Facebook for Travelers

Even Bud Travel has a Facebook profile

The site is good for more than connecting with friends. New travel tools make it easy to blog, upload photos, and plan your trip.

There's been a lot of talk about social networking lately, and Facebook--with 46 million users (and growing)--is the site of the moment. But Facebook can be handy for more than listing favorite movies and connecting with friends.

In May, the company began allowing partners to develop applications for the site. These are free mini programs (such as the Traveler IQ Challenge quiz and TripAdvisor's Cities I've Visited map) that you can add to your profile.

One of the most useful ones is Trips, developed by SideStep. After you create a Trip, you and your fellow travelers (who need not be Facebook users) can post comments, links, and itinerary ideas; participate in discussion groups; and upload photos. Need advice? A feature called Popular Destinations shows you where friends in your network like to go. Trips also plots on a map where you've been and where you're headed.

Lots of websites help you create a blog, but some (such as travelblog.org and travelpod.com) go further by letting you integrate it into your Facebook profile. You still have to write the entries and upload photos on the blog sites themselves, but then they're published automatically in your Facebook profile.

To get started, you have to join the site (it's free). Click on Applications, and then on Browse More Applications. There's a category devoted to travel. One caveat: Facebook applications vary in quality. Look for user reviews and find out who developed each one. You can always remove apps if they're not working out.

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