Screenshot of Sheila's Round Rock TX Gowalla Trip

(Update: Gowalla was bought by Facebook and shut down, so none of its links work anymore. I was sad to see it go.)

I’ve been experimenting on my new smartphone with location-based services like Gowalla and Foursquare, and have begun leaning hard towards Gowalla as my favorite of the two, particularly since it led me to pies in Houston.

The “killer app” for tourism with Gowalla is the Trips feature; anyone can create a Trip of favorite sights or attractions around a town or region, plus Gowalla has partnered to make branded Trips with organizations like National Geographic, Vail Resorts, the Austin American-Statesman (here’s their Off-Leash Dog Parks, a great idea for visitors and locals alike) and the European Green Capital of Stockholm.

When you boot up Gowalla on your smartphone and select Trips, it shows you nearby Trips based on your location, which it knows from your smartphone’s GPS. I always saw lots of Austin Trips, but nothing for the town where I actually live about 20 miles north: Round Rock.

So, I decided to make my own Trip. Anyone can make up to 10 of them.

Here’s how to do it….

  • Decide what would make a good Trip for visitors or locals in your area. Think about a theme and some prospective candidates for checkins. Your downtown walking tour that already exists? Local food places? Historical sites?
  • Go to the Trips frontpage on Gowalla, and look to the right side for a big long oval “Create Your Trip” button.
  • Fill in the blocks for “Trip Name” and pick the type of Trip from the drop-down menu. There are lots of options. If you have a bunch of different places of different types (like I did for my first Trip) pick Standard.  There are special badges for each.
  • Follow the directions:  write up the Trip Details (keep it punchy and succinct – it will mostly be read on smartphone screens) then start picking places by either finding them through Gowalla’s Search or looking at places where you’ve already checked in.
  • If you can’t find a Spot, create it yourself! Here are some guidelines for creating a Spot.
  • When you get to the descriptive page for your desired Spot, look to the right at the drop-downs for Actions. One of the options is “Add to Trip,” so do that.
  • Keep going until you have a reasonable number of places added to your Trip. You must have at least 3 but no more than 20. You can edit the descriptions of Spots in your Trip.
  • Polish it up and publish, then put the link on your websites, Facebook Page, announce it on Twitter, etc.

I’m working on a second Trip now, with local places where I like to eat (it will have the Foodie badge.)

Branded badges with your logo require graphics assistance through Gowalla; email Team Gowalla directly at businesses {at} to discuss.

It’s that easy; go jump in!

(Update: I’ve since figured out that my Trip can only be seen on the phone app by people that I’m friends with on Gowalla, although anyone can see it on the main Gowalla website. This is rather problematic since I’m only connecting with people that I really, really feel that I know on location-based services like Gowalla, for obvious security reasons.  I would think that for branded trips by a CVB, coordinated through Gowalla, it would be a little looser, but I’m not certain. More investigation to follow.)