A Comparison of Major Travel WEBSITES

Jun 14th, 2019, 05:04 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 21,098
Lonely Planet: I don't use it and have never posted on it. I tried looking at it a few times and found it hard to use and not particularly informative for the things I sought.

Fodors: Fodors ROCKS!

Rick Steves. Intense dislike. Will NOT use.

Trip Advisor: I use TA for some info on hotels beyond that available on booking.com, for some limited info on restaurants, and occasionally for estimates of how long to spend at various site. I approach all info there with skepticism.

P.S. Thanks zebec!
kja is offline  
Jun 14th, 2019, 05:21 PM
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 2,366
I don't ask questions that often on any forum because of snark but the TA people have been the most helpful for locations where I really needed help and thanked them over and over for the research a local-only could do for my most recent trip. We are retired military and have some good forums for travel. If you give a snarky answer you are out. It is a brotherhood of sorts and people bend over backwards to help each other with travel. It is so great because people stationed all over the world will help you out with logistics, places to stay and where to get a deal. No question is stupid. The internet has opened up travel and love it. I do review places on TA but also read other reviews the poster has left. I don't blindly trust a review. Rick Steves is good but his posters are not super helpful. I just met a couple in Galway and they were from our area but she could not tell me where they had been or where they were going on a three week tour. They had already been to Scotland but had just spent the night outside of Dublin but couldn't remember. where. Her husband was a little better but it was like they just signed up and were on a tour. I love planning as much as the trip. There are so many types of travellers.
Macross is offline  
Jun 15th, 2019, 11:07 AM
Join Date: May 2008
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Normally when threads are moved from one forum to another the moderator leaves the thread title in the original posting forum with Moved next to it so it's easy to find. Any particular reason that didn't occur in this case?

I use booking.com and TA for hotels, TA more for the photos than the reviews. Some of the destination forums are helpful there--a mixed bag, really.

For dining, I still look at chowhound, even though it's a ghost of what it used to be. It's a starting place for me and then I'll scour the internet for more info.

Have never used Rick Steves. A long, long time ago I lurked on Thorn Tree Africa Forum, but even when I was young it was a little too backpacker-y for me.
Leely2 is offline  
Jun 15th, 2019, 10:11 PM
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 613
Originally Posted by suze View Post
I disagree with you 100% about Trip Advisor.

TA's tone can be bloodless, humourless and impersonal

When you are actually in the various Destination FORUMS there is no "tone" from "TA"... it's like here... just regular people talking to each other.
TA is more like 1000 different forums. Ranging from sickly sweet to more acidic than sulfuric acid. There are things that will get you hounded if you ask in some forums. Other forums you will get kind words. Some of the smaller forums have no traffic or close enough. Some of the forums make a high school clique seem open.

There are fake reviews in the destination forums. Often one post wonders just show up to post a gushing review. There are long threads with nothing but one post persons thrilled with a product. I'm talking hundreds of posts. A new one every two or three weeks.

The new thread deletion policy on TA means these threads no longer get deleted.
Traveler_Nick is online now  
Jun 16th, 2019, 10:19 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,987
I start trip planning with the glossy guidebooks like DK and Insight, and then move on for logistics to Lonely Planet and Rough Guide, sometimes Bradt or Odyssey and occasionally Footprint, it really depends on where I'm going. I used to use Rick Steves' guides back in the 90s and early 00s, and might still use one of his walks, or his recommended hotels, but the coverage is too limited.

I used to check Thorn Tree for things like how much to bribe the border guards for Transnistria, but haven't been on it in ages. I do use the site for specific info for destinations.

I was active at one time on the RS forums, but quit after I was censored for chatting instead of just answering the question.

I only visit TA for the reviews. I add my own, for places that are particularly good, particularly bad, or have few other reviews. I read reviews with care and discount any place with too many one-post wonder reviews.

I have been active on Fodors since 2006, and while avoiding the Lounge have always enjoyed the chat on the destination boards. especially on my TRs when traveling.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 16th, 2019, 12:46 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 64,958
My first site way back in the '90's was Frommer's and I used to post there quite a lot. Haven't been on it in more than 15 years and don't even know if they still have forums, etc.

Found Fodors by accident in about 1998 and have posted regularly here ever since. I use Fodors Guide books occasionally (especially when they used to snd me 3 or 4 free ones every year ). Some of the boards here are so knowledgable and helpful and people go waaaaaay out of their way to help. The few people who complain about 'snark' are most often those who post really out there/next to impossible itineraries and simply don't like reading their plans are ill conceived. (There is another very small group of 'complainers' who think it is rude to try to get newbies to improve their plans). Since the new format I have read more of the travel articles since there is a teaser up front when one logs in.

