This might seem like a strange thing to read on a travel blog, but you shouldn’t believe everything you read, or hear, about travel.
It’s a big, bad world out there, and not everybody is being entirely honest in their posts, newspaper and magazine articles, podcasts, vodcasts, tweets, instas, Facebook Live broadcasts and so on.
Here are some things to consider:
Has the writer* really been there? Surprisingly, a lot of travel news and even in-depth feature articles about destinations is written by people who don’t travel, or have not been to the specific place they are writing about. I once knew a bloke who had a business selling travel information to the trade, and feature articles to newspapers, who said he was too busy to go anywhere. The growth of the internet has made it even easier to fake it.
How experienced is the writer? Has he or she travelled enough to be past the “gee-whiz” stage where everything is wonderful? Have they done their research and checked their facts? Are they prepared to correct errors or entertain opposing views?
Is the writer like you? I try to be objective and honest in what I write, but I make no bones about the fact that I am a mature-aged, but still active, male who generally travels solo and has a soft spot for cruises and certain cultural experiences (usually focusing on my interests in history and theatre). While I try to give advice that’s useful to everyone, I realise that there are people better placed to help a party of twentysomethings seeking thrills in Ibiza or a family planning the best way to negotiate Disneyworld.
Does the writer have an agenda? This is a more sinister version of the above — some people, especially online, get a kick (or a kickback) out of misleading others. Ask: Is the article sponsored, or was the travel paid for, in part of full, but the airline, hotel or other travel provider. Ethical writers — including me — will declare this information at the end of their post or show. Be especially wary when, for example, only one hotel is recommended at a destination that has hundreds of them; or only one airline is mentioned when many others fly to that destination. For the record: every review I have written on this blog to date has been for products or services I have paid for out of my own pocket. I am open to sponsorship, but if it is offered and accepted, it will be declared.
How new is the advice? Destinations and facts on the ground change all the time. Last year’s tropical paradise is now an overcrowded tourist trap where the facilities are struggling to cope and the locals are getting a bit tired of the intrusion into their lives. Check the date on blog posts, or at the end of audio and video programs, and if it’s old, seek out the freshest information you can get before you commit.
*The word writer here used to also mean bloggers, podcasters, TV hosts and anybody else proferring advice through traditonal and social-media channels.