Hi, I am Modesta and I am Reviews Addict
Hi, I am Modesta and my issue is… I love travelling. This intense love has been continuing for around a year with some breaks. India, Nepal, Singapore, Colombia, etc. Colombia is my last love - full of colours, happy people, dancing. I am