Photo used under Creative Commons from CasaDeQueso.
Over the last month, I’ve done a lot of research for an upcoming vacation to Tulum, Mexico. It will be my partner and I’s first “real” trip together. There are so many things to consider! We had to decide where to go, when to go, and most importantly HOW would we like to travel. I have some friends that enjoy all-inclusive resorts. I’ve never been on an all-inclusive trip myself, but the idea of “choose your own adventure” appeals to me more than having a gated community vacation approach.
Despite having an adventurous spirit, I rely fairly heavily on reviews, using sources such as TripAdvisor, online photos, trusted endorsements by family and friends, and hotel websites (minimally, since photos can be edited to make nearly anything look SO PRETTY). I usually try to gather information on top-rated (yet affordable) lodging that also has a good dose of character. For my upcoming vacation, I sought out a cabaña or hotel room right on the Tulum beach that had: an on-site restaurant, great reviews, a location convenient to the ruins and the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a nice long stretch of beach (not too rocky), and that was couple-friendly.
I’m sure most people have been on a vacation where they arrived to find their accommodations much different from how they were advertised! My partner and I had this type of experience once when we spent an uncomfortable night at a very odd bed and breakfast. Upon reading reviews of different places to stay in Tulum, it seemed like several reviewers said that where they stayed was not at all like it looked on the hotel websites.
Sometimes it’s easy to tease out the “crazy” or overly picky reviewers (or the one-time rant reviewer). I disregarded negative remarks from travelers who were upset about needing to sleep under mosquito netting or people who were angered and offended that they didn’t have electricity for their curling irons, laptops, Blackberry’s, panini presses and the like while on vacation.
One of the more valuable resources that I came across in my research were travel blogs. One of blogs I found belonged to Kate Thomas (a travel expert and journalist), who has some beautiful videos on the Yucatan Penninsula’s cenotes, which I’m very excited to visit. Video is a useful way for travel bloggers to share information about vacation spots with their viewers, because it can give a more authentic perspective than a two-dimensional photo. Check out Kate’s video about them here:
Aside from online information, it seems like anytime I tell someone that I’ll be vacationing in Tulum, the person shares that they’ve been there! This has helped me acquire a lot of recommendations about things to do, the all-important where to eat, and logistical matters like transportation and what ATM’s to use.
Have you ever been on a vacation where you got something different from what you signed up for? What are your most reliable sources when booking a vacation? Have YOU been to Tulum? If so, what was the best part of your trip?