Warning: journalistic blasting ahead…
Here’s an example of the internet’s power – for local use. Claire Walter’s Travel-Babel analyzes an article by Peter Greenberg titled “Winter Alternatives.” Greenberg’s article is filled with glaring errors which include describing Nordic Walking as a winter sport, to the more common misconception that Colorado Springs is just steps from the slopes. Other ski resorts are geographically misrepresented – doing a disservice to those heeding his advice about to click “book this trip.” At least he doesn’t describe Denver as “surrounded by mountains where locals catch a few runs before hopping in their snowcats to work.” Read the full article, and Claire’s wealth of insightful skiing articles too.
Claire’s points reinforce how useful the internet can be – if you drill it down LOCALLY. In addition to be paid shills, (another problem she addresses,) travel articles that pile up top 10 lists of beaches, ski resorts, or castles – have very little, (or worse inaccurate,) information about each individual one. MSNBC Travel with its flashy slideshows is constantly showcasing pithy summaries of the “World’s Best Airport Lounges” or “Iowa’s Best Dilapidated Barns.” But for the micro traveler I find it completely worthless. You usually travel ONLY to a specific place and region, often to engage in a specific interest of activity. Blanket generalities are worthless at best, and wrong at worst.
Unless you love top 10 lists (I admit they’re addicting,) time is better spent reading local newspapers, an alternative weekly, ex-pat sites, specific regional boards, or local blogs. Local research is the best resource even BEFORE you’ve decided on a region or location. For example Yucatan Living, a favorite site of mine, yields FAR more info about tourism and culture than you’d ever find from a mass distributed AP article about the region, or even a guide book of a few years old. When traveling the oft given advice is “Just ask the locals where they go.” Now that can be done from home. All of the small hotels and guest houses I’ve stayed at over the last few years have been found on the net, and been decided on by reading personal trip reports, blogs, and a few e-mail interactions with the staff. Same for many restaurants, clubs, and events.
Writers and bloggers that focus on their own corners of the world, and write from their own experiences are the “mom and pops” among the glossy magazines and ad filled guidebooks. Collectively they are far superior and more useful. Think globally. Google LOCALLY.
More Travel News of Interest…
Expect longer waits when entering the U.S. While I agree with the premise that U.S. citizens should already have passports – (we’ve been reminded for over a year now,) I can’t believe - ok I can believe, that Michael Chertoff, a high ranking government official, would actually use the phrase “It’s time to grow up” addressing those who disagree. Just because you dissent and carry a different opinion does not make you an idiot. Hey some of my best friends are Republicans! Denver Post article.
Samarpan Nepal is an organization in Kathmandu that provides volunteer opportunities, backpacking and photography expeditions, and cultural exchanges in the region. The funds go to help provide social wefare and education to impoverished children in the region. Check out their programs, or consider them in your next charitable donation.