friends’ maps and see who’s really been to more places. “Where I’ve Been” is the clear winner in the travel map category.

A close second is Cities I’ve Visited by TripAdvisor.com. Instead of selecting the geographic regions, you select individual cities, and pins are placed on the map for each city that you’ve visited. The selection process is quick, and you can choose between popular cities or the list on the travel map. The map also automatically zooms and aligns to include all the cities that you’ve visited. We were surprised that more features were not included to tell your friends about your trips.

There are many applications similar to Where I’ve Been and Cities I’ve Visited that require you to create an account on the application developer’s website, and some even require that build your travel map in their interface. You should skip these clones and stick with these two applications if you want to show your friends how worldly you are.

journey.pngTo plan future trips or to tell people specifically about past trips, you need move beyond the travel map applications. One of the easiest trip-specific applications is the Journey Miles application by Chris Poe. The application lets you describe past trips in great detail, create a trip map using Google maps, and even lets you link to a Facebook Photo Album related to the trip. You can also schedule trips in the future, invite your friends and see who is in for the summer road trip to the beach.

One of the older and more popular trip focused application is the Trips application by SideStep.com. One disappointment with this application is the “Invite all your friends screen”. You need to carefully skip this screen or you’re going to be that guy/girl that spams his/her friends with application invites. Once you install Trips, it’s easy to create past trips and describe them in great detail. You can also include future trips and invite your friends, almost like the Facebook Event interface. Overall, it’s a solid application that just needs a few updates.

hostels.pngFor people actually traveling or planning an immediate trip, there are two hostel applications that you can use research hostel locations if you’re a hostel person. Hostels by Hostelbook.com lets you read and write reviews on Hostels you’ve stayed at or are considering and even make a reservation with Hostels. The Hostel application by Bukpak lets you see research Hostels in different cities and also includes pricing at each location. It would be good to see a combination of these two functions as they both add value to travelers.

And if you really need to visit a friend there is Flight Finder by SmarterTravel.com. This application lets you select a friend and choose some travel dates to be presented with flight options from the SmartTravel.com site. Your friend’s hometown is automatically current inside the Flight Finder application. All flights are displayed in a separate window on the SmartTravel.com site; the experience would be much better in the Facebook environment.

Lastly, if you’re overseas and want to know the local currency conversion, the Currency Converter application by Oanda will provide real-time currency conversion exchange rates for most major currencies.

[tags]facebook,travel,apps,maps,best[/tags]