While most of us have scaled back our spending considerably, that doesn’t mean we’ve stopped taking short trips or vacations altogether.
And while saving money on travel is more important than ever before, that doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten the little stuff – such as the quality of the hotel you book or the reputation of the airline.
Have you ever booked a hotel that looked great on its Web site only to discover upon checking in that it’s next to a major freeway or undergoing a huge renovation?
Or, have you found your seat assignment on the airplane only to discover that you’re sitting in front of an exit row – when all you wanted to do was recline your seat and take a nap? These things can mar a trip so it pays to do a little homework.
Fortunately, the Internet makes it easy to compare as well as find great travel deals. With the explosion of user-generated content on the Web, you can get firsthand accounts of people who have stayed at the hotel you’re thinking about booking, along with photos and insider travel tips.
I recently used Tripadvisor.com to research budget hotels near Disneyland – and I’m glad I did. I was tempted by the bargain-basement prices of one hotel. When I entered its name into Tripadvisor.com, I saw pages of posts made by people who had stayed there, some positive and a lot not so positive. There were even photos posted by users illustrating the good, the bad and the ugly. It helped me make a wise travel decision – spend the extra $20 a night for a clean room near the park.
Tripkick.com also provides detailed information on hotels down to which specific rooms have the best views, best bathrooms, etc. More importantly, it also tells you which rooms are less than ideal. Tripkick.com will even provide you with specific room numbers to request based on your preferences.
Seatguru.com provides diagrams and layouts of the major airlines’ planes so you can know the location of the wings, bathrooms and emergency exits. It also flags which seats have more legroom as well as those that don’t have under-seat storage. User comments also help you identify which seats to avoid. So, when you go to the airport to check in and the airline gives you the option of selecting your seat, you will know exactly where – and where not – to sit.
While these things may seem like niggling details, they can set the tone for your entire vacation. Doing your homework doesn’t cost extra, but it can make a big difference in your travel experience.
Romi Carrell Wittman is a writer and the communication services director for Trico Electric Cooperative. E-mail: romi.wittman@ comcast.net.