* Prices may differ from that shown
I love reading travel reviews, I love writing them too!
This review considers writing about destinations, rather than specific airlines and hotels.
We have a large but finite number of travel destinations but an infinite number of ways of seeing them. Any person going to any place has their own experience, so that place is a different place to every visitor.
For me a good travel review has to include two main things.
1. Why is this place unique in itself?
2. What was my experience that made it unique to me?
My viewing of the Taj Mahal did not change the Taj Mahal. (It still stands as one of the most beautiful sights in the world.) It changed me! My perception of it made it unique again. Your perception of it will make it unique again. Ad infinitum.
So in my view, if you want to write a decent travel review, you need to describe the place and it's effect on you. Simple!
Or perhaps not.....
~~~Other things to think about.~~~
1. Where is it?
If you are writing about a fabulous restaurant you went to in Splickensplackenburgh-auf-den-Miltgrob, you need to tell me roughly where Splickensplackenburgh-auf-den-Miltgrob is! The best restaurant in the world is no use to me if I haven't got the foggiest idea where it is. Locate the place by city and country for the less travelled amongst us. Don't assume we know where it is just because you've had your tea there!
2. How do you get there?
I might, on the strength of your review, be desperate to visit the Temple of the One Eyed Gnu, in Phlampoogia. My perception of it would be altered if you forgot to mention that I had to walk for three days through a rainforest to get to it! A quick mention of it's accessability goes a long way! (no pun intended!)
3. What is the weather like?
I went twice to Luxor in Egypt. The first time I was there it poured down! If I didn't go on to say that that was the first rain they had had there for six years and it only lasted twenty minutes, then people would be packing their wellies and umbrellas! Which would be novel but not very helpful.
4. Is it safe there?
If there are hazards such as malarial mosquitos, mention it! If it is a place that you would happily take a 'babe in arms' to, mention that too! Peoples' perception of how safe they will be will affect their planning. It would be a major flaw in your review writing if you looked out of your hotel window, saw a massive street gang torching a McDonalds and only mentioned that you got an overcooked McFatburger there one night!
5. What are the locals like?
Are they friendly? Do they speak your language? Will they consider themselves entitled to have sex with you if you show a bit of leg? Are there any left or have they all been driven out by hordes of English Holidaymakers?
Mixing with the locals and learning from them is a major part of many travellers wishes when holidaying. So it's important to say how you found them. The locals can make or break a holiday. It is their place you are invading, so it's important to say how you got on with them.
6. What are the major attractions in the area?
Visiting Niagara and moaning that the sound of running water drowned out the TV programme you were watching in the hotel lobby, might just be missing the point of being in Niagara!
If there is something that you found amazing to experience, tell us! Many people might just have a short time to visit one place, so knowing the best things to see and do in that time is vital.
7. What's the food like?
Is it fabulous? Will I put on two stone in weight? Do I need to take ten packets of Immodium Super Extra Extra Super Strength because the hygeine standards would embarass a warthog? Can I get a bacon butty when I am tired of eating roasted goat? Food is pretty important to us travellers.
It's not just about the food either, it's useful to put in local habits and customs around eating. I was in the back of beyond in Morocco once and a friend I was with got into serious trouble because he couldn't get used to eating just using his right hand! (Some cultures consider eating with the left hand as unclean)
8. What was your accomodation like?
How much was it roughly? Was it quiet? Do you get a bed? Sheets? Shared bathroom? Would you stay there again? I woke up one morning in an hotel in Portugal to find men taking the roof off my room! Minor events like that should be mentioned!
9. Who might want to go there?
Not everybody is able bodied. It would be stupid of me to extol the virtues of Mogilev in Belarus if I failed to mention that the pavements are so bad that moving around in a wheelchair is impossible.
Any place that you review, think about who would be happy here and who would not! Many teenagers would be bored witless by six hours of compulsory folk dancing viewing in Andoveriaupdenbighill. Athletic surfer types aren't necessarily going to go into ecstasy at the prospect of trundling around a knitwear museum. Think about who it would or wouldn't suit.
Obviously, not all of these things will be necessary to put in all reviews but I hope I have given you some insight into what makes a travel review 'good' from my point of view. If I have missed anything vital, please let me know and I will add it in!
Now, get writing! (Because we have all been somewhere interesting!)
We visited Euro Disney on 4th January for 5nights 6 days. We travelled from Ashford via Eurostar which was completley hassle free. We parked up in a secure car park and from level 5 you have direct accessto the terminal. After going through passport control etc there is a departure loung which has toys for the children to play with. The journey was comfortable and seat room very spacious. On arrival we made our way to the Santa Fe hotel and even though we shouldn't off een there until 3pm they had a room free at 11 and we checked in. It was very comfortable not very spacious but just what you needed. The parks where ver busy at the weekend but by the Tuesday i quietened off. We booked a character meal before we went and this saved about 50% due to the euro being poor. The kids and us loved it, there was no rush to get us out and we spent 2 hours with the characters who came to our table and every other one.
The hotel itself was clean and tidy, continental breakfast with lots of choice and everyone packed up for luch from breakfast.
The disney sale starts 6th Jan make the mos of it fantastic bargains.
advise: it is very cold and take ski clothing we didn't and we froze, it snowed for the 5 days, it was fantastic for the holiday but we had to keep going back to get warm.
There is a auchan supermarkct open monday to saturday one stop on the metro, for heap food as in disney and the hotels the food is very expensive (£23 for fish and chips) each.
When it's time to come home don't go to the check in to early they won't open it a minute early and again it's cold.
Travel reviews are one of those areas where good writers will come to prominence as they can really let their creative style shine through, when I read a travel review I not only want a decent amount of factual information such as cost and the facilities available at a resort or the punctuality of an airline I also want to be taken on a trip by the writer and to get a feel for the destination.