Trip advisor is pretty hard to avoid since most google searches -- TA is always near the top of the results. But I totally avoid their hotel reviews. I rely more on Booking because only bonafide visitors can post reviews. I've posted maybe 20 hotel reviews on Booking - none on TA. I used to check TA restaurant reviews but their lists of the best such and such in a city are weird - some really casual cafes must have run campaigns to get reviews posts - or how can a hot dog shack in some major city be the 4th best place to eat??? The forums are good mostly if there is some obscure detail you are looking for - the DE's may argue a lot but they do know the minutia. I've never posted on TA

Lonely Planet/Thorntree I mostly access if I'm trying to help a young back packing friend or something like that where they are needing info about couch surfing or really low budget ideas.

My favorite guidebooks are the DK Eyewitness and some of the Michelin green guides, and lots of specialized books about gardens, or walking guides, or histories.
janisj is online now  
Jun 16th, 2019, 01:12 PM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 1,231
Funny I used to be a Frommers fan too! While they still occasionally print some guides, they arenít as extensive as Fodors.

Iím another RS and Fodorís fan. Iíve tried Lonely Planet and they just donít work for me. I do us TA and Booking and between the two have had good luck on hotels.

I just bought a Bradt guide and found it OK. A little different in the layout so I used it more after I made selections of where I wanted to go.

I enjoy the information on the Fodorís forums although I donít post all that frequently.
patandhank is offline  
Jun 16th, 2019, 02:19 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 92,032
I've been on Frommers fairly recently. The forums are basically dead last time I swung by.

I post on Trip Advisor a lot more than I post here.
suze is offline  
Jun 16th, 2019, 05:08 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,220
I started with travel forums while living in Moscow and I had 8 weeks of vacation/local leave time that the boss said I would take. I started with Rick Steves only because I watched him film on Rue Cler when I was temporarily living in Paris, but his methodology/philosophy did not work so good for someone already living in Europe. I looked at several an settled here because the info suited my needs better. I 'fess that until the last few years, I rarely posted but read a lot.
Rich is offline  
Jun 17th, 2019, 11:24 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 92,032
If I post a question on TA/PV about 3-star hotels or specific condo rentals in Old Town Puerto Vallarta I'll get dozens of replies from people who have actually stayed at them recently. Posters on that forum are long-time PV-lovers and dedicated to the destination. That would never happen here on Fodors. It is not only about "obscure details".
suze is offline  
Jun 17th, 2019, 11:35 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 10,063
Lots of people bash Fodor’s but I find I still get good advice. I see snarky comments and I ignore them. I have never gotten the responses like I got on a question I asked on TA...really snotty. I’ve been on TA longer than Fodor’s and it has changed over the years just as Fodors has. I think they both have their problems and their positives.
yestravel is offline  
Jun 17th, 2019, 11:45 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I'm not "bashing" just saying different websites are more helpful for some places than others. Like you wouldn't use Rick Steves for Mexico or Thailand though you might for Europe.

I also believe Fodor's is a more cohesive forum because there are only a few branches. I don't know how many individual city Destination Forums there are on Trip Advisor but must be thousands of sub-forums. No two are alike in personality or quality of information.
suze is offline  
Jun 30th, 2019, 09:05 AM
Join Date: Feb 2019
Posts: 2
I love to chat and read like-minded travel experiences on the Fodors site. I do not use any other travel sites. Basically, I myself plan my travels, but I have been reading the experience of travelers and planning my trip.
bettybenson is offline  
Jun 30th, 2019, 09:10 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 10,063
Originally Posted by bettybenson View Post
I love to chat and read like-minded travel experiences on the Fodors site. I do not use any other travel sites. Basically, I myself plan my travels, but I have been reading the experience of travelers and planning my trip.
I appreciate the diversity of opinions. It helps me decide where to go and how long to stay in various places.
yestravel is offline  
Jun 30th, 2019, 10:03 AM
Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 16
I read different travel stories. I use, besides Fodors, also tripadvisor. Before going on a trip I collect information and analyze all hotels.
stonestephany is offline  
Jun 30th, 2019, 10:27 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 650
Suze, you make some very good points about TA's various sub-forums and their distinct tones. We travellers are all lucky to have several different sites to compare and contrast info from. No need to just stick with one site, if cross-referencing matters to you. It matters a great deal to us.
I am done. The end.
zebec is online now  
Jul 1st, 2019, 04:16 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,030
Originally Posted by suze View Post
I'm not "bashing" just saying different websites are more helpful for some places than others. Like you wouldn't use Rick Steves for Mexico or Thailand though you might for Europe.
Rick Steves has no offerings, guide books or otherwise, for anywhere but Europe. So no, you wouldn't. He's done shows in Iran and the Holy Land but does not have any guidebooks or tours for those destinations.
amyb is offline  
Jul 1st, 2019, 10:58 AM
Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 18
In addition to travel sites, I still read blogs. I use travel tips and experiences for my travels. It’s more convenient for me to make a route and so I’m more confident about traveling.
glennlucy is offline  
Jul 1st, 2019, 11:16 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 17,931
Some of the Fodor's forums are helpful, others are filled with people who think they "own" them and don't take well to those who disagree. I do like to read the Fodor's trip reports, but rarely post a question.

