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Looking at the Web from a World Away

Traveling outside of the US, you quickly get a sense of just how much the internet has changed how we gather and validate information.  Our access to information and how we use crowd knowledge has changed dramatically in a few short years...

…Once on the ground, I found two big changes in how the web has impacted travel.
First, TripAdvisor.   My memory of TripAdvisor was that it was mostly a collection of unhappy travelers complaining about a hotel or restaurant they didn’t like.  But that was years ago, and boy has it changed.  In Rome, TripAdvisor helped us find two of our three evening dinners – with reviews from good natured fellow travelers who shared tips, favorite dishes, and warning about oddities.  I found TripAdvisor to be 100% on point, allowing us to budget rather than be surprised at costs, and to go off the beaten trail.  Sure, the hotel concierge was a help for booking – but from city to city concierge were uneven (Great in Rome, ok in Florence, unhelpful in Venice).

The combination of Trip Advisor and GPS navigation made it easier to explore outside of tourist zones, feel confident even when rather lost, and not at the mercy of cab drivers or local tour guides.

Trip Advisor’s community was so helpful, so warm, and so engaging that I did something I never expected to do, and ended up reviewing a number of restaurants while on the trip.  In Rome, one restaurant was good, thought more expensive than we’d expected (the concierge said ‘reasonable’) and they added a charge bread basket to the bill – which seemed a bit surprising.  A positive review with two warnings seemed like right bit of information to share with fellow TripAdvisor travelers…

...One final note about food.  Away from home, trying new things is always a bit risky.  It’s why so many travelers end up in restaurants near major attractions.  But with TripAdvisor and my friends’ advice, we were able to go down many alleys and explore local haunts far off the beat trail.  The knowledge of the crowd made us more adventurous, and the result was both rewarding and delicious.

Technology is changing how we plan, share, and enjoy travel.  And being connected to fellow travelers -both actual friends, and the large community of visitors, means there isn’t as likely to be a tourist trap or unplanned expense or ‘fee’ that is foist upon a first time visitor.  It may happen, but if so, be assured that it will be posted on Trip Advisor to warn the next traveler who comes along.

Overall, tech is making travel safer, more fun,  and easier to share and enjoy.