A lot depends on what particular aspect of travel you are reviewing, with hotels and airlines it is the service combined with the cost and in the case of a hotel facilities that are important and for me cleanliness and the type of guests the place attracts are also important factors I want to read about. With modes of transport safety and comfort are key features and how they deal with any problems that you may encounter.
With a destination it is facilities and what sort of attractions are close by and overall what sort of traveller it is suitable, adventurous, families, quiet, lively nightlife, that sort of detail should be included to help someone make a buying decision.
hey I'm just writing out to people out there who loves air jordans and air force ones about this website me and my friends bought from. www.authenticsforall.com got some good REAL air jordans at affordable prices. I paid like 300 for a pair of air jordans at pickyourshoes.com and I only paid 170 for the same shoes in a different color at www.authenticsforall.com. They've got some legit authentic kicks and jerseys. So if you're looking for Nike's I recommend buying from there. Also I got discounts for referring my friends
Hi there, i spend a lot of time traveling for no other reason than, I LIKE IT!!! my most recent holiday was a package holiday to sharm el sheik, Egypt.
I arrived 1 feb, and it was 22* c, it was lovely. the whole sea is national park, and is the red sea reviera, the place thrives with fish and as a result snorkeling and diving are a must. The sea is filled with undisturbed coral and fish. ( lemon shark, blow fish ect) There are hundreds of different companys offering the same trips but it is a must when in egypt. prices range from around £18 - £45, so be careful. If your lucky the guides will even take your underwater camera and dive to create some wonderful picsa just for you. All in all the place was beautiful, the people were wonderful, the atmasphere was fantastic, the activities were unriveled and i will be a return visitor, no doutb about it!
Camp du pylone, Antibes, have stayed there many many times over the past 5 years and seen lots of good improvements, although little needed, found this site through the internet www.brownsword-mobilehomes-nice.net Their charges start from £160 per mobile per week. Full photos of the vans on the web site so you see what you get. I found them to be very clean and are clearly updated each year. certainly recommend them
We should have anticipated the long coach journey but nothing prepares you . We set off at 2.10 am and arrived at 8pm. The coach driver who took over near Dover coughed most of the way and regularly swayed to the hard shoulder. There was no co-driver or courier so Bob must have been even more relieved than we were when we reached the destination.
The destination of St Georghausen was a surprise as the Travelscope brochure for the "Twixmas Rhine Cruise" had promised Boppard. We glimpsed brightly lit Boppard on the way to St Georghausen which was fast asleep.
Our tour guide, Maria, said hello at the ship and accompanied us when we took the optional trip the next day to Cochem. It was a great relief when Maria stopped talking as her knowledge of the area was limited to reading snippets from a brochure but she filled in with her opinions on such things as immigration in England. Maria led community singing on the way back with "Where have all the flowers gone..." A cheery end to the excursion.
We paid £80 extra for our cabin on the promenade deck so were disappointed that the shower area stank. I asked for assistance from both Reception and the cleaner. They merely offered a spray to temporarily cover the smell. Each time we opened the shower area door the sour smell pervaded the cabin.
The brochure promises a gala party night. Many passengers dressed up for the occasion and were disappointed to find the live entertainment was the same as on the other nights - Andy playing an organ. The tour guides made no attempt to make a party happen.
The music museum at Rhuddesheim is well worth a visit. If you go independently the entrance price is 5.50 Euros each. If you go as part of an optional excursion then the price is £15 per person but includes a short trip on the "Noddy Train" and a mug of Gluwein.
Why do coach journeys abroad seem to always include stops at the grottiest sheds selling beers and wines? Our coach driver seemed to be the only person keen to buy!
The trip as a whole was interesting experience but I would think twice about spending two whole days of a four day holiday on a coach again. I hope for the sake of the next passengers that the smelly cabin gets sorted. I would also be willing to pay more for the driver to have a co-driver or at least a travel guide other than Maria with him in case of illness or the possibility of him going over his set hours for driving without a rest.
We have just returned from the Hotel Jupiter in Alcudia after spending 2 weeks there.
Lovely place but prepare yourself for a lot of noise!! Every night selfish people return to their rooms at all hours (this starts from 11pm) loud and show no consideration for anyone else or young children. Twice there was trouble on our floor and security was called - reception were very good and gave the culprits a warning or they were out! Rooms are very small for familes and our floor was only swept once. Beds are changed twice a week and clean towels were supposed to be given every 3 days-yeah right!! we had to ask for clean towels!
Lifts are an absolute nightmare waited ages for them and there is only one large lift for your luggage!
Onto the good parts- food was great and plenty of it - lots of selections avaliable and bar staff were really helpful too once they understood what you wanted-large selection of drinks although no Baileys or bitters!!
Entertainment ok and plently to do in the evenings. No problems with sunbeds as loads always avaliable no matter what time you surfaced! Great location too nice walks also free bus to and from beach every 30 mins!
Would we go back? No is the honest answer as this place is like Butlins in the sun!!!! Not my cup of tea!
4 STARS Soleil plage is in a magnificent site, along the Dordogne river (canoeing, fishing, swimming on the beach) in front of an impressive cliff, in a green landscape full of trees and meadows.
Either you are in a camping pitch, a mobile-home or a chalet, you can meet in the centre called "the village" with its fountain, its beautiful flowers, restaurant from simple to "grande cuisine", take-away, bar, terrasses, minimart and a welcoming multilingual RECEPTION which was allowed this year, the price "l'etoile d'OR of the best camping du SUD OUEST". Plenty to do inside, sports-wise, aquatic park entertainment and outside in this CASTLE COUNTRY, middle-age towns and villages and markets, Neolithic caves, golf, balloon, accrobranche, bicycle, hiking. So easy to fly from many English cities with low cost Ryan air & FLYBE to Bergerac, where you could hire a car.
