by Heather Lochner

Raise your hand if you are on Facebook or Twitter. And raise your other hand, if you make somewhat regular status updates on either site. And what about 4square? Do you check-in there and have that posted to your social media accounts?

Sure, we all like to keep friends, family, and tweeps up-to-date on what we’re doing and where we’re doing it. We post pictures, share interesting links, and broadcast our opinions and thoughts.

But step back for a moment. If you are on Facebook, is your site locked down? In other words, is your security as tight as can be or can ‘non-friends’ read and see all about you?

All too often I stumble upon a Facebook page where I can gather a ton of information on the person – their birth date, their phone number, and even they city they live in.  So imagine, if your status says “Loving life on the beach” and attached is a photo of you on holiday. Or if you are on Twitter and you say, “Family is all at the airport – we are heading out for a weeklong vacation”.

Think for a second, what did I, a total stranger, just learn about you? You just told me you are away. And yes, I may be paranoid, but I never post on Facebook or Twitter that my house is empty. I share after the fact, when I am home.

That is just a small social media tip I tend to follow.

I do use the internet and blogs for travel research. I love visiting www.tripadvisor.com to read reviews on the city I want to explore or the resort I want to stay in. I know they are people’s opinions, but so far I have not been let down by reading the comments. I also buy travel apps for my phone – ones that give me information on the destination and what’s not to be missed. And I frequently visit the site www.havebabywilltravel.com, where fabulous tips are shared on travelling with kids.

I have also used both Facebook and Twitter to find out information about destinations. Just a few months back, I asked on Twitter, “Does anyone have a recommendation on where to stay in Cuba with kids?” You would never believe the response I got. People shared and shared their favourite and not-so-favourite hot spots. I also learned that Cuba has very limited internet access (kinda nice to go black from time-to-time and not be constantly plugged in).

So, just be careful how you use social media when headed away from home. Think before you post.

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