I'm curious. What type of information do you personally want to read about in a Trip Report? I've been reading quite a few recently and even shared myself but I really don't know if what I write is of any value to anyone else or if I'm just writing because I'm excited to share (or maybe to stroke my own ego). For example, I tend to try and share my thoughts and feelings based on what I experienced through my own eyes while others' may tend to be a more clinical description of where they went, what they saw and what they ate. No style is wrong, but I am curious about what people coming to this page like to read.
Allan - I really enjoyed your trip report about the Loire Valley/South of France. It helped me decide to spend more than a couple of nights in the Loire Valley.
Personally, I have no interest in reading a "packing report" - just my preference. Generally, I look for reports where the reporter traveled independently by train, and stayed in hotels within my budget, in destinations that I'm considering.
I prefer thoughts and feelings or impressions, helpful hints, always anecdotes, (example: going to a German spa and not realizing that the saunas upstairs were nude only.) or memorable moments regarding what you or your children saw ( my children remember a cat on a Paris bus but can't remember seeing the Mona Lisa) , stories about stuff you shouldn't have done or did. Helpful tips that aren't well known in the area you're in. For me, clinical or minute by minute descriptions without emotion or character are boring. I don't like reading a straight chronological account (if it's Tuesday, it must be Belgium) but where you went and what you did and what you want the reader to get out of the place you visited. Also write in 1st person, NOT third person. The best travel articles are written in 1st person. And 1st person gives the reader a chance to relate to the narrator. If I like the narrator, I can sit and read most anything, boring or not Also for long pieces, use bold headings if the following paragraph is about a specific topic.
But caveat, writing about your thoughts and feelings will leave you open to having other people write about their impressions of your feelings, and sometimes that comes off as criticism, so be prepared and have a thick skin.
I look forward to reading your trip report.
Again, my common rant -- personal preferences. I read trips reports for what worked and want didn't. And also for food and lodging recommendations. Indirectly I am lodging the comments in the back of my mind for future trips.
I also like the first persona narrative type. I tend to use 3rd person when I am trying to depersonalize something, like a criticism. 'one' is a favourite name in those circumstances
I am not personally interesting in a lot of food and wine talk. A list of restaurants visited or wines with brands drunk are not as interesting to me as the out of the ordinary or surprise piece of art or garden you came across. Or some example of serendipty, wonder or awe. I look for reports more off the beaten track or at least independent travel inclusions.
As a solo woman traveler, I am interested in how others like me travel and experience that travel.
I envy those who can add humour or are vibrant describers in their reports. I gave up on journals some time ago, because it was more like a tour itinerary than my impressions or anything of interest. I may be a little better on a report, but as I am my own logistical coach, navigator and tour guide, it can sometimes become more by rote than by emotion. I need to stop and sit and smell the roses more often to allow things to come to me for a change.
Just about any content is potentially useful. I enjoy reading about people's impressions of what they saw as well as their struggles to get to obscure places via public transportation. The more obscure the sight, the more likely that the information will be new to me, so I especially appreciate reports of visits to small towns, unusual museums and the like. I have no interest in wine or technology (how things work), but I would certainly not suggest that information about visiting wineries be omitted!
I do wish, though--and this applies to all posts on the forum, not just trip reports--that people would include the cost of experiences that cannot easily be Googled. That includes private transfers, specialized tours, etc. If something sounds really interesting to me, it would be very helpful to know whether it cost 20 euros, 75 euros, 200 euros or 650 euros. I tend to assume things like specialized tours will cost more than I'm willing to pay, but that can be an incorrect assumption; the 4-hour Civil War tour I took in Barcelona in 2016 cost only 25 euros.
Even when the information is readily available online, it would potentially save time for a lot of readers if the cost were included in the report. I suspect I may be in the minority here, but I just don't understand the reluctance to write something like "Afternoon tea at XXXXX was a truly wonderful experience; the atmosphere was elegant, and we left totally stuffed. It was absolutely worth the 60-pound cost per person." (I'd smile, think how pleasant that would be, then I'd move on.)
This is interesting to think about!
