What To Expect When Traveling To The China Olympic Games This Summer
For some of us, travel is a BIG deal. We don’t travel that often and when you do it’s a treat.
For others, it’s no big deal. Air travel is as mundane as taking a taxi across town. The lines, the wait, the layovers, baggage claim, etc. It’s not something to really get hyped up about.
The real excitement is from the actual destination and experiences you have when you get there. Travel used to be a big black box. You’d plan your trip, and read-up on facts about the places you visit to help you survive when you get there – like local currency, food, religion, customs, whether they drive on the left or right side of the road, etc. But nothing you learned pre-trip came anywhere close to the actual experience when you got there.
When paying $3,000+ roundtrip on economy class airfare just to get to the Olympic Games in Beijing China this summer, plus hotels, plus cabs, plus food, plus souviners, etc, you kind of want to know if it’s worth it before you put down that trusty American Express card for the tickets and reservations.
Today, technology and the internet has changed everything relating to travel. You don’t have to deal with people when buying your tickets and plans, and at the same time you can tap the billions of people connected online to really know what you’re getting yourself into before you leave for the airport.
For example, if you have these romantic dreams of visiting China for the Summer Olympics starting on 08/08/08 at 8pm (yes, that’s right), then perhaps you should just check to see if your vision is close to reality. Are you expecting a city that’s hustling and bustling with energy? A place where the billion Chinese hold the future? Are looking to experience the “orient” and culture of the Asian continent?
But what if you found out that the “sometimes crowded beaches” actually looks like this. . .
So how do you make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into whenever you leave home on a trip to ANYWHERE?
One of my favorite sites is www.TripAdvisor.com — this is truely a great example of using the internet to aggregate individual knowledge to empower the masses. According to the site, 22,546,430 travelers from 189 countries used Trip Advisor this past week alone for their travel planning.
In actuality, the photos above aren’t from a beach in China, but the point is that text descriptions in travel books or other sources doesn’t always do a place justice. Sometimes you need more information that gives you a better picture.
The best part about the TripAdvisor site is the free access to detailed individual reviews and feedback about each and every hotel and point of interest listed on the site. You’ll get feedback about the hotel you made reservations for from multiple travelers that just left the property this past week (usually). Reviewers will let you know how the bathrooms are, how the desk clerks are, how convenient (or how unsafe) the street is after dark, which parking garage that’s only 1 block away to use vs. the rip-off hotel valet parking service, etc. Many times you can find out which types of rooms are worth the extra premium (views, club lounge access, etc) or not. You’ll learn about unpublished, or super-discount deals for the same attractions that you’re planning on visiting.
And most importantly, your expectations will usually be better aligned with reality — which will make for a much better trip or . . . a chance to change your itinerary before you leave.
If you’re looking to have 22 million other travelers help you get the most out of your vacation or travel budget, then TripAdvisor is one place you should check into right now.
At the very least, you’ll know if it’s important to be vigilant about finding a bathroom at the beach!