Foursquare: The Traveler’s Dilemna

Tuesday, February 16, 2010’s taken up the Foursquare debate (noting the Frugal Traveler’s kind-of endorsement) on how useful this location-based social networking phone application is for travel. (In English, it’s a tool that tells people what restaurant/bar/attraction you’re at, and allows you to leave and read tips/reviews about that location).

But how useful is this kind of app for travelers? Would you really be able to plan much using it? How helpful are the tips/comments given its user-generated aspect? How many people outside a few major metropolitan locations are really using this thing?

I admit, I use it here in New York for probably no better reason than to kill a few seconds while I’m heading to the bathroom or waiting for a drink. Has it helped me find any great deals or discover any great new locations? Not yet, but perhaps down the road.

In its defense, what’s better during traveling than discovering a new restaurant or local hangout? I love trying to blend into the rhythms of a destination, and I like Foursquare’s ability to tell you what’s “trending” at that moment (where a lot of users are “checking in”), giving a newbie the inside as to the neighborhood’s hot locale. A great resource for those who love discovering local hot spots.

How likely am I to lug my iPhone around while traveling just to be able to pull up this app? Eh. I’ve found that the best ways to find the best places around is to ask real people. You know, people whom you can look in the eyes and carry out a conversation with. I guarantee they’ll have some great recommendations, tips, and insights, and I promise, they’ll have a very low likelihood of causing you to incur roaming fees.

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