I think I read trip reports for pleasure as opposed to information. I read almost exclusively reports about places I have also been, maybe because I like to hear other people's impressions of things I have also seen. I can think of two categories I especially like:
- Reports from people who travel enough that they are going to much more off-the-beaten-path destinations: I love the attention to detail and knowledgeability of these posts.
- Reports from first-time or newer international travelers: You can't beat something that reminds you of those first big "wows." Even though I had nothing to do with it, it feels like I get a chance to share in someone's experience.
For some reason, when I'm researching a new destination, I'd almost rather not read about other people's experiences beyond logistical information. I'm not sure why!
Lots of good comments here. I too like to read reports that have information I can use, rather than a list of "saw that, ate there, it was great/terrible". A thoughtful analysis of planning, logistics and choices you needed to make is interesting, even if I never plan to go there.
Hi Allen, I have appreciated your trip reports, which border on "blogs" because you write your impressions of places, restaurant, as well as ease of traveling from one area to another. Yes, I have read all your "travel reports," and find them very valuable. There are printed books which give us the “facts” about lodgings and restaurants. I appreciate the first hand account as well as your opinion.
of choices you made.
Example: One of the sights on the RS Loire Valley tour of high interest to me is the Pont Du Gard bridge. After reading your Trip Report, I too would be very disappointed at the limited time allowed there; to have to choose between time spent at the bridge and time in the museum.
Your best way to travel post: I found myself nodding as I read your reflections. Our first "organized" tour was a Viking River Cruise. We thought it was wonderful, but when we later did some independent travel as well as RS Tours, I realize that I really enjoy interacting with the local people and the ability to wander about a city or town early in the morning, and that is usually not possible on a cruise because you return to the ship for all meals and usually spend the evening onboard. Yes, i’d Live to go on another cruise but for now, i want a little more freedom of choice when I travel in Europe.
So...keep on with your writing style. As Mr. Rogers would say, "There's no one like you, and "you do you very well," so continue :). You obviously like to write and have a great writing style.
In general, I'm in the practical information and tips club. I can buy a tour guide or google the basics of what to see where. From ordinary travelers i like the helpful tips you don't find in the standard blurbs. And always enjoy some wry humor about experiences - good and bad.
If it's a trip report on a specific tour itinerary, then things like hotel details, nearby restaurant options, additional sights to be seen, etc are also important.
I'm looking for humor, a frank assessment of things that didn't work out that well and good referral names for private guides. I learn a lot from other people's mistakes and I certainly focus on my mistakes on my own blog, assuming that others will benefit.
I don't follow restaurant, packing or hotel choices, generally, so reports about those get just a cursory look. Details are important - and, in reading, I'm looking for a sense that the writer travels in a way that's similar to my travel style. Some of the posters here take on complicated travel itineraries to less-traveled places, and those always catch my eye.
I like to read everyone's reports! I love to read a report where someone's excitement over travel is clearly evident.
I am one that likes packing details - suitcase size, purse, carry-on bag plus wardrobe, packing cubes (or not) and more importantly what worked and what didn't. I also admit to being a "recreational packer", lol! I love to see how things fit. I've gotten some really good ideas about capsule wardrobe colors from various trip reports.
I also like to know in general if things worked or didn't as far as lodging or transportation. I'm not big on reading a lot about food and wine. I'm vegan so what people are writing about would probably not work for me.
I love details about RS tours. I read them whether I've been on the tour or have never considered it. It's interesting to me to see how people view their itinerary, their guide and their group. I want to know if they have fun or if there were issues with the tour.
I DO like for all parts of a Trip Report to be in the same thread. I don't like to jump around reading Part 1, Part 2 etc.
I try to read most of the trip reports, mainly because I find travel itself so engaging, I really want to know what other people liked. I'm most curious about what independent travelers found in places I want to visit. Not so interested in blow-by-blow accounts or packing lists, but maybe that's very helpful for somebody else. The reports I tend not to finish are the one-long-paragraph formats where I don't know where we're going. I need some organization and topic headlines to keep me engaged. And I've never decided not to read one because it was too short!
