With myriad travel review sites and apps in existence today the sheer volume of information can be overwhelming — even for the most seasoned travelers. Extract more value, comfort and meaning by seeking out and chatting with locals and those who have been there instead of chiefly relying on technology and online reviews. 

Here are just six reasons why.

Inspiration. My most memorable travel experiences were conceived out of the recommendations of folks, from backpackers to White House workers, who traveled far and wide and often. Such inspiration guided me to destinations like South Africa shortly after the fall of Apartheid and the Czech Republic shortly after the fall of Communism. None of these places would have ever appeared previously on my bucket list (if I even knew what a bucket list was at the time). Not just visiting, but living in these places, has changed my life for ever. 

Overwhelming options. Granted a few travel-related search engines, websites and apps do a better job than others. In fact, there are some excellent ones like my current faves Google Flights, Hotel Tonight and Airbnb. Aside from the likes of these, I see very little differentiation in travel booking websites, apps and those thousands of deceivingly “localized” booking sites. Most searches return an overwhelming number of options with little room for personalization. For instance a recent search of flights from Prague to Atlanta yielded over 1050 flight options on one website alone. Sorting through that number of flights is a daunting task and is time that could be better spent watching the latest installment of House of Cards.

Unique to you. I’ve been on two package tours in my entire life, both of which were equally unsatisfying. Perhaps it’s just my aversion to being herded from one generic venue to the next, but a  hard-earned travel experience should be unique to you and your individual preferences and not just the same boilerplate itinerary from the pages of a catalog or generic search results. 

Getting there, around and back. There are plenty of sites that will show you every single option for transportation and some will even make minor recommendations, such as with regard to flight connection times. And despite the utility of a site like Google Flights, it’s still not going to tell you if you’re likely to have a more pleasant travel experience connecting via Paris Charles de Gaulle or London’s Heathrow, or whether these airports should be avoided altogether. Nor will it display which airlines operate the newest, most comfortable planes and routes.

Sleeping, eating and shopping. Oops, booked yourself into a room that’s twice as small as what you saw in the photo advertisements and is in a crummy neighborhood? Didn’t realize your vegan diet might be difficult to accommodate because you are traveling to a region where meat appears in almost every dish? Planning to do some shopping on a Saturday in Germany only to discover that many smaller stores are closed?

Local nuances, contingencies and emergencies. What’s the best way to deal with taxi drivers? Should you use the currency exchange window at the airport, or are you better off using an ATM? What would happen if tragedy struck and you needed to return home immediately? It’s already happened to me. Twice in fact.

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Link to this story: http://www.wessence.com/news/2015/3/26/6-reasons-why-not-to-rely-solely-on-technology-to-plan-your-next-trip

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