How much do you need to know about where you’re going? Obviously some ground information is good, but when I started using Tripadvisor, I realised I was entering a world of very nitpicky people. Attempting to destroy the reputation of a hotel because you didn’t like the colour of the bathroom is a little loopy. Warning bells went off when I read; ‘I can’t believe the taxis were so hard to find. I have no trouble finding them in New York.’ This was from some idiot on a small Greek island.
Then there’s the rating of hotels. To be fair, other people’s tastes are not my own but even so, it’s a bit weird travelling a thousand miles and complaining about the restaurant’s napkins. Ratings seem suspiciously weighted by friends or employees, so that the best places to eat are rated lower than terrible cafes full of cruise-ship tourists.
(The idea of being on a cruise ship or Floating Council Block fills me with horror. Getting off to tromp through a village and be fed cattle-style in a barn-like restaurant with a special area set aside for cruise ships makes me think of them as concentration camps with marginally better food.)
On holiday, the lure of the familiar is balanced by the thrill of discovery, and the thought of always knowing what to expect is robbing us of the pleasure of finding things out for ourselves. And it’s not just on holiday but in museums, the theatre, art galleries – at least the internet can’t tell you the outcome of a sports match yet.
My advice? Use Wikitravel – it’s a great site for giving you just the right amount of information. I read it, then close the laptop.