Because it works. There are other options, but this one has never let us down.
Tripadvisor used to be tied to Expedia but is now independent. although Expedia is still a major client of TripAdvisor.
Can you trust it? Yes, as long as you are careful. We’ll have more on this later, but essentially you have to learn to select from lists, use the reviews, and get details from the Forums.
- look for places with a lot of reviews, and a lot of good ones.
- check out the percentage of bad reviews
- when you see bad reviews, or a small number of good OR bad ones, check out the posters to see if they look legitimate. Have they been to lots of places and posted lots of reviews? Have a quick look to see if they are always negative or always positive.
- if you like the overall look of a place, dig in to see WHY people liked and disliked it. Maybe they hated it because soy milk wasn’t available, and that’s not an issue for you. This is especially important for restaurants. I’ve seen so many “I booked for a party of six and when twelve of us showed up drunk they refused to accommodate us!!!!!”
Here are a couple of reviews that illustrate how specific and useful a good review can be:
TripAdvisor for a city
Go to TripAdvisor. Enter the name of your target city. You’ll see tabs as follows:
Start with these, for specific things like how to get in from the airport.
Things to Do, Hotels, Restaurants
This is where you’ll start you search for these–places that other travellers have liked. Later pages will describe how to use these.
Go to TripAdvisor. Enter the name of your target city.
You’ll see tabs for “All results” “Hotels” etc.
At the right end of that, hover over the “…” and select “Forums”
The TA forums are like a library: the more you understand about how it works, the faster you can get what you need.
The key is to go in prepared, and make two passes.
Prepared means that you already have some idea about the place you’re going.
- You’ve looked at a map to get an idea of size and orientation and landmarks
- You’ve already done some homework about what to see
- You know where you’ll be arriving, and so on.
In your first pass at the forum for a location, you’re searching.
First, figure out what forums might apply.
- A large city will have its own forum, so just go to the city’s page and look for the Forums link on the left side.
- A smaller place may be covered in several forums, so it’s best to do a couple of searches in TripAdvisor. Each one will have breadcrumbs at the top of the list of questions; try going up a level, for example from Florence to Tuscany; this might help you plan day trips from Florence.
- One search might be for the place you’re going, such as “Wengen, Switzerland.” Another might be for a specific question, such as “Hotels in Wengen.”
In both cases you should get multiple forum results; skim them all and decide which one is the best fit for the questions you’re trying to answer. Look around, maybe do some more searches, read some threads and see where they lead.
Look for the Top Questions
The Rome Forum’s Top Questions include, among others:
- What Rome attractions should I book in advance?
- Do I need a guided tour of Rome or the Vatican?
- To and from Fiumicino/Leonardo da Vinci airport (FCO), including night transportation
- To and from Civitavecchia (Port)
- Day trips from Rome: Pompeii, Naples, Sorrento, Capri and Amalfi Coast
- What are some convenient neighborhoods to stay in?
See how fast you can get oriented?
Look for specific topics:
- Search for whatever you need to know, such as “visiting the Rijksmuseum with a stroller”
- Skim through the results, looking for recent-enough posts
- You’ll often find information that answers maybe 2/3 of what you wanted. That’s great, because it helps you ask a useful question.
Only then can you ask questions:
Ask a question only after making a reasonable effort to find out if it’s already been answered. Look in Top Questions and Travel Guides, and search (at least a bit) what’s already been posted.
You will be amazed how fast you can get an answer in popular sections.
Be specific. Here’s a question that won’t be very effective: “Where should I stay in Wengen?” Can you think why? It’s mostly because you will always get the Consultant Answer: “It depends.”
The forums are full of real experts, and you can save days of back-and-forth by asking the experts a good question. Like maybe: “We will be in Wengen next July. Two mature adults, moderate budget, prefer quiet. We’ve narrowed it down to hotels A and B. Is one a better choice? Is there another we should consider? And what’s this ‘half pension’ deal that they all talk about?”
Many people are Destination Experts for one or more places. You’ll see a notation near their picture at the left side of the page of results. Their answers are usually even better.