Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Where to Get Your Travel Advice
This pages is some of my opinions about where to take your travel advice from. Everyone wants to give you advice (including me), but you need to decide which advice to take.
English Village Syndrome?
People very often tell us "You have to see _________ (fill in any town name)". Why? Well, they were there once and liked it. For example, "You have to see Cortona". Well, do we really? Are these people the best ones to advise us? Where else have they been in Italy? What are they comparing it to? Is it truly the best place they have ever seen in Italy?
We call it the "English Village Syndrome". Someone goes to England, sees one village (and it is beautiful) and spends the rest of their life telling people that they have to see that village. But in reality there are hundreds more, if not thousands, just as nice. That person doesn't realize this, because they only saw that one town.
On the other hand, sometimes people have very good advice about places to see. We have discovered wonderful places based on information we have learned from others. Just remember to consider your sources and don't feel obligated to go somewhere just because someone strongly recommends it.
This also applies to vacation rentals. Some people go onto our message board and say "Can anyone recommend a villa in Tuscany?" Then someone else, who maybe has posted five times or less on the board, jumps in with "I rented this villa" and the original poster decides to rent it.
Once again, consider your sources. Do you take the advice of a stranger on a message board just because they seem to have some inside track on a great place or do you read the hundreds of reviews we have on the web site from people who travel every year and really know Europe and vacation rentals?
Psst, I Have a Friend Who Rents out Her Villa
I dislike when someone tells me, or tells someone on the message board, that they know someone who has a great villa and you should contact them for the information. This person will not submit a review of the villa because they say the owner doesn't usually rent it out or doesn't want it known. Why would I want to rent it then? Especially when there are thousands of excellent vacation rentals out there that people do want to rent out.
Maybe my working class roots are showing here, but I feel this is elitist - vacation rentals passed along from friend to friend to be sure "only the right people know about it."
There are lots of great vacation rentals out there with owners who want everyone to book with them. They have web sites, they are represented by agencies - they want you to find them and book with them. Give these people your business; they want it.
This is a past tense version of "think positive" where a person remembers every travel experience as wonderful and tells people not to worry about anything; everything will be wonderful because you are in ________ (fill in the country of your choice). It is true that a bad hotel or vacation rental will not ruin your trip. Trips we loved have sometimes included the occasional less than delightful vacation rental. But, why not be in a great place instead of a not-so-great place? Don't assume that one vacation rental is as good as the next, do your research, read our reviews, talk to people on the message board - find a place that other people have liked.
Translating the Reviews
When reading reviews, try to get a feeling for the person reviewing the place. See if they have other reviews. Some people will never say a bad word about a place; they think a bad review reflects on them somehow. A good review is one that is really honest - they mention a few things that are not perfect about a place, but they recommend it. On the other hand, some places really deserve a totally positive review. I guess you just have to try to read between the lines.
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