Most travelers practice due diligence when planning a vacation. They knuckle down, hit the guide books and the Internet to plan all the details of their trip.
Fodors, Frommers, Lonely Planet, Rick Steves and Zagat are just a few of the big go-to names for travelers to research their intended destinations. These are great places to start- to get info on attractions, hotels and restaurants, but I don’t totally rely on these.
Think about it. If you are a paid reviewer that works for one of these publications and arrive to announce yourself as such, you are probably going to get the royal treatment. Staff and owners will pull out all the stops and roll out the red carpet to ensure that reviewer has a very positive experience.
But what about the little guy? The average Joe, like you and me? How will we know what our experience will be?
I recommend that you check out sites with reviews from real travelers. Here are my Top 5.
5. I Go You Go. They have been around since 2000. Over 350,000 travelers contribute here on over 5,500 destinations. That’s alot of possibilities!! The site has won several travel awards and as a bonus, travelers are encouraged to give reviews in return for GO points, which can be redeemed for gift certificates.
4. Real Travel. This site claims to help more than half a million travelers plan their trips every month. It has more of a community feel to it, as travelers share stories about their experiences. Frommer’s guide adds to the content for the 3,500 destinations worldwide on the site. You can also create your own free travel blog.
3. Yelp. I have to be honest, my sister turned me onto this one, and I love it! This one just covers the US. Here you can find locals reviews on everything from restaurants to nightlife to shopping. Since July of 2004 it has been real people, writing real reviews. It is a fun site!
2. Virtual Tourist. Boasting 1 million registered members from more than 220 countries, this site has been around since 1998. The over 1.5 million travel tips in 58,000 destinations are organized by category- there is even a Tourist Trap category (I love that). You can use the forum or click on a review to find out more about a member; even email them if you need to. I’ve done that and gotten some great help here!
1. Trip Advisor. Real advice from real travelers is the motto. The most well known of all the sites, the ticker on it’s main page announces over 23,000,000 travelers planned trips this week alone. With over 7 million registered members and 15 million reviews, it’s popular and chock full of information! Worldwide traveler reviews, a forum, free newsletter and traveler photos abound. I never book a hotel or B&B without consulting the reviews here. And I have met some very nice folks through the forums, many of whom are still my friends.
So tell me readers, what are your favorite real traveler review sites? I love finding new ones that I don’t know about. Please share!
Now, head over to Cherrye’s to find out what 5 things not to wear on the plane!