First time for me, but I have already booked fro 2006 because the high season is almost full.
No surprise : the region is invaded by BRITS...
We stayed here Sept 05. Is quite a drive from Oban-about 3 miles, so you would need transport, although I did see a bus stop right outside the gates. Is fairly cheap-£11 per night for 2 people & 1 tent, and has a camping cooking area.
the campsite has beautiful views, and has a slight wind all the time, as near the sea, so keeps the midges away.
The showers are a bit dangerous if you are not able bodied, and you have to pay 20p to use the hairdryer, which runs out just when you need it!
There is an outside washing up area with warm/hot water.
I would go again because of the area.
there is no bar on site, so take your own booze!
Unless you are secretly an elephant, and as such have a fantastic memory, if you want to write a decent travel op you might well have to do some work while you're away. Unlike a book or a film, you can't just re-read or re-watch a trip, and hard as I've tried, taking a museum, town or country back home with you doesn't really work. For this reason I've split this op into two sections - what you need to do while you're wherever you're writing about, and what you need to do when you get home again. WHILE YOU'RE THERE: While I'd suggest you jot things down while you're away. I don't expect you to walk through a museum or sit at a table in a restaurant making notes the whole time. Back at the hotel while your other half's in the bath is fine, because if you've paid attention during the day, the details will still be fresh in your mind. I keep a diary all year round, and have done for years. I can tell you what I did on this day last year (I was in the UK between trips, eating vegetarian bacon like it was going out of fashion) but I can also tell you exactly what I thought of Pisa's tower last November, and my first impressions of Slovakia the summer before last. I wouldn't go so far as to say you should all take up journal keeping immediately, but an old note book and a couple of pens when you're away never go amiss. Each night, make a note of anything special that's happened to you that day, be it funny, strange or down right embarrassing, and by the time you come back you'll already have the makings of a great op. It's the anecdotes, in my opinion, that bring opinions to life, after all the Louvre has had the same paintings in it for decades, and if someone wanted to see a listing of works there I'm sure they could find it on the internet somewhere, but what they won't find is a warning to "wear sturdy shoes if you have them with you. The overly pol
ished floors in the east wing especially can lead to some embarrassing incidents for stiletto wearers rushing from exhibit to exhibit". Don't waste time writing down the opening times and admission prices for everywhere you visit. I'm not saying they're not important, but this info can usually be found on one of the many free leaflets they have at the entrance. Pop one of these in your bag for later reference, and even if they don't have an English version, pick one up - assuming the country in question uses our alphabet, you can usually work it out. WHEN YOU GET BACK: Some things to think about. * Should you *really* be writing this? Do you know the place or monument or airline inside out? Are you sure you won't be able to find out more in the upcoming months? I'd been in Heidelberg for over 10 months and knew quite a bit about the place, but I didn't write my opinion until July, because I just knew I'd have even more to say by then. If you've visited Vienna and Salzburg, do you really think you're equipped to write an op on "Austria in general"? Maybe two separate ones on each city would be better. Similarly, if you did a whirlwind tour of Europe 3 years ago, and spent only one day in Milan, never having returned since, are you sure you know the city well enough to be telling the rest of us what to expect? * If you can't remember, forget! Ever the user of the clearest sentences on the planet, I think I'd better explain this one. This time last week I was in Ibiza. We went out for a lunch at a place down by the sea, but I wasn't fully awake so I didn't notice the name, or much of what was on the menu apart from what I ordered. I also didn't pick up the bill, so I've no idea how much a meal for 2 came to. Though it was a charming place, with pleasant staff and delicious food, it's not getting a mention in my fort
hcoming op on the island. Why? Because from a reader's point of view there's nothing I find more irritating than statements along the lines of "I went to this gorgeous little restaurant about 5 minutes walk from the hotel but I can't remember the name". Throw in a "and they did good pasta but I can't remember what else they had on offer" and an "I think the prices were ok but I didn't really look" and you'll find me off screaming in a corner somewhere. Just what is the point in saying any of that? No one, not even those living in resort would be able to find the place in question after that "description", so why bother including it? You can't just pop back on holiday to look up the details, so if you cannot remember the vital bits, forget about including it. * Write about what you are meant to be writing about You want to write a review of a city? That's lovely, but bear in mind what the important word is here: "city". It's not a review of your flight or ferry ride over, nor a write up of the hotel you stayed in. These are all good things to review, but in the correct category, not here. That being said, people might want to know some good places to eat. While we don't want a full restaurant review in this category, mentioning a few names is ok, as is listing a website you found really useful: "The Good Food France Guide has an array of listings for this city, plus clear directions on how to get to each restaurant. We found the ones we tried to be just as described on the site, so it's well worth a look." * Prove you've been there On a site I shall not name I once perfomed a little experiment: I wrote a travel op on a place I've never been, basing the info on general knowledge and two useful, widely visited travel sites. Not a single person picked up on this, and some even praised me for me thoughtful and usefu
l account..... Anyone can read a guidebook or visit a site, so the point of a travel op, again, just in my opinion, is to add the things these don't tell you. For example, say you're staying in a large, widely visited hotel. In this case it's the "insider-info" that is of most use: "When you make your booking at the Xaloc apartments, request number 12 on the 3rd floor - it's a corner apartment that gives you a view of the sea and the pool, but since it's at the back you avoid the noise from the main road which most other rooms suffer from". Stuff like that, that only someone who has been there would know. * Be relevant and up to date I have been known, on more than one occasion, to write opinions on places I visited a week ago, but also those from visits a month or year ago. This isn't always a bad thing, but make sure your facts are up to date. No one cares that it used to be open 9am to 10pm 7 days a week if it's since started opening only in the afternoons at weekends. Also, although you might have seen the best El Greco exhibition ever, if it's since moved on this is of little use to people about to visit the place in question. (For the record, the El Greco's not particularly bon, and seems to be following me around the continent at the moment, in a not very nice, actually quite scary way). * Appreciate how facts can add to an op, but don't over do it There are some things would be travelers are bound to want to know. Typical flying time from the UK, for instance. Time difference. Important local customs: "Being a Muslim country, walking around the city center in nothing but your bikini and flip-flops is not to be recommended, no matter how hot it is. However, there are similarly a number of facts that just clog up travel opinions, and serve" no useful purpose. The population, for example. Unless you have something specific to say, for example if y