Tripadvisor mostly for hotel reviews, especially the photos by users. I find that booking and Expedia, etc, tend to edit reviews and you may not get the full picture, so I usually "vet" hotels on TA by looking at the bottom range of reviews. Not a fan of TA forums, although on occasion you can find one with a few people who give even-handed advice. Most are dominated by cliques who have business interests or feel like they have to defend their territory against any negative advice. Sometimes you'll get a recent traveler that posts for a few months after their trip and then they go away. I review postings before a trip to learn about current issues (even if the answers can tend toward the BS end of the spectrum). Things like strikes, safety issues are often highlighted on TA long before they are ever mentioned on Fodors. I find TA to be better for some of the nuts and bolts answers like airport transportation, is Uber available, etc.

I haven't looked at Lonely Planet in donkey's years.
mlgb is offline  
Jul 1st, 2019, 01:06 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 650
I dunno Zebec. Here's some various & sundry little bits. Do you want us to comment on social psychology, dynamics, hierarchies, pecking orders and like that too? No?

I find LP's 'search' function to be the most consistent. The tone on their forum seems the most international of the Big Four. I'm guessing that males may outnumber females in their demographic(??). Lonely Planet is now onto their fourth owners. One now detects a certain slippage on LP, membership seems down and it'd not be surprising to learn that their team are currently in crisis mode about the Thorn Tree forum and the overall site. The visible increase in advertising rubs some the wrong way. Once, after my recent post about an Italian enoteca, up popped an ad for wine cellars (?!) on my next visit to the site. Trust me when I tell you that LP had a great many championship-level nutters about a decade ago, just prior to their shutting down their old 'Your Choice' forum for an overdue 'time-out' year. There was a lot of mental illness posed as traveller (you don't say, Zebec----editor).

I find TA to be somewhat cold, crass and commercial. But it can sometimes be useful for cross-referencing and also vacation rentals. Their cringe-worthy 'badge-earning system' is downright insulting to the intelligence of any reasonable traveller, as though we're all 12 yr old boy scouts/girl guides--epic fail by their management team. Kinda' odd to see posters try to ramp up their totals by giving star ratings to local Turismo offices! IMHO, TA's tone can be bloodless, humourless and impersonal BUT love their idea of subdividing countries into numerous regions for purposes of directing forum Q&A (e.g. 7 different areas for Provence alone). Nonetheless, Mrs Z and I are using TA less and less often.

Fodors. The demo here may be more females than males---am I right? And posters here sure like their acronyms--Jaysus! Fodors is an older demographic. Their 'Threads I Am On' feature often shows redundant doubling up--could the tech department please fix that? Fodors moderators allow more salty language than the other major sites. Of all the Big Four, there just now feels a healthier forum @Fodors, one that seems to promise many more years of usefulness on several levels.

The Rick Steves site has a nifty 'Jump to Bottom' feature for immediate forum scrolling. Like Fodors, its feel is very American--how could it not be? Gotta admit that I was taken aback around Xmas past when the RS Queen Bee moderator actually accused me right there mid-thread of lying! It was astonishing coz what I'd earlier commented on (an exchange a year ago of friendly emails with some of her colleagues about an unrelated and unserious matter) was 100% true. We had the emails to prove it. Tres etrange. And to think that I'd included positive coverage about RS back in my '80-'90s travel articles about the various guidebooks. Geez, you're welcome. RS has but a scant section on non-European locations on their forum, one so tiny that it begs the question 'Why Bother?'

Another shout-out for wikitravel and fingers crossed that Rome2Rio keeps getting better.

I am done. The humble opinion.

Last edited by Moderator1; Jul 1st, 2019 at 02:11 PM. Reason: inappropriate language
zebec is online now  

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