(It's especially helpful when you're a travel guide writer and you can only choose 2-3 hotels to include, out of several hundred in any given city.)
Anyway, I am a registered user of Trip Advisor. And I guess it has its perks, because in the past few months, I have received a backpack (with their logo on it, so I would never actually travel with it, but it's good for library trips, for example) and yesterday, a luggage tag. The luggage tag is especially nice, because I have a nondescript red suitcase with a black leather luggage tag, and people are always trying to abscond with it (the suitcase, that is, not the luggage tag). This bright green luggage tag with the tripadvisor.com logo will make it stand out more. (Aside: I have always wanted to get one of those luggage tags that say "THIS IS NOT YOUR BAG!" to put on my suitcase.)
So anyway...YAY! Free stuff! And it's just a darn good website. So go and check it out already.
I know it's already included in my list of Useful Travel Websites on the right hand side of this blog, but people usually ignore those lists.
Also, a shout out for sidestep.com. Now, admittedly, I am a little biased, as I am currently working for this website as an independent contractor (in layman's terms, I am one member of their writing staff who is writing travel guides for use on the website). But my husband finds this website extremely useful. He can search airfares with it, and it will give him the lowest prices quoted by almost every travel booking site (expedia, travelocity, orbitz, etc.) as well as the prices quoted directly from the airlines. This saves you from having to do a price comparison on each site individually. He is now a fan of sidestep.com.
In other news, we are leaving for our Baltic cruise ONE WEEK FROM TODAY!! And because I evidently don't have enough to do already, I've been obsessed with checking out the webcam from our ship, the Star Princess. It's currently doing a Baltic tour, but with a slightly different itinerary than the one we're doing (and it seems to be doing it in reverse). I first checked out the webcam a little over a week ago, and saw that the ship was in Italy. Then I watched its voyage from Italy to Copenhagen, from whence it departed on Tuesday. Most of the images were of the sea only...no land (and occasionally, you can see one of the ship's decks). But yesterday, I looked on the webcam to find a beautiful image of Stockholm, Sweden! Today, it is in Helsinki, but you can't see much. I'm following it all the way through this cruise, and it will be returning into the port in Copenhagen the morning that we arrive there (we don't depart until evening). Anyway, it's making me really excited about the trip. I'm getting a little preview of what we're going to see.