ou stayed in the remotest of remote places ("Sa Caleta is so small you soon realize that the hotel waiter is also the local taxi driver and airport customs officer. This really adds to the charm of the place") then leave them out. Remember you're writing predominantly for a British audience. Over here the Germans can get a bit obsessed - I'm constantly being asked the population of my home town, to which I have to answer that I just don't have a clue. It's not something I've been brought up to be bothered about, so telling me that you lovely little fishing village in Spain has a population of 26 000 means nothing to me. The same applies to the size of any country / town. * Finish with some web resources if you can Hopefully you've inspired people to thing about the place you're been talking about (if it's a positive op!). So why not add a link or two as a further reading resource for them? Not only that, add your own (brief!) views on them: "I did a lot of research on the net before our trip, and these 2 sites were the ones I found the most helpful" is so much more useful then "I just searched Yahoo and these were the top 5 sites though I've not visited them so I've no idea if they'll be of use to anyone". ** Don't forget, the usual "how to write" garb applies here too - spell check, read through before you post, be relevant, yadda, yadda, yadda. I don't need to tell you it all again, right? ** I love travel ops, and I'm much more likely to browse this category than, say, the food one, but I have to resort to other areas now and then because not enough people write about their holidays. Hotels. Airlines. Theme parks. Whole countries. I enjoy reading about them all, and any problems you encounter are just part of the fun reading experience if you dig schadenfreude as I do. So please, please people, start writing more of them, o
I write great travel opinions, that certainly is my forte on Dooyoo. I usually don't like to give out my recipes but I will do so in the best interest of the Dooyoo community. Most of you have gotten wise to the fact that I live vicariously through an imaginary character, an american locomotive driver called "Cammij". I have always been enamored with America, my mum says that my grandfather may have been an American (I am more certain of my grandmother and her eagerness to drop her knickers for a few bob for the American Doughboys). I am a fifty year old Fish and Chips shop manager living in a council flat with my mum near Kings Cross Station. I am a trainspotter and actually have published a couple books on BR. But still I want to be this enigma called Cammij, for instance lkast week I saw a spotter reading my first book on BR and I approached him and asked what he thought of the book and he said that the author was a senseless Git who should be laid across the rails. I meekly apologized to the nasty bloke and cowered away. I know that my FrankenCammij would have smashed him across the face as he is the working man's James Bond, a man who solves all his problems with unrefined violence and brutality. A man who knows how to talk to women too. My alter Ego. I wish I could drive locomotives in Wyoming and have sex with women of all races in America, but I am afraid to fly and Mum needs me about the house, so I don't get to travel much, actually not much, but never. I ride the tube now and then and take a holiday up to Rosslyn chapel since I wish I were a Freemason, but not travelling doesn't prevent me from writing excellent travel opinions. I know a lot of you have read this much and decided that Jim MacBride (my real name) is what happens when working class people are let into smart places. And I can detect your Kensington drawls in your caustic & Sarky comments as you ridicule me. But here is the recipe of a great tr
avel opinion. 1. Pick a place that nobody else has already covered. How many generic opinions on Berlin or Dublin's Temple Bar can we need on Dooyoo? Dooyoo's advantage over the print media and other travel sites is that it is organic and the staff will accomondate your request for a topic if it doesn't exist. So if I wanted to write about Cheyenne, Wyoming or Caspar, Wyoming I could e-mail the staff and they would make it up for me. 2. Expose the dark side of the moon, show us something new and unique. We can all use a mouse and find dull cookie cutter opinions that talk about dining and accomondations and attractions. In all likelihood when a person reads an op on a travel destination they already know whats there and their travel agent has found them a place to stay. So instead tell about the best place to find a Bulgarian hooker in Taranto, which Swedish girl is the easiest barmaid in Prague and the best place to score some crack rock or Grass in Orlando. People who read my opinions genuinely appreciate the information I give about the "otehr side of the tracks". 3. Don't lose the forest while looking at the trees. Sometimes the general cultural context is lost when minimalizing the scope of the opinion and not covering the general population. For instance if I were to write about Utah I would talk about what splendid folks those Mormons are, but I would also do my duty and remind you that the typical American is a gun toting barbarian who wants to argue about Ireland or the movie Braveheart when he has a moment of glory when he detects a British accent in your speech. 4. Tell people how much everything costs. Lots of opinions and sites are very guarded about appearing as though money matters to anyone. Money matters to me, I am only making 15,000 quid a year and need my Dooyoo miles to pay my piped TV bill, you damn well better believe I want to know how much a decent sack of crisps cost in Manh
atten or how much a Turkish prostitue in Larnaca who isn't too smelly will cost. I love Dooyoo and people like Ophelia and Weeze since they cross the line of "what happens when working class people are let into smart places" and tell us what things cost when we travel. People the world over are fascinated by what thuings cost in other places. I know I am at least. At least I like to envy these other places that have cheap pints. 5. Make fun of every other place and remind the readers that for some reason when our kindred Saxon people spread all over the world that our own ancestors made the right choice to stay on our little grey clump of hills in the cold North Sea. For instance if you are writing about Crete, try to balance their beauty and weather with comments about skin cancer and an over [population of German tourists. 6. Give links to other sites. Particulary useful are directories and "fun sites" that go further in depth about a destination, and simply are more depraved and vulgar than what the Dooyoo staff will tolerate. 7. Give good travel info, tell what charters and airlines you have used to get there and expound on their merits and shortcomings, do they let you get sloppy drunk in air? Do the stewardesses (I know the PC term in flight attendant but I like to call them Stewardesses) let you paw them? People like to know what the flights are like.
Dream a little dream of me. The Mammas and the Pappas. Strange that anyone should really be telling another individual how to write an opinion, as then surely its not their opinion, but more of a type cast, set in stone, monotonous piece of heartless writing. Or maybe this should be titled “How I, repeat, I, like to write a travel review!” then it is not so patronising, and more of an insight into how my mind works, and how, if at all, I can influence you in any way. I love to be entertained, and think of travelling as an adventure. I have visited 80 different countries, all the continents, and some places, such as Gibraltar, as many as ten times. My love for travelling came about from reading books by an author known as Gerald Durell, who wrote a series of books portraying his childhood on Corfu, right the way through to his Zoo building exploits on Jersey, including the expeditions he made to such startling countries as Madagascar, where he found the Ring-Tailed Lemurs, Cameroon, where he befriended the Don, and many, many over countries, each one made into a fabulous, almost Knight of the round table style, adventure. This influenced my beliefs and the way I now write travel ops, both here on Dooyoo, and across the water, at Ciao. Right, now that I have explained where I am coming from, let me carry on and explain how I structure them, if you could call it structure. JOURNEY I try and give you an introduction into how I managed to get to the place. If I flew, I will say a small amount about the airport maybe, or the flight, or even the ease of arrival. The same goes if I drive or sail, I try and explain in storyteller fashion, so that you can visualise what I am experiencing, and even picture the journey in your mind. An example of this can be found in my Cherbourg op, for instance, where I explain what I see from the windscreen of the car as I pull out of the ferry’s hol
d. If the journey itself is the adventure, then I would go into a lot more detail about what the journey has to offer, again, my P&O ferries op, where the night crossing was fantastic, like a disco at sea! I don’t always write in the same style, and try to diversify, to increase my readers and also to appeal to a wider audience. THE PLACE/DESTINATION An important part of your review/story is that of where you are and where you are staying. Here, I try and give you a first impression, before moving on to the detailed breakdown of the accommodation and the area as a whole. In order to understand my workings, and not have to read too deeply into the meaning, I try and help you to visualise by writing what is in my mind, thus allowing you to share my thoughts, and my memories. In my Panama City beach op for instance, I dream back to how the sand bellow my feet was like cotton wool, and how the sea encompassed my body with warmth like a mother, etc, feelings that I had and want you to try and empathise with my feelings, be there with me, in a way, and I hope that I can help you understand what it would be like to be standing on the beach alongside me. If I had to coin a phrase, I would say I write like a pop up book, and every time you turn a page, I hope to jump out at you, rather than be an analytical travellers guide, of which, sadly, there are many. EXPLORING You absolutely must, must, must explore the place and give an insight into what you saw. I do this by casting my mind back to when I first turned that corner and saw the monkey on top of my chalet (Mombassa) or the shanty shack in Guadeloupe. I visualise walking towards the object and reliving the day, in my own mind. I try and put the emotion of the experience into play, and characterise the people, to let them also become part of the story. I try to up tempo the joyous events, and downplay the horrific side’s of s
uch country’s, like the dead baby being flung into my taxi by a street beggar in Karachi, Pakistan. I also like to try and describe the landscape in a panoramic fashion, allowing other minds to scan the whole picture, making their own mind map of what the scenery is like, and visualise his or herself walking along the beach, or maybe sitting in a Moorish monastery, sipping mead from small clay pots. Again, I try and wake the mind up to the feelings that surround me at the time. EXPERIENCE I try to add as much information about cafes, restaurants, bars and shops into the story without flooding it and making it just another “guess where I have been?” and “guess what I did?” opinion, as I don’t believe they help anyone or that they are even enjoyable to read. Sure, they give me stacks of basic information, but a menu is a menu, until you have tasted the food. I believe that there are many good guides to places, most available from all leading book shops and some even available free of charge on the internet, but there are so few books like My Family and Other Animals, Gerald Durell, which take you to the heart of the journey and make you want to close your eyes and be there. It would be far too presumptuous of me to even suggest that I do this, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t my goal when I started typing a travel op onto my PC. OVERALL There is no right or wrong way to write an op on anything, providing you include all the relevant information and cover all the angles, and of course, that you have been to the places you write about. Each person must be encouraged to pursue the writing style that gives them so much pleasure to share, never put down for trying to please, and never judged for trying to help other people become better within. Follow the guidelines of your heart and let your mind write for you, and you will never ever have to se
nd me a postcard, for the picture will be clear from your writing skills. Thank you, and enjoy writing. Angus Reid 37 Aged in an oak casket, matured well past his years, and bottled for sale to ancient mariners like himself ;o)
Hi there. Thanks for asking for my advice, surprisingly few people do, you know. Over the course of this opinion, I hope to give you the benefit of my advice about how to write a good travel opinion. Now, before I start offering it, I feel I ought to clear up a potential source of misunderstanding, and attempt to pre-empt some of the criticism this opinion might receive. In this opinion, I will be giving advice about how to write a Travel opinion in a style that I personally find very useful. There are plenty of other ways to write Travel opinions, and by writing this opinion, I am not attempting to reduce the validity of these other styles - I am merely expressing my preferences, and attempting to convey which information I feel is most important to include in a Travel opinion. I trust that this distinction is clear. ABOUT ME The travel bug. Itchy feet. I have these things. The only barrier to my travel is my financial situation. It all started back in 1998, when I was sent to a tiny village, halfway up a mountain in East Switzerland for a population genetics conference. Sitting on a train station in the picturesque little village of Ziegelbrücke, waiting for a connecting train, I suddenly got an odd feeling - a pang of independence, if you will. I was far (well, relatively far) from home, on my own, and it was up to me to get where I was going. With hindsight, it seems pretty inconsequential - it's not as if Switzerland's the other side of the world or anything - but at the time, it was quite a powerful experience. But basically, since then, travel's seemed easy - just a case of making it happen. Since then, I've travelled as much as my meagre finances have allowed. My main reason for writing on dooyoo is to try to encourage other people to travel more. Yes, I'm well aware of the constraints that finances can put on travel... all too well aware, as it happens... but all the same, I tend to reserve my
