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TripAdvisor launches traveler network

It's happened to all of us. The moment you return home from a vacation, one of your friends asks, "Oh, did you happen to eat at the hole-in-the-wall restaurant with the completely unique, can't-get-it-anywhere-else entree that it turns out was only two blocks from your hotel?" It's just one of those things, and the best you can do is take notes for the next time you visit. Unfortunately, it's not possible to ask everyone you know for advice on your upcoming trip, hopefully finding the one person who has actually been there.

Or is it?

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TripAdvisor, the world's largest travel community (and yes, the parent company of SmarterTravel.com), debuted its new traveler network, which makes it possible to find that one friend who can give you step-by-step directions to that oasis of a restaurant.

With the network, you can build a free community of trusted friends and reliable sources you can tap for travel advice. But instead of spamming everyone you know with emails, you'll know who's been where by checking each person's interactive map, which allows users to display all the places they've traveled with other members.

Christine Petersen, senior vice president of marketing for TripAdvisor, says, "With more than six million members, you'll be amazed how many people you know are already on TripAdvisor and you'll be even more surprised by all the places they've been and the knowledge they can share."

You can also write reviews and read your friends' travel woes and wins. TripAdvisor provides more than 10 million travel reviews and opinions, so even if someone you know can't provide information, there's always a way to research your upcoming trip.

In today's ever-shrinking world, online communities are becoming a popular way to socialize. The benefit of knowing where others have been and sharing in those experiences is the essence of why we travel in the first place, and TripAdvisor has now created a way to capture just that.

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