Knowledge is power. But does the journey of discovery become less exciting because of knowing? Ask yourself that question. In this day of the Internet and burgeoning publishing houses, there is information available round the clock or round the corner. Though travel guides are a fantastic way to get an idea of what your destination has on offer, they have a tendency to take the spontaneity out of travel. If you have time on your hands, get into slow travel. Shuck the guidebook. Bring out the inner guide. Here are a few pros and cons of using travel reviews.
Thumbs up to…
Making informed travel choices:
What does one do while in Cuba? Or on a Greek Isle? Pardon the pun, but here’s where guidebooks come handy. Information makes travel really easy in less accessible travel destinations such as islands or during offbeat activities such as treks, hikes etc. Through reviews you can stay informed and know what to pack well in advance.
Reviews are a great source for understanding guidelines and taking travel safety into consideration. Reviews make travel so much more safe for everyone. Knowing hi-crime neighborhoods will help you prevent brining unsavory elements into your travel experience. Reviews also help you avoid scams. Most guidebooks as well as travel forums list a number of hotspots where conmen abound. Reviews on hotels, travel special deals, cruises etc, help you see through the packages for what they really are and help you stay away from countless scams.
Pressed for time. Have just two days in a place you’ve always wanted to visit? Then this is your cue to open that guidebook. Therefore, for travel in shorter timeframes, like a stopover in a city for a day or two, travel reviews are a godsend, allowing you to easily identify and earmark things to do and places to visit. Visiting Rome for a day and want to visit the hotspots? Give a quick look through the guidebook and make sure you fit in the Colosseum and St.Peter’s Basilica into your schedule.
Thumbs down to…
A lack of spontaneity:
Rush to the Eiffel tower. Be there early to avoid serpentine lines waiting to go to the top. Head to the Louvre. Stand in a long queue to catch a glimpse of the Mona Lisa. Rush to the Arc de Triomphe. Oh no! Notre Dame seems to be closing by 6, make a dash before the gates shut. At the end of a busy day of traveling, how do you actually feel? Fatigued or fulfilled. Travel is supposed to be a journey. And no journey should be rigid. In your rush to get to the top of the Eiffel tower, did you take a stroll in its sprawling green lawns or sat and ate a baguette under a shady bough? In your rush to see the Mona Lisa, did you fail to notice the splendor of the Louvre, which houses countless priceless artifacts other than this one single painting? An over-reliance on reviews sadly leads to a loss spontaneous travel. Rigidity sets in while travelers pre-determine where they eat and what they do and the element of casual travel is taken out of the equation.
Too much choice:
There a review for everything. From B&Bs, diners, fancy restaurants, taxi services, to bike rentals, guides, cruises and package tours, pretty much everything has been opined on. An abundance of reviews results in travelers being burdened with too much information, which actually makes it harder for them to make objective and specific choices.
Testing the truth:
How true are they? Reviews tend to either oversimplify or put places on a pedestal. Most of the times it is very tough to find an objective review online since pretty much anyone is allowed to have a view. Hotels and travel agencies sometimes ‘hire’ people to write glowing reviews, regardless of the services being offered. The five star luxury hotel that looks fantastic on screen with a great description to boot, may turn out to be a small two star establishment tucked away in the middle of nowhere. So either look before you take that leap of faith, or do your research after arriving at your destination. Sometimes local recommendations can get you fabulous deals.
Tia Jones loves all things Travel & Technology. She’s a blogger who contributes articles on Travel Tips, Technology and Grand Canyon Attractions for National Geographic’s ExploretheCanyon.com. Feel free to follow Tia on Twitter @GrandCanyonNGVC and like Grand Canyon National Geographic Visitor Center on Facebook.