I Think Of TikTok As My Travel Best Friend: How Gen Z Is Using The App To Plan Their Holidays

With over one billion active users TikTok has a bit of something for everyone and young travellers are taking advantage to get insider advice and recommendations for their holidays.

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Holiday planning is an art. But from studying detailed guidebooks to scouring travel articles, it can also be a research intensive activity. So what if you could simply rock up to a new city or country, pop in a few words into your phone and get your day planned out in a few minutes?

Well that’s exactly what a lot of young people are now doing through TikTok.

Why are people using TikTok for travel recommendations?

“I think of TikTok as my travel best friend,” says 24-year-old social media manager Gilleesa Gillen. “It’s so good for finding recommendations for places to have lunch, dinner, brunch, breakfast, drinks, events happening that maybe when you Google a place they’re just showing you sponsored ads.”

She says she uses it on all her trips and it has brought her to places she would have never otherwise found.

“I was staying with my friend who lives in Paris and I found this speakeasy bar on TikTok and I took her there. She couldn’t believe she’d been walking past this bar for so long because it looks like a grocery shop from the outside. She’s been taking her husband and friends there ever since.”

Is TikTok being used as a search engine?

Gilleesa is not alone. An American survey by Adobe earlier this year found that over two in five TikTok users treat the app as a search engine. Of those, 20 per cent have searched for travel destinations or experiences and 19 per cent for new restaurants.

This number is even higher when broken down into age groups. 64 per cent of Gen Z and 49 per cent of millennials say they have used the app as a search engine.

This surge of travellers to the platform is something the social media giant wants to capitalise on.

“71 per cent of European TikTok users intentionally search for travel content on TikTok, and 77 per cent of users are inspired to visit a destination, or even purchase a travel-related product, after discovering it on TikTok,” Stuart Flint, Head of Global Business Solutions for Europe at TikTok, tells Euronews Travel.

In a speech at the ITB tourism fair in Berlin this week, he said that people are drawn to TikTok creators’ authenticity because they will show both the good and bad sides of a travel experience.

How can I use TikTok to plan my holiday?

If you’ve never done it before, finding recommendations on TikTok is fairly straightforward.

“I’ll combine the place name with something like ‘travel’ or ‘itinerary’ and then things that I want to do,” says Gillen. “If I want to see if there’s any thrift shops or flea markets, I could put something like ‘New York thrift shops’ and see what comes up. Or if I want to discover the countryside in Turkey, I’d put ‘Turkey countryside itinerary’.”

For budget-savvy travellers she also recommends searching for a place name with ‘free things to do’ to get inspiration that won’t break the bank.

These searches will bring up loads of videos that you can watch to see if you like the look of a place before checking it out yourself.

If you’re overwhelmed by the choices on offer, Gillen recommends looking at the amount of times users have saved the video and to double check a potential activity or restaurant through Google reviews or other research.

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