TripAdvisor is an independent ratings and review site where you can find other travellers' tips on the best places to travel, stay, eat and shop worldwide. It covers everything from hotels to motels, tours, restaurants and attractions. And it’s not just for the big hotel chains – little local B&Bs, galleries, caravan parks, museums and small cafes also feature. So take some time to check it out!
Visit the 'trip Ideas' section TripAdvisor Trip Ideas if you're looking for ideas. You can browse holiday categories including shopping, spa, adventure, family, romance, and more. You can also sort by region – so go find the best shopping holidays or most romantic destinations in Europe.
You can use the Flights search to find flights to and within Europe. Most of the major airlines are included, and you can compare prices and routes. You can also filter your search by flight length, airline, amenities, stopovers – and much more.
Tip: TripAdvisor is not a booking service, so you will have to book with either a travel booking service such as Expedia or the airline or hotel directly.
So – your flight overseas is booked, you have a rough itinerary planned – what’s next?
To look for accommodation, type your search words into the Search box – e.g. “Hotels Granada”. The “All Hotels” link takes you to reviews and ratings for individual hotels
Most regulars to TripAdvisor say that sorting the results by Ranking will give you a list of the best places to stay, however you can also sort by Price if you’re on a budget
The Traveller Rating graph is an at-a-glance snapshot of reviews ranging from ‘terrible’ to ‘excellent’ so you can get a quick summary of what others think
Tip: You could also start your search on a site like Wotif, or get a list from your travel agent – then check the results on TripAdvisor. When planning a trip overseas a few years ago, we booked through an agent – checking the TripAdvisor reviews for the places she recommended helped us choose an awesome B&B right in the heart of Rome
If you like the look of a place, read all the reviews. You can also check out the Traveller Photos section for the hotel – these unstaged and unedited pictures can sometimes give you more of an idea than the standard hotel shots
Check out the map too – is the place you’re looking at close to the attractions you want to visit? Is it close to transport? Do you want to be near the nightlife or somewhere a bit quieter?
If there are negative reviews, remember people are usually more ready to complain than praise online, but you’ll want to know if there are problems. Is there a common theme of bad reviews or are there just a couple of one-offs? If it’s just one or two, there may not be a real problem, but if all the reviews talk about the same thing, steer clear!
Has the owner of the business responded to a bad review? If they have, and there was a problem that’s since been fixed, that will tell you a lot too. Here’s an example of the proprietor of a Paris hotel responding positively to both Bouquets and Brickbats
As you’re reading, see if the reviewer is someone whose advice you’d normally take – and do they care about the same things as you? One person’s bliss may be another’s nightmare! While researching a trip to a little market village in Sicily I read one review saying that there were no supermarkets and another complaining that the bell tower in the chapel chimed all night and kept her awake. Neither of these would bother me and in fact I’d list them as attractions – so I booked!
Is the person writing the review a serial blamer? You can find this out by checking other reviews they have written (click on their name to find these). If they rate everything as ‘terrible’, that can tell you a lot
Tip: Watch out for reviews that read like they are written by friends and family of the hotel – if they seem too good to be true, they probably are!
Once you’ve decided on your accommodation, you can also find a hire car, restaurants and cafes, attractions, tours and much more using the same search and review links
If you have a specific question, or want more detail, check out the Travel Forum. Chances are that someone else has already asked your question – but if not, don’t be afraid to ask. Most people are willing to share their experiences and give advice
If you login with Facebook when prompted, you’ll see more personalised information and search results based on your Facebook profile. You can also see where your friends have visited or stayed, and read their reviews – and you can discuss your plans with them. Since you trust your friends – right? – it’s a great way to make decisions
If you don’t want to plan everything, the mobile version of TripAdvisor is very handy. I found and booked a B&B once on my phone just as we were pulling into a seaside town in France at sunset - and it was perfect! For overseas travel, though, just be careful of spotty phone reception and global roaming charges
And once you’re home, you can use TripAdvisor TripWow to create your own slideshow of your photos, to share with friends and family