Whenever I’m planning a trip, I make extensive use of TripAdvisor.com to figure out which hotel I want to stay in, what interesting things I want to put on my to do list and how to handle some of the finer points of logistics of traveling.
For instance, when I planned my trip to Maui last year, I read many complimentary reviews and critical reviews of the property I was interested in staying at. TripAdvisor even has a way to filter out reviews for travelers who are similar to you. I generally check out what Families have to say since that is who I am usually traveling with. A business traveler often has different needs — for instance, no requirements for a kid friendly pool or activities! I also noticed that they have added “Time of Year” as a filter since that is also critical–high season travel will often be crowded and you want to know if the resort has sufficient amenities to accommodate all travelers!
Another great feature of TripAdvisor is the FORUMS! I love being able to ask other travelers questions and I’ve picked up some amazing tips here. For instance, one of the most memorable parts of my trip to Italy was visiting the Vatican. It was in the forums that I learned about the Scavi tour, a little known underground tour of the Vatican catacombs. This was an amazing experience and one that I would have never read about in a guidebook.
I’ve also been able to ask on the forums about how train strikes work in Europe. Again, on our trip to Italy, train personnel were scheduled to strike on a particular day. We were scheduled to travel to Switzerland on that day and I was wondering if the train would make it to Switzerland or if it would stop at the specified time, or if they would stop at the closest station and walk off the job. The wonderful contributors on the forums assured me that my train would make it to Switzerland and it did!
I always try to write up a review of the hotel I stayed in — particularly if I’m able to help out another traveler. I just feel like its a great way to pay it back to the community that helped make my trip a success!