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Suggestion for newcomers to the Travelers Helpline

When you post a question on here, try and give us as much information as possible. Dates, budget, interests, how many people in your group, if you are traveling with kids, how old are they, and so on. The more info you give, the better of an answer you will get. So many of the posts lately have been just one sentence and this makes it hard for us to guess what you want.

Scroll through the Helpline a bit and see if your answer is already there. Things like where should I get my Euro, what is there to see in Paris or Munich or Berlin, which castle should I visit, how long does the train take from Frankfurt to Paris, and so on. Take a look at the Graffiti Wall and see what kind of information is on there that will be helpful for you. If you do not have a guide book, at least spend a bit of time in your local library looking up your potential destinations or look online. Use Google to look at the towns and cities or castles you want to visit.

You have space on here to post quite lengthy questions, so you are not limited to using just 100 letters. We all like helping, but do try to do a bit of research first.

Posted by
15477 posts

Excellent. Also:

Be specific in your HEADING so we have a clue whether we can offer advice. Otherwise your question is likely to be ignored. Avoid titles like: Day Trip, What's the Weather Like, and Help!

Choose the right forum. You will get more and better answers. But please don't post the same question on different helplines, it confuses.

Posted by
10344 posts

You can use Google Advanced Search, instead of the Search box in upper right corner of this page (inefficient), to find prior discussions. Go here click here for exact instructions on how to use Google Advanced Search to find any discussion that's been had here in the last several years.

Posted by
12040 posts

Another bit of advice to younger posters: Many of us who came of age before Instant Messaging and Blackberry have difficulty interpreting standard American "text-speak". You can probably get more replies from experienced travelers (many of whom tend to be older) by typing clearly written, grammatical, punctuated sentences.

Posted by
182 posts

Good stuff Jo! Now, how do we keep this on/near the top of the list so it will be seen often? Want to take turns adding a post when it gets below the top 10?

Posted by
182 posts

Kent - as I think about things, it also seems like this would also be a good post to add to each section since not everyone hits them all. Great news though on the potential upgrades!

Posted by
1452 posts

I am sure that Jo's original message was meant to help folks with questions get more out of the board. Many of the following points are well made. Still, there have been a couple threads lately that might discourage some folks from posting at all.

If this board only had questions that had not been asked before, were fully researched in advance and well written, this board might die a quick death.

It is fun to read what other people know about traveling. Just as soon as I think that I know something about a place, someone will ask a "dumb question" and the answer will shed a new light on it. Yes, I get a little impatient with questions like, "I have ten days in Europe, what's not to miss?" Still, the answers are sometimes illuminating.

Let's not purify the board out of existence.

Regards, Gary

Posted by
8768 posts

I don't want to "purify" the board, I am trying to get people to put enough information in their post so that we have something to work with. For example, someone says "I am coming to Europe with my kids in Aug. Should we take a train or drive? Is it hot then? How expensive will the rooms be."

So, we have no idea where in Europe, Italy or Finland. The kids turn out to be college students, not small children, one boy, one girl, so they will not want to share a bed. They also cannot ride for free on the train. Their budget turns out to be 100 € a night, and so on and so on.

If this information was in the original post, we could give them a lot better answers. Instead of recommending a children's museum, or telling them to go to a hotel where the cots are free, or that it is 95° in Aug. but it turns out they are going to Iceland.

See what I mean?

Posted by
3580 posts

My suggestion to all is to ask only one question at a time, make the question clear, and give it an appropriate title. Rather than "Easter Travel," title it "Easter Services in Paris" or "Hotels in Rome Easter Weekend." I scroll thru the Helpline and stop at topics that catch my eye and have some specificity about them. When I see "CT" for example, I don't stop. When I see "Lodging in CT" I might stop and consider giving an answer.

Posted by
24 posts

Thanks Jo. Believe it or not I was considering making a similar post since this happens so often. Here's a bump!

Posted by
107 posts

just bumping. But I agree with both Jo and GaryMc, we don't want to "purify" the forums, but it would be nice to reduce the chaff some if possible.

I think the key recommendation for any newcomer would be "search first and then post". The Helpline search isn't that great but its better than nothing, and there are several good posts around with recommendations for better search techniques. But even a very quick simple search on the normal Helpline search may point you to a quick answer that will avoid a new topic on one of the forums.
On the other hand some questions (or actually answers) get out of date quicker than others, so a quick search may find an answer from 5 years ago, so then it will be a decision whether to go with that answer or ask for an update.

Posted by
8768 posts

Bumping up to the top of the list.

If there is a thread that you want to keep present, but don't really have anything to add to it, you just "bump" it to the top so others can read it.

Posted by
76 posts

By adding a new reply to a message, it gets 'bumped' up to the top of the list, which probably means that more people see it!

I read the helpline the classic way, so ALL of the topics and threads appear together.

Bumping keeps important ones nearer the top.

Posted by
11 posts

You can also type this into google search bar. "key word"

No space between site:ricksteves

"key word" can be anything that you want to search, even your screen name to find all your own posts.