Saturday, June 21, 2008

Where's the Map?

I recently reviewed the hotel we stayed in while in Quito, Ecuador (the Eugenia Hotel) on TripAdvisor. Doing so got me thinking about the website itself...I actually used to not like travel review websites, as I found them biased, or that people were purposefully posting false information. But, while planning my last few trips, I found myself using TripAdvisor (and sites like it) more and more--usually I was landing on them from Google searches. Earlier this week I was looking at hotels in Philadelphia (since, though I love the Westin there, I was looking for something different), what was the first place I looked? Yup, Tripadvisor.

After all this internet searching and review reading I decided that perhaps my next getaway should be planned the way we planned trips in the "old days" by calling the hotel's 800 number or calling the hotel (or campground as the case may be) directly. (But, seriously, I'm not that old!)

I remember one roadtrip in 1998 me and 4 friends took a winterbreak roadtrip from Chicago to NYC then down the coast to Florida, over to New Orleans and back to Chicago...I definately didn't search online for hotels or reviews then. For our stay in New York City I used a borrowed travel guide and called a (dingy) hotel, (in *gasp* New Jersey--but we were 4 college kids with no money, so that had to do). We really knew nothing about the hotel until we got there. And, getting there was quite the adventure. No one had a GPS or google maps, we used a well-worn atlas to get around the east coast. It was fantastic.

Another time we drove from Columbia, Missouri to Atlanta, Georgia with the same old atlas and a vague destination (a campground outside Atlanta) ahead. We didn't plan our timing very well, and arrived there at about 3am, when the campground office was closed. So, there we slept, (for free!) in the car 3 feet from the office door. We awoke to the campground owner knocking on the window.

So, maybe the next trip I go on will be "old school," no TripAdvisor, no MapQuest, no Google. Just an atlas and a sense of adventure.