Humor is always good. Specific repeat writers often catch my attention. Always read Sarah from Stuttgart because she includes her misadventures.
What I'm always waiting for, and have never seen, is a trip report of how one of those death march itineraries actually playedout. You know the ones: nine cities in eleven days...with two museums on arrival day...with kids...in August. If somebody would truthfully write out that story, I think we all would read it!
I have appreciated your trip reports, which border on "blogs"
This is precisely why I asked this question. Except for Facebook I'm a newbie to social media. This is the only Forum of any kind that I read or take part in and while I'm having fun, I started to wonder today if I was abusing the parameters of the site. I haven't been meaning to blog but I realized today that maybe I was after I had an idea for a post, but 150 words in, I realized that maybe I'm writing essays instead of thoughtful comments or questions. Thought I'd better ask the question in order to keep myself on track.
For content, I like...
- White Space
- Avoidance of multiple parts
- Germany. Lots of Germany.
Thanks for starting a great topic, Allan. I have enjoyed so many of the thoughtful responses, and would add a “ditto” to what acraven and Pam wrote.
I too find all sorts of trip reports interesting/useful. Sometimes because they are a pleasure to read for writing style/humor/insight; sometimes because there is practical information that is useful (especially in how to link things together).
And yes Allan I enjoy your posts, so I say keep on keeping on!!
My favorite trip reports to read share some of the person's personality, some humor and share some useful info, such as favorite cooking classes, activities or festivals to attend. If I were to mention a name, Priscilla's trip reports are always very interesting. I particularly enjoyed her trip report to Sicily that included a tribute to our late Forum member, Zoe.
Details about restaurants aren't important to me, but I do appreciate hearing about specific hotels or B&B's. Anyone's itinerary traveling by train is especially appealing since that's our preferred method of travel in Europe.
I hope my trip reports have been helpful to others; they seem to get a bit longer each trip! I print a copy of it and keep it in my itinerary packet for that trip as a nice way to remember the highlights.
I love your trip reports Alan, along with Sarah’s, Pam’s, Ruth from Atlanta’s, acraven’s and most anyone else’s. Please keep posting, travelers. All your efforts are appreciated.
To be contrarian, I want to speak up for hearing about dining and transport details -- I want to know what kind of cheese was on the cheese plate and what particular aperitifs stood out, etc. I want to know if the time between metros was 4 minutes or 20 minutes.
What I don't want to read are vague reflections like 'this was our best dinner that week' or 'that spot was boring' and leaving it at that.
What dish was tasty? Why was it better than the previous night's? What kind of dessert do you like and why was that one one of them? How often do trip reports say we liked town X more than town Y and wish we'd had more time there and less time here, and then don't explain why or what? Do you want to share your hard-won wisdom or do you just want to vent?
Enough venting ...
I like reading it all. I must not be that picky.
I agree with avirosemail. I like information on restaurants and meals ordered. Was the meal outstanding, mediocre or awful. I want specifics.
If I went to the same city you reviewed,, I can use that info to decide where to eat. Restaurants and what to order are an important part of my travels.
And it's always stressful when we travel by train and signage is not in English, so I also like to know minute travel details.
So, I guess Allen, in order to please everyone, you have to include all that info, and we the reader can decide what is important in your writings.
I appreciate your sense of humor and honesty in your writings.
I do not want to read details about your trip to the airport and your flights.
I like to read about the restaurants and what you ate. Your hotels are important and please include details.
I like them to be concise not rambling on and on.
I think the best reports are where people just share what was important to them...so I like to read them all!
And it is really fun when OPs we have responded to report on their trips and we find out what they actually thought and experienced.
Concise commentary is appreciated, along with use of paragraphs, capitalization, and other appropriate formatting. Also good grammar. I do not like to read endless day by day details: “On Day 1 we did x, y, z and got sooo tired then on Day 2 we....”
Like others, what worked and did not work is useful. Did you rent a car and regret it? First time train rider and were converted? Took the huge suitcase and hit the stairs in the Paris Metro? Stayed in an agriturismo and found a gem?
If a trip report goes to multiple parts, I am less likely to read it.
