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Travel Tips for Your Trips: Be A Savvy Traveler & Read Reviews Objectively

Updated: Mar 12

Read Reviews Objectively

A review is a written or personal opinion that a consumer has about a product or service based on the person's experience. A review can be subjective, meaning very emotional or objective, based on facts that the person will use to support their opinion. In addition to a review, there are also ratings, usually using stars from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest. Many companies use both reviews and ratings.

Night photo City Walk, Orlando, Florida
The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen, City Walk, Universal Resort, Orlando

A person's review will be based on many aspects: their expectations, their experience with traveling, experience with a particular company and, believe or not, their mood that may have nothing to do with the company. In order to help you to be a more informed and savvy traveler and to make productive decisions that will lead to a great vacation, it's important that you know how to read a review effectively. That's why you need our tips for your trips.

Many savvy travelers read reviews about airlines, lodging, attractions, vehicle rental agencies, locations and more when they prepare for a trip. But with thousands of reviews and rating online and so little time, how do you know which reviews are objective enough for you to make an informed decision?

Here are our 10 top tips for your trips that will help:

1. Look at the lowest rated reviews first. Then sort them by date. Sometimes, when a rating is negative, the company has taken steps to resolve the problem. So, a review from 2012 might not be valid in 2023. Savvy travelers know that old reviews may not be accurate anymore.

Abstract light hanging from ceiling
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Lobby

2. Read the reviews that are the most recent and see if there is anything in common. If a particular issue with a hotel is mentioned several times, it is very possible that the issue really exists. The tip for your trip is that there is probably a problem.

3. Next, read the mediocre reviews (scores of 3 stars). Many times, these reviews are the most objective and are written by savvy travelers just like you. The customers will say something positive and negative and they will justify their opinions with evidence. An example is: "the hotel was crappy because the rug was ripped and the shower had mold in it." That's better than "the shower was filthy." Filthy to one person can be a speck of dust while filthy to another person can be actually dirty. The tip for your trip is to look for evidence to support the review.

Resort pool
Club Wyndham Cypress Palms, Kissimmee, Florida

Tour this resort on our YouTube Channel

4. Look to see if the reason for a low rating is the staff. Now, that can be justification for giving a low score, especially if it affected the quality of the experience. But, it does not mean that the hotel is physically unacceptable. If the reviewer does not speak of the hotel itself but rants on about attitudes, then read another review. The tip for your trip is that the hotel may be awesome after all. Hopefully, for savvy travelers, the staff will be improved.

5. Read other reviews by the reviewer. If the person seems to be complaining all the time and never has a positive or mediocre review, then you will know that the issue is with the reviewer and not the companies per se. Savvy travelers know that there are some people who are never satisfied, so their reviews may not be trustworthy.

Paul Bunyan Statue, Bangor, Maine
Paul Bunyan Statue, Bangor, Maine

6. People have different levels of acceptability. One person will believe someone has an attitude if they don't look up right away and another person might be able to see that the person is finishing a computer transaction and be able to respect that. Also, the level of experience in travel can affect a person's perspective (that's what we mean by being a savvy traveler). That will be difficult to tell when reading the review, but once you travel more and more, you will be able to figure out the actual facts opposed someone's exaggerations to make a point. The tip for your trip is to look for actual facts.

7. Be able to determine if circumstances are beyond the company's control. For example, some areas are prone to blackouts of electricity. The company should be responsible for their response to the situation: how long did they wait before checking on guests (a reasonable time would be 1/2 hour if the area has them all the time), are there flashlights in the room (to indicate they are prepared), is there information in the room that this happens often, etc. The company should not be responsible for the the blackout itself (unless they don't have a backup generator for their computer system). Again, the savvy traveler tip for your trip is that the company is only responsible for issues within their control.

Waterfall in winter, Ithaca, New York
Cornell University Campus

8. Savvy travelers know to pay attention to a high number of negative or medium reviews for a particular location. If you know a company fairly well, such as a hotel chain, an airline, or a restaurant group that specializes in fine dining, and you know normally the service is outstanding, it could be that particular location has an issue, not the whole chain. The tip for your trip is to read the medium rated reviews.

9. Consider your point of view and perspective. The best reviews will be the ones that describe the experience with details. Then, you can make your own determination. If you are a savvy traveler, you will know what is normal for a certain situation. If you are new to traveling, you expectations may be too high. Check out the two situations:

Situation 1: For example, many cruise excursions promise a drink, transportation and a meal. Many people imagine a top shelf cocktail in a glass, a premium bus with WiFi and an endless buffet featuring steak and lobster. The reality is you will get a rum punch, with a lot of ice in a plastic cup, adequate transportation (usually a coach bus or a comfy van, but it depends on how far the destination is) and one plate of food, almost always rice and peas and chicken. Sometimes, there is a complimentary bottle of water. Savvy travelers will say that the excursion was good if the purpose of the trip was fulfilled: they snorkeled, they got their historical tour, they shopped until they dropped, etc. Complainers will say that they got a cheap drink and a bus with no bathroom (which is really a good thing, by the way).

The tip for your trip is to keep your expectations reasonable.

Candle on table, night on the beach
Providenciales, Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos

Situation 2: European travel is different than traveling in the United States. Newbies don't know that rooms are smaller, there might not be air conditioning and there might not be an elevator (the lift) and that persons over 12 might be charged as adults in a hotel room. The room is also likely to have less furniture, no carpeting and spotty WiFi. Someone who is not experienced will be likely to give a low rating regardless of the hospitality of the staff, the location of the hotel and the cleanliness and security of the property. Savvy travelers know how hotels are in Europe and what to expect. The tip for your trip is to speak with someone with experience who can guide you to the best accommodations for your needs.

Resort decor
Ampelonas Apartments, Imerovigli, Greece

10. Check to see if the company has replied. If you see consistent negative reviews and either no answer or the same answer for each one, then the reviewers probably have a point. Savvy travelers know that either they don't care or they are badly organized. The tip for your trip is that you want to use companies that care if you have a great trip or not.

As you travel more and more, you will be able decide better which reviews and ratings actually will help to plan your trip better. Tip for Your Trips: Keep traveling and you will become a savvy traveler. Good luck and Happy Travels!

New York City skyline
Lower Manhattan

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Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

All photos and videos created and copyrighted by Marcia Crayton, unless otherwise noted.

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