Recommendations: Who do you trust?

I’ll be the first to admit that I hate review sites. Probably because I hate being measured myself (read: Klout). But I have to say on our last coast-to-coast adventure with the kids one review site saved the day, over and over again.

Imagine you’ve been driving cross-country 10-12 hours, your overnight accommodation have flaked out on you just hours before your check-in and it is getting close to dinnertime. The kids are hungry and need a bathroom.

BTW you’re in Oklahoma.

Where will you find decent food, a gas station and reasonable hotel?

Well of course we first threw it out to twitter.

But accommodations were easier to come by than food. Thank you Brian for recommending we try the Priceline app! We ended up in a great, well rated, Hampton Inn in Van Buren, Arkansas that was perfect. A little further down I-40, but closer to our destination, Atlanta, Georgia.

Our first stop for gas, was no longer in operations and when the kids’ gotta go, they’ve gotta go. Still I resisted the XXX Adult Store that was in operation for the Shell two more exits down, thanks to Yelp.

And Yelp also encouraged us to stop in El Reno, Oklahoma where we had both a picture safari and the best burgers at Sid’s Diner. They really are the friendliest, most welcoming and best tasting diner. Lots of reviews, too.

Google had let us down in Santa Fe as far as food and driving directions go, but our friends on twitter picked up the slack, ensuring we had some excellent meals from El Paso to Monterey and Cayucos to Kingman. Battle of the southern BBQ continues.

So, here’s what we learned:

It doesn’t hurt to cross reference, use Yelp or Google for ratings then shout out to your friends on Twitter or Facebook.

No matter how well you plan, have a backup or two and stay flexible. It’s the places you didn’t expect to see that are often the most memorable.

If you are using reviews remember if there are more than 100 reviews, a 3½ star review is actually quite good. Make sure the recent reviews are high and read through to be sure you are not hitting the restaurant or hotel at a peak time.