I love trip reports, but I admit I prefer shorter sentences, bullet points rather than long paragraphs
Highlights, most memorable moments, what you learned. I wish I had time to read more of them
"What went wrong and how I managed it and had a great trip anyway"
"What I would do differently if/when I go back"
Ditto Laurel and Laura B. And leave out the word "amazing".
I understand people want to protect their privacy online but I think it’s always helpful to give some very basic background information. A 25 year old single male from NYC that’s used to cities and urban life is going to have a different perspective than a retired couple from rural Iowa that has never been on public transit and isn’t used to large cities. Obviously a family travelling with small children is going to have a different experience than a single person interested in nightlife and meeting members of their preferred gender. If you’re a foodie, it’s helpful to disclose that up front. If I ever write a report, I’ll always point out that I’m definitely not looking for cute and quaint or local charm in accommodations. And, unless it’s a weekend jaunt to San Diego, I never travel carry on only.
I do find it helpful to give details about neighborhoods in general rather than just details about a particular restaurant or café. I love knowing that a neighborhood is near a university and is full of funky coffee shops or a particular neighborhood has tons of cafes and is ideal for people watching. Equally as interesting to me is that if you booked a hotel in the central business district, does it empty out by 6 pm? To be honest. I don’t really want to read about all the minutiae of problems with the hotel or Air BNB unless it’s truly useful for future travels. I think those experiences are probably better for the hotel vs air BNB threads which will always be popular.
Oh, Dale...good point about some demographics on the poster, especially someone who is fairly new to the forum.
And I'll agree I love to read TRs from people who have asked lots of questions and had forum member help them shape their trips.
Yes, demographics need to be included too. Good point.
Specifically for RS Tour trip reports I like it when impressions of the hotels are given and what you liked/didn't like about the various places visited as a group and especially things you liked/didn't like that you did on your own. Since tour review feedback is no longer as extensive as it used to be this really gives me an idea whether the tour is right for me. For other trip reports I like to know what you saw, whether you would return, what you wish you had done, how you got around. I am not much interested in where people ate, but that is just me. I am so thrilled to be traveling, where I eat is way down on my list. But, that is just me and I do pay attention if someone comments on an especially interesting menu or waiter or location of a restaurant.
Clearly, different aspects of travel appeal to different folks largely based on what they are used to-independent travel versus group, extensive use of public transportation versus driving, loves food and wine versus could care less. I agree with starting with demographics as it really helps. Also, knowing if you are a budget traveler, a non-drinker, feel food is just fuel and will eat anything, helps the reader screen which reports they can relate to without getting several paragraphs in.
I always like details - and I always want to hear about the hotels ( I’ve found several good ones that way ) - and fun things to do . I like personal information about narrator ( ie rough age and reason for travel and interests )
Not so fussed about restaurants or wine details although sometimes they are helpful.
I love the trip reports that paint a picture of the experience. Allan, yours are good at that. There was a trip report a year or so ago from someone on the Sicily tour and I could not only picture every scence, I could feel it. It captured the feeling of travel that has captivated so many of us. I guess its the emotion more than the details that keep me reading.
I'm not fussed about tiny details about meals or accomodation, especially if its included for every stop. Highlighting the most memorable meals or accomodation is helpful. And pointing out one or two that were not great is ok.
Unusual locations or experiences are intriguing to me, unless the writer comes across as boastful or arrogant for going places "the masses" don't generally hit.
And like a few previous posters, if its not formatted well I give up very quickly. Should have paragraph breaks, no (or few) spelling errors, and full words. If I have to struggle to read it, I give up.
Whoa, Dale. You totally nailed it here:
A 25 year old single male from NYC that’s used to cities and urban
life is going to have a different perspective than a retired couple
from rural Iowa that has never been on public transit and isn’t used
to large cities. Obviously a family travelling with small children is
going to have a different experience than a single person interested
in nightlife and meeting members of their preferred gender. If you’re
a foodie, it’s helpful to disclose that up front. If I ever write a
report, I’ll always point out that I’m definitely not looking for cute
and quaint or local charm in accommodations. And, unless it’s a
weekend jaunt to San Diego, I never travel carry on only.
