Recently I played Local Tourist in San Diego. You might think, doing what I do, that would be an easy task. It is my job, after all. But even I sometimes struggle with choosing things to do. My issue is usually that I want to do everything. My husband likes to say my travel eyes are bigger than my travel stomach, but that doesn't stop me from gorging.
Then I discovered the convenience of TripAdvisor Attractions. If you travel (or even if you don't), you've most likely heard of TripAdvisor. You've probably pored over the thousands of reviews, using others' experiences to figure out where to go, whether you're in your own hometown or someplace new. But did you know you can actually book those tours and attractions without ever leaving the site?
How to be a Local Tourist with TripAdvisor Attractions
We had one day to explore Paradise before heading back to chilly Chicago, so I logged on to TripAdvisor and headed straight for the Things To Do tab.
That took me to a page dedicated to San Diego attractions, tours, and experiences. I could narrow down the types of activities, but I headed straight to the booking engine. I was on a mission.
There were a lot of options. TripAdvisor is the world’s largest provider of tours, activities and attractions, with more than 56,000 bookable experiences in 2,500 destinations worldwide, and since San Diego is one of the most popular destinations in the world, there's plenty to do. We narrowed it down based on timing, budget, and interests.
TripAdvisor had given me a credit of $200 so I could experience this service firsthand and share it with you. There were four of us, and I really, really wanted to go on a whale watching cruise, which was only $42 per person, but we had one day and I wanted to see as much as possible (of course). That cruise is 3 1/2 hours long, and when we factored in the drive time to and from Oceanside, it just wasn't going to work.
This is where TripAdvisor's reviews come in handy. The tours and tickets were sorted by the most popular and best rated. At the top was the USS Midway Museum. We'd done that on a previous trip, and while it's definitely worth a return visit, we opted for something else.
Next up on the list: the Hop-on Hop-off Trolley from Historic Tours of America. Ding ding ding! We have a winner! That was perfect. We could park at Balboa Park, pick up the trolley, and hop-on and hop-off as many times as we wanted to. I booked the tickets and a receipt was emailed to me. It was also in my account, so instead of printing it out, I just showed the receipt in the app to the agent when the trolley got to Old Town.
We had some money left over in our budget, so I changed the search to Oceanside to see if there was anything closer to home. One of the top things to do was Mission San Luis Rey, and admission was only $7. Just like the trolley tour, I simply showed the ticket from the app on my phone when we arrived and we were set.
Another aspect of TripAdvisor Attractions is their price guarantee. If I had found the tour and tickets cheaper within 72 hours of booking, or if I got to the destination and found out the price offered by the operator was lower, they'd refund the price difference. (Granted - it would have been a credit of my credit, but still, it's pretty cool and means you don't have to hold out in case you might find a better deal somewhere else.)
Combine this booking tool with their hotel search engine, and you've got a full-service travel-planning site at your fingertips. They glean the best prices, in real time, from more than 200 hotel booking sites. Then you decide with help from their "Best Value" index, a combination of traveler ratings, best prices, location and more.
TripAdvisor gave me a credit so I could try this service and share my experience. Would I use it with my own money? You better believe it. In fact, this is one of the tools in my epic cross-country road trip planning arsenal.
Want to see how easy it is to be a Local Tourist with TripAdvisor Attractions? Check it out for yourself and let me know how it goes in the comments!
Pin this to save it for your next trip: