Pro-Tips help you get the most out of any Stop or Stay. And while you may find a lot of the necessary information as you create your list of Stops and Stays, there are other details that are worth looking for before you begin booking.
It’s helpful to know where to look and exactly what you’re looking for. . . otherwise, you can fall into all kinds of distractions and overwhelm yourself.
Your pro-tip research will look a little bit different depending on how much detail you included when you first created your List of Stops and Stays. The point here is - if you already have the details, great. Then spend a few minutes looking at reviews and grabbing any other tips on how to navigate. And if you don’t have a lot of detail for your stops, now is the time to get it.
Based on the type of Stop or Stay - you have a few options.
For most mainstream Stops, Tripadvisor is a great resource. You can use it to fill in anything that is missing from the stops’ website or Google. The stand out feature of Tripadvisor is the user generated content or “reviews and forums”. There are A LOT of reviews on Tripadvisor but there is a great filter to help you find the reviews that are going to be most relevant for you. So, you can look for others who travelled at the same time of year, by rating (1-5 starts) or even by the type of travel. So, if you’re traveling with your family, you can opt to only read reviews from others who travelled with family. We’d suggested reading 5-7 reviews to get a feel for whether they are pretty consistent. You might read a few 1 star reviews along with the 5 star reviews. But don’t try to read everything! There’s just way too much and it isn’t necessary to read every single one. You’re looking for themes.
The other feature that Tripadvisor offers is their Travel Advice section for certain cities. This includes tips on getting there, getting around and some other tips specific to that city or destination from other travel pros. It’s always worth checking out.
Google also has a great review feature and will show when the busiest times to visit are. . . spend just a few minutes there making sure you’ve got those types of details and again, look at a few reviews.
For offbeat attractions, consider digging a little deeper at Roadside America. Look for other travelers’ comments, tips and definitely check out the “worth a detour” filter. Again, you may have already captured all of this if you used Roadside America to find the stop in the first place, but if you didn’t, now is the time!
You can also - and probably should always - go to the website for that Stop. Look for headings like “Plan Your Visit” to make sure you know their policies, hours, pricing and any special updates like a private event that impacts the usual hours.
Remember, other travelers’ experiences will often reveal things that the stop’s website didn’t. . . for example, they may not have mentioned in their fabulous description that the bathroom only has one stall in a particular wing and the line before going into the exhibit is outrageous. Why would they?! But other travelers who got stuck in that line are likely to reflect on how that particular feature impacted their visit.
These types of pro-tips may not save you money but they will help you have a better time. You can use the restroom before you get there, plan extra time to allow for long lines or, depending on the stop, you may even decide it isn’t worth it.
Whichever resources you use, be sure to look for:
- Wait times
- Tips on reservations or tickets
- Reviews (best and worst)
- Amenities like food/drinks on site, onsite parking?
- Special clothing or gear to increase comfort
- Photo opps and/or best view and access points
- Additional fees for parking and/or certain exhibits
A little bit time researching pro-tips will give you the information you need to really get the most out of your Stops and Stays. A lot of these details will come into play when you create your Daily Itinerary and can pretty dramatically impact your budget. So, you don't have to spend a ton of time here but we'd really encourage you not to skip this altogether!