Where we're coming from in our life stages, interests and travel experience can make a HUGE difference in how we might review a trip. You've almost convinced me to flesh out a profile I've been digging heels about adding to for years now, you've made so much sense. Well played!
LOL, we travel with check-in bags too, and not the least lil' bit ashamed to admit it. So there. Kateja wanted to ban the word 'amazing"? Yep, and I'll add "quaint" to that list. That one gives me gas. Bleh.
I like just about everything.
I don't mind a list of sites visited as I will research any I come across that I haven't heard of that sound interesting.
As for packing lists, I always read those and found the first ones I read here invaluable along with advice for paring down our packs as we wanted to just do carry on.
Restaurants where good affordable meals are served are important to me and I love to read hotel and apt. reviews to get ideas of where I might stay in the near future.
Of course funny anecdotes always make the post more enjoyable. I don't mind some fussing about odd occurrences but don't want to read a report where the whole thing is filled with negative experiences.
And yeah, it would be interesting to read a report of one of those whirlwind trips. I can't imagine it would be very positive but I could be wrong. Some people just travel differently.
Once I get interested in a particular trip or destination- I'm a super researcher! You can write anything you want, it all adds to my overall picture. I just ask that you try to be honest. If you are a great descriptive writer, or super funny, that's a giant plus. But in my mind- just truthful facts and honest impressions are so helpful. Names of special restaurants or tour companies. Photos too. I realize they might be seasoned with a bit of personal preference- but it helps to create an overall picture. I DO appreciate so much these trip reports! Good question! thanks!
I like reports that have a bit of everything, but if they add in some humor that makes it more fun. A little packing info goes a long way.
What I don't like is when people post a new thread for every day of their trip. There is one right now about Italy. Put all those posts together! Please?
But in my mind- just truthful facts and honest impressions are so
Maybe I should turn this into a new post, but I'll comment here first. There was a question a few months ago that surprised me with some of the answers. I can't recall the precise question but it was if we had the right to post negative reviews on sites such as Expedia and Trip Advisor. The OP's argument was that we could be damaging a small business owner's reputation and business. I was surprised how many people did say that they'd still give 3-5 stars even if they weren't deserved. I was of the opinion that an honest, clinical review; even if negative is fair.
How about on Trip Reports? How much negativity are you willing to put up with when reading the Report? Are rants acceptable in some cases or should we remain honest and clinical on both the negatives and positives?
My personal opinion on bad reviews on sites like Trip Advisor or Google is that the person should really contact the business first to see if they can get some sort of satisfaction. Not because they are threatening to write a bad review, but some places like hotels, restaurants, tours, etc. may not know that there are problems with staff, rooms, meals and really do appreciate knowing that there is a problem. Let them try and make it right for you before you damn them to eternity with your 1-star review.
"Are rants acceptable in some cases or should we remain honest and clinical on both the negatives and positives?"
Rants never impress me. I lose interest pretty quickly. I'm much more apt to be open to an honest recitation of negatives and positives (if there are any) and let me make up my own mind. Put things in context for me.
For instance, I post a lot on Trip Advisor forums. People often rant about the low quality of National Park lodging. OK but what are they really ticked off about? That they didn't do enough research to find out that there are often no amenities including wifi and cell service? P*ssed because the wifi that is available wasn't powerful enough to stream whatever they are currently binge-watching? OR was the room not well-cleaned even taking into account that it might be an 80 year old cabin? I read a comment one time on a concessioner's blog where a complaint had come in from a guest that she was angry that the Rangers didn't put out the animals early enough. Um, lady, they're wild? (Animals not Rangers, lol)
I agree with Pam, “rants never impress me.” I admit I am selective about what I read. If I’m not interested I just move on. The Forum is just one of my tools when doing my research. I am obsessed with research and planning. I am not a fan of Trip Advisor. If I’m researching accommodations I prefer Booking.com.
Over the years I have had my “go to contributors” on the Forum. I also use guidebooks, former tour mates advice, family & friends to scope out my next destination. Overall I think trip reports can be more subjective vs objective, but that’s just me.