greatest enthusiasm for encouraging others to experience other cultures and ways of life. In terms of what I enjoy seeing, I love observing mankind's achievements first hand, so for me, seeing buildings and construction projects are generally higher priority than seeing nature's beauty. That's not to say I don't enjoy seeing natural beauty but, by way of analogy, I enjoyed visiting the Terracotta Warriors and walking through the bustling streets of Hong Kong more than cruising down the Li River. That's not to say I didn't enjoy the latter, more that personally I prefer to see and celebrate human accomplishments. So, during my tenure on dooyoo, I've written some seventy-one Travel opinions (about a quarter of them), of which nineteen have received crowns. Since November 2000, I have been the Travel category guide at dooyoo, and am the longest serving category guide. CLARIFICATION OF MY ROLE As Travel category guide, my role is to read the majority of opinions submitted to the category, and advise dooyoo if I feel opinions are misplaced, inappropriate or worthy of consideration for a crown. Now, at this point, particularly given the ill will over the distribution of crowns that seems so prevalent on the site at the moment, I feel I ought to explain this latter responsibility. Essentially, every two or three days, I email staff at dooyoo with a list of opinions that fall into any of these three categories. In the case of the latter (the "worthy of consideration for a crown" category), I will usually list more opinions than I feel are worthy of receiving a crown, and attach a brief explanation of their merits for the dooyoo staff's perusal. These opinions will all then be read by someone at dooyoo, who will decide which of them, if any, to award crowns to. It is not necessary for me to read an opinion for it to receive a crown, or even be considered for one - all members of the site
can nominate opinions for crowns, and the staff will also consider opinions nominated in this way. Similarly, if I don't believe that an opinion should receive a crown, it does not preclude it from ever getting one - the decision is taken by dooyoo staff. ADVICE There are two segments to the advice included in this opinion. First, there is basic advice, which applies equally to all the areas within the Travel category, and then there is specific advice for the different types of Travel opinion (e.g. city, individual tourist attractions, airlines, etc.). BASIC ADVICE My first, and most important piece of advice for writing a Travel opinion is that you should actually have visited the place (or used the service) that you're writing about. For self-evident reasons, it's impossible for anyone to actually offer worthwhile advice to other consumers about something that they have no experience of. Probably most people reading this will think this is a spectacularly fatuous and redundant piece of advice, but you'd be surprised how many people try to write an opinion offering advice on somewhere they've not actually been, or are currently planning to visit. One of the worst examples of this is in the case of online travel services, where people have been known to write an opinion about a website that they have visited, but have not attempted to actually book a service from the company. The worn analogy of judging a book by its cover springs to mind in this case. In fairness, if the person has attempted to book a service from an online company, and found their progress repeatedly stymied in some way that prevented them from booking, then their advice and experience would be valuable, despite not having actually fully used the service. My second piece of advice is a fundamental complaint that I have about opinions in general on dooyoo. I find it very difficult to read opinions that do not have good stand
ards of spelling and grammar. The easiest way to improve your spelling and grammar is by typing your opinions into a word-processor, rather than directly into dooyoo, running them through a spell checker, and then reading the opinion back to yourself aloud. Usually, by doing this, you can spot obvious grammatical errors, or repetitive sections of your opinion that could be improved by editing. If, for example, you write something like "The sea front at this lovely little Greek village is incredibly lovely. There is a series of lovely little shops here, and the sea is lovely and blue," you might not notice your lack of diversity in adjective choice... but the chances are that a reader will, and you certainly will if you read it back to yourself. Similarly, when reading back, I tend to notice where I've used the wrong form of "your/you're", "its/it's", "there/their/they're" and so on. Finally, my third piece of general advice concerning writing Travel opinions is to do with style. There are three main styles of oft-submitted opinion which I don't feel adequately meet the dooyoo brief; the "travelogue", the "travel brochure", and the "guidebook". This is not to say that these styles are not without their merits, but I believe that the most important thing for a dooyoo opinion is to convey information and opinion in a clear and interesting way, and I'll explain why (in general) these three styles of writing don't always meet this brief. --- a. the travelogue Unless you're Bill Bryson, Michael Palin, or William Dalrymple (in which case, what are you doing wasting your talents on dooyoo?) travelogues can be spectacularly dull, particularly for someone who just wants to read information about, and your impressions of, a place or product. For example, let's imagine an opinion on New York City. You're thinking about going
