Lots of folks will likely be traveling this weekend.
1. Read Traveler Reviews
User review sites have changed the way most people plan their travel, giving us an enormously useful tool for evaluating hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions and the like. TripAdvisor.com is the big kahuna, with more than 20 million reviews, mostly of hotels but also less traditional lodging like B&Bs, villas and private homes as well as restaurants and attractions. TravelPost.com is another, owned by Kayak.com and recently relaunched; like its airfare aggregating parent, TravelPost.com collects reviews from various websites, such as Citysearch.com, Yahoo Travel and IgoUgo.com. Check out Yelp.com for locals takes on restaurants, shops and other businesses, or OpenTable.com, which guarantees that reviewers have actually eaten at the restaurants they rate.User reviews are helpful but not foolproof, so keep in mind the following tips
Read between the lines, asking yourself if the writer shares your mind set, or if a negative review is the result of a persnickety traveler or a singular bad experience. As a rule of thumb, the more people have contributed, the more valuable overall ratings become.
Always see how recent the post was. Establishments are quick to change, move or close.
Always look at photos posted by users; you may find them more telling than words could ever hope to be.
2. Join Travel Forums
Years ago, travel forums in which users answer other users questions were hit or miss, with too many crackpots dominating the conversation. Certain forums, however, have matured to the point that youd be unwise to ignore them. Forums like those on TripAdvisor.com, Fodors.com, Frommers.com and LonelyPlanet.com all handle destination advice well. But bear in mind that sites attract different kinds of travelers Fodors users can skew older and wealthier, for example, while the Lonely Planet fan is typically younger and more likely to rough it.Also check out CruiseCritic.com for a cruise lowdown, FlyerTalk.com for air travel, Chowhound.com and Roadfood.com for dining and Superfuture.com for a little bit of everything, especially cutting edge design and shopping.
3. Suck Up to a Blogger
Every major city has bloggers who are obsessed with whats new and great in their backyard, particularly in regard to restaurants. You can use Google Blog Search to find bloggers in whatever city youre visiting. Theyre a phenomenal resource, but dont just read what theyre writing Contact them for personal recommendations. The more specific your request and the more you flatter them for their insight and wit the more likely youll be to pique their interest and get a response. (Whats your favorite vegetarian friendly restaurant within walking distance of the InterContinental Hotel on Howard Street? Were looking for a place with a romantic vibe, ideally, because its our anniversary. Wed be so grateful for your help, because you obviously know whats going on in San Francisco)
4. Update Your Status
Dont forget social networks like Facebook and Twitter, which are useful not only for planning before you go, but also for once youre on the road, since you can continue to access them through your mobile device. Ask in your status update Does anyone know a good value hotel in Rome Coolest spots for dessert and coffee in New York? The best place to get cowboy boots in San Antonio? Youll be surprised at the number and variety of suggestions youll get.
5. Dont Snub the Bus
Traveling by bus is not as uncivil as it used to be. So before you rush to book a flight or train for short hops, check out MegaBus and BoltBus. The buses are new and clean, with unexpected perks free wi fi and outlet access, for starters and no funky bus smell. BoltBus, which is part of ?Greyhound, connects major Northeast U.S. cities (New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington), while MegaBus has a larger route map, traveling throughout the ?Midwest and Northeast as well as ?Eastern Canada and the U.K. Tickets rarely cost more than $30 each way, and sometimes cost as little as $1.
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