Saturday, January 7, 2012

On the Road with TripAdvisor and Yelp

TripAdvisor: Do you use TripAdvisor? I've been using it for several years now, first for information about hotels, and now also for information about restaurants and site seeing attractions. If you aren't using it in your travels and travel planning, I recommend that you try it.

We used it a lot planning for our honeymoon in Europe - to find hotels in Paris, London and Bruges, and restaurants in Berlin - and we weren't disappointed. In the US we travel though a lot of little towns in the west and we use it to find decent hotels and places to eat when the choices are slim. TripAdvisor has an iPhone app, and you can just use the internet browser on any smart phone to find it. We use it on our iPhone while on the road to find places to stay the night or grab a meal. Its especially useful when you are traveling through small towns and looking to eat someplace that isn't a fast food chain or scary.

The site's information has grown so much over the past few years that I find it really covers most places all over the world. While some places have mixed reviews that make it tough to get the real picture, you can usually weed out what is a real trend of bad service/experience vs. one person's personal bad experience which can happen even in the best of places. 

For a long time I have wanted to give back by writing my own reviews. We visit a lot of sites, hotels and restaurants and I feel that if I am using this wonderful information from others, I should also be giving back with my own information to help others. Well, a great, magical restaurant experience we had last week in the small town of Pahrump, Nevada finally motivated me to write my first review. You can see the link here: Tommasino's Fine Italian Dining. I am proud that I finally stopped being lazy and did this. Now I owe long overdue reviews to some dear friends who own hotels in Monrovia, Liberia and Tbilisi, Georgia. This is one New Year's resolution - to write reviews.

YELP: Another great place for travel recommendations, especially restaurants, that I use more often than TripAdvisor, is yelp. I started using this when I lived in Washington, DC. We used this a lot while driving across the country on our move to Salt Lake City, and I use it all the time when we are on our road trips. 

I am a bit obsessive about checking out yelp anytime we want to get something to eat anywhere. I think it drives my husband a little crazy. Wait...scratch that...I KNOW it drives him a little crazy. He feels that using these services takes a bit of the mystery and adventure out of just stumbling upon a great place. I get that and I agree, but I also pose that even with the information you get from these sites, you are still not sure what you are going to get. There is still a mystery there when its your first visit to a place. You don't know if those reviews are really going to be right. Things change all the time. We've found some terrific places using yelp and TripAdvisor, and this year I am going to give back more by adding my own reviews, good and bad, of places we've experienced.

Happy travels on the Byway and may you find excellent restaurants and hotels on your journeys...and if you do, please share your reviews!

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