on holiday there for a long weekend in a couple of months, but aren't sure if it'll suit you, or what to do when you're there. You visit dooyoo and look through some opinions on the city, and stumble across a 4,000 word monstrosity that starts with "One April afternoon I settled down at home with the guidebooks I'd picked up from Lunn Poly earlier that day, and tried to decide where to go. I had picked up many city break guidebooks, thinking that I would spoil myself with a shopping expedition...". Once the writer actually gets to New York, some 1,000 words later, you're greeted with "My first day in the Big Apple! I got up early at about 7:30am, because I was determined to fit everything in, and quickly woke up my boyfriend. He was very tired because he doesn't cope very well with jetlag...". I don't know about you, but by this stage, I'm virtually comatose, and I haven't learnt anything about the city yet. I've learned about how the writer makes their travel plans, and their boyfriend's sleeping habits, but nothing that I actually went to the opinion for. Now, once the opinion actually gets to recounting visits to museums or art galleries, it might become very informative, offering a brief description of what to see there, and the like. But, by that stage, I've given up - particularly if after 50 words about the Guggenheim - we go back to 200 words about an argument over a pair of shoes the writer's bought from Gucci, or something. Alright, I've made that point in a spectacularly overlaboured and exaggerated way, but you see the distinction. A travelogue is rarely the clearest or most concise way to convey the sort of information that a consumer (which could be you one day) would most likely be looking for. However, having said that, travelogues can often give a very good personal account of what it is like to visit a place, and this is the best feature of this style of w
riting, to my mind. b. the travel brochure This is a relatively rare style of opinion. Essentially, a travel brochure opinion tells me nothing that I couldn't get from reading material from the city or country's tourist information centre, generally attaching a level of overenthusiasm to everything. A hypothetical New York City opinion in this style might read; "Why not visit New York City this Autumn? There's so much to see, from the Empire State Building, with its incredible views over the busy island of Manhattan, to the glitzy shops of Fifth Avenue. Autumn's the ideal time to visit the city, as it gears up for the Christmas celebrations, giving New York a real buzz that makes it the most exciting city in the world!" I've learnt nothing about the writer here, nor do I have any impression that they've actually visited New York City. How do I know I can trust their opinion, when they read like a travel brochure? There are no personal impressions offered (though the writer could claim that the adjectives they've used were their own choice, and reflect their impressions). The other problem with the travel brochure style opinion is that it rarely offers useful information for the would-be visitor - such as how to get to the place being written about, how to get around it, how much it costs to get there, and so on. However, a "travel brochure" style opinion is not without its merits. Generally, such an opinion contains the most important facts that would influence a decision to go to the place. In the case of the hypothetical opinion given above, the opinion does, at least, suggest reasons why someone might want to visit New York, and give a vague impression of what the city is like. c. the guidebook The third type of opinion, and the style which I am most prone to falling into, is the "guidebook" style. This style of opinion focuses on list
ing what there is to see in a museum or city, without attaching much personality into it, or adequately expressing any kind of opinion. For example, (and I quote from one of my own opinions here, a (rightfully-uncrowned one) on the National Air and Space Museum in Washington), "The 'Air Transportation' gallery, which is where you'll find the main entrance to the museum while the renovation work is carried out, allows you to see the evolution of air transport for carrying people, mail and cargo. Essentially, the planes on display are all from the so called Golden Age of flight, from the 1926 Ford Tri-Motor and Douglas M-2, through to the 1937 Grumman G-21 Amphibian, via the 1933 Boeing 247D, the first modern airliner, and the 1935 Douglas DC-3." Now, if you were specifically interested in where you could see a Grumman G-21 Amphibian aeroplane on display in a museum somewhere in the world, this would be extremely useful information. However, I concede that the majority of readers who would encounter my opinion would have little interest in which specific aeroplanes are on display in each gallery, and a much briefer paragraph describing my impressions of the style of presentation and how informative the exhibition was, would have served much better. The same sort of problem often occurs in opinions on theme parks, which can often fall into the trap of simply listing the rides, with a sentence of description for each. It would be far better if the writer had focused on two or three typical examples, and written more about them, and added a sentence acknowledging that "There were dozens of other rides available too, ranging from childrens' carousels to huge rollercoasters." The advantage of a guidebook style is obvious - the writer informs the reader about what there is to see and do in a place - however, when it does so at the expense of conveying information concisely, this is a problem. -
-- So, having discussed the positive and negative aspects of these styles, how do I think people should write? Well, the most important thing, to my mind, is that information, advice and impressions of a place or service should be expressed in a clear and interesting manner. Personal experience and individual impressions are vitally important, however, it is important that their description or narration doesn't obfuscate the most important consumer information. If an amusing incident happened to you when on holiday somewhere which you think would amuse readers, it might be good to parenthesise it out, so that a reader who just wants to read information and your impressions can easily skip the anecdote... while leaving it available for those readers who enjoy reading personal accounts. In terms of how to write, personally, I find it useful to have my photographs and guidebooks of places I have visited available when I'm writing about them, to refresh my memory about what I did and where. I always end my opinions with two or three concluding paragraphs now, which summarise the most important information from the rest of the opinion in an easy-to-read way for someone looking for a very brief indication of my impressions of the city. SPECIFIC ADVICE a. City and Country opinions If you're writing an opinion about a city or a country that you have visited, it would be good to start off with an explanation of why you chose to visit that country (if indeed you did), and how long you spent there. This sort of information is very useful to a reader, as it allows them to judge how well your situation compares with their own, and how much they can trust your opinion. For example, someone considering a family holiday to Amsterdam might find an opinion by someone who has chosen to go there for drugs and sex and only spent 24 hours there, less relevant than another parent's opinion on the city.
