TripAdvisor.com is a great tool when searching for possible vacation destinations. If you don’t already know, it is a travel review site with the reviews solely submitted by unaffiliated travelers just like yourself. However, because it is an un-edited review site, you cannot take each and every review as gospel. I’ve used TripAdvisor.com on many an occasion to decide on a resort or simply a hotel. The following are some tips on how to use TripAdvisor.com to find the location best suited to your tastes, tolerances and budget.
- You need to determine what is fair value for the money you are willing to spend. A cottage in the Muskoka Lakes, north of Toronto, can go for $2000 to $3500 per week in the summer time and you get no swim-up bar, no maid, no buffet or bar all-inclusive 24 hours per day. How much pampering should $1000 actually buy you when airfare, room, airport transfers, unlimited food and drink and entertainment are included?
- You need to determine what you actually want out of the destination. If everyone complains that the bus ride from the airport to the resort is too long, but you want seclusion then this is a complaint you need to ignore. If the TV’s don’t work and the view from the balcony is not that great but you plan to spend every waking hour at the beach, by the pool, on day trips and at the bar, then, once again, this complaint does not affect you.
- Always check the dates the reviewer visited the location. Resorts tend to get bad reviews in the off-season because, well, it’s the off-season. You will find that the person who spent next to nothing to go to Cuba in July, will still find a reason to complain about service, renovations in progress and even the weather. Check back to the last busy season, if you are going in the busy season, and if possible check all the way back to the exact same date from the previous year. This will give you a more accurate portrait of the resort for your purposes.
- Don’t let one, or even two, reviews scare you away. There are people out there who will never be happy. These people tend to be the ones that find the time to write reviews. Read through all the reviews and you will most likely find many people that were at the same resort at the same time and thought it was the greatest experience of their lifetime. However, if all the resorts give a poor rating and have the same complaints, it’s time to move on and find a different resort.
- A picture is worth a thousand words. Most reviewers upload tons of pictures. Take the time to go through them. Some people have trouble describing things with their words. Pictures don’t lie. Pictures allow you to visit the resort before you visit the resort to see if it is what you are looking for.
- Take note of where the negative reviewers hale from. You will get to see a pattern where people from a certain part of the globe tend to complain about the same certain things.
Once you’ve found your destination, travelled there, enjoyed it or not and returned home, get a free membership to TripAdvisor and write a review in order to help the rest of us find our paradise.