Another important issue to include is how you got to the city or country, and why you chose to go there that way. If someone is considering travelling somewhere, they might not be clear about the best way to get there, or might not have considered all the options. Also, it might be worth mentioning early on in the opinion how much of the city or country you saw. If you visited a city for a few days on business, it seems unlikely that you would have seen as much of the city as someone who visited for a week for leisure, and this sort of information might help a reader decide how relevant an opinion is to them. In the case of a country opinion, if you only visited one region, you might have a very biased opinion of it. For example, an Iceland in general opinion written by someone who never left the Reykjanes peninsula might not give a very broad impression of the country. It is also important to mention how you got around the city or country when you were there. Did you use private or public transport? What were the transportation networks like? Someone who visited Paris and only ever used taxis is going to have a very different impression of what it's like to get around the city than someone who used the Metro. Where did you stay? Were the hotels comparable with other places that you've stayed for similar prices? Were other options available? Accommodation is an important part of any holiday, and a rough indicator of the standards that a visitor can expect seems an important part of the opinion. While exact figures of prices aren't really necessary, an indication of the relative price would be useful - e.g. "Guest houses in central Istanbul are cheaper than comparable places in most European cities." What are the options like for food in the country? Are you limited to local cuisine, or are more cosmopolitan options available? How do prices compare with restaurants back home? Are there other options,
other than restaurants? A brief mention of the shopping options in the city wouldn't go amiss, possibly suggesting some favourite shops, or less obvious souvenir suggestions, and a vague indication of price. What tourist attractions are available? Are they worth visiting, in your opinion? If you didn't visit all of the tourist attractions, it can still be worth mentioning ones that you didn't visit, if you wish you had! It's also worth mentioning any other aspects of the city or country that you think would be interesting to someone considering visiting. For example, in my opinion on Istanbul, I mention the country's rampant inflation - mainly because the economic situation is so dire there that it's worth not getting any Turkish currency until you're actually out there, to ensure that it doesn't devalue too much! Of course, throughout the opinion, as I mention above, it can be interesting to drop in references to personal anecdotes relating to your experiences... but think about how interesting and relevant they would be to a reader who doesn't know you! b. Specific tourist attractions Writing about a specific tourist attraction, many of the same points as in the "City or Country opinions" apply. Why did you choose to visit this tourist attraction? How long did you spend there? Was that about the right length of time, or would you have liked longer? For someone planning how to spend their time on holiday in a city or country, it would be useful to know how long to allow for visiting the various tourist attractions. What were the main things to see at the tourist attraction? What was your impression of the place? Would you go again? Specifics like the entrance fee and hours of opening aren't essential. These details are prone to change, and up-to-date information can be found in guidebooks. If an attraction regularly closes early, it mi
ght be worth mentioning this, but the details of the exact hours are not essential. Similarly, giving the exact entrance fee isn't necessary, but an indication of roughly how much it was, and whether this seemed like too much or about right, is more important. c. Airline opinions Airlines seem to attract a lot of opinions, but seem to get very few good opinions. The most important factors to cover are the price, the check-in service, and the flight. Firstly, you should mention the extent of your experience with the airline. If you've only flown once with a company, then obviously your opinion could give an unfairly biased impression of the airline, and a reader should be aware of this from the start. Similarly, you should give an indication of the amount of travelling that you do - if you've not flown many times before, the reader would like to be aware of this. Next, it's worth mentioning why you flew with the airline that you did. There's no shame in admitting that the decision was an economic one. If that airline is consistently cheap for the trip that you undertook, than this is useful information for a reader. The airline operates the check-in desk in the airline, so it's worth mentioning the quality of service provided at check-in. How early could you check-in before the flight? Were the queues long? Did they have several desks open? Were the staff friendly and helpful? Are seats allocated at check-in, or at the gate, or do you have to wait till you get to the plane? Next, the in-flight service. I'm sick of reading opinions by people who've only ever flown once complaining that the seat in front is too close. That's how aeroplanes are. If you're going to comment on the amount of legroom available, please try to convey how the amount of legroom compares with other flights you've made. What type of plane did you fly on? Is this the only type of plane that t
he airline uses? Did the plane look old? How clean was the interior? What was the in-flight entertainment like? Were there any television screens? If so, where were they located? Was there a choice of programming? Were any complimentary food or drinks included in the price of your ticket? What were they like? If you specified a special meal, did you get it? Could you buy duty free gifts en route? Was there a wide choice available? How long was the journey scheduled to take? Did the plane leave on time? Did it arrive on time? Did you have to confirm your flights beforehand? If so, did you have any trouble contacting the airline by phone? d. Airports In writing an opinion on an airport, there are a large number of subjects to consider, much as with the airline opinions. How easy is the airport to get to? How far is it from the city centre? Is it served by rail, coaches, etc.? If you drive to the airport, is ample parking provided, and how expensive is it? How expensive is public transport to the airport? Is there a large taxi rank outside? What sort of destinations do planes from the airport serve (short haul, long haul, package destinations)? Within the airport itself, how well organised is it? How is the signposting? How clean is the airport? If the airport has several termini, can you get between them easily? Is it easy to work out which terminus to go to for your flight? Could you find the check-in desk for your airline easily? What are the shops like in the main concourse? What are the shops like after the security check? How do you get from the main concourse to the gates (is there a monorail system, as at Stansted and Chep Lap Kok, for example)? How do you get from the gates to the planes - via buses, by walking across the tarmac, or do the planes directly link to the gates via umbilici? e. Services To write a good opinion about a travel service (information websi
tes, online accommodation or flight booking sites, and so on), it really is necessary to have actually used the service. It scarcely seems relevant to comment on how useful a site seems, unless you've actually had cause to use it. It's difficult to give specific questions to be answered in this type of Travel opinion, due to the sheer diversity of subjects that could be written about. The important thing to do really is to think about what questions you'd like answered, if you were considering using the service, (or would have liked answers to before using it yourself), and then write about your experiences answering these questions. SUMMARY The most important factors to writing a good Travel opinion: - Provide information in a clear and direct way - Think about the information you would have liked to know about a place or service, and make sure you answer those questions for other consumers - Include your personal impressions of the place or service - If you want to provide anecdotes, think how useful they'd be to someone who didn't know you. If they're not important, then consider parenthesising them, or leaving them out. As I explained earlier, this is just my opinion of what constitutes a good Travel opinion, and what I look for when reading them every couple of days. I'm not trying to suggest that this is the best, or the only, way to write Travel opinions, just that I find opinions written in this way to be the most useful style of presentation for consumers - who are, after all, the group that dooyoo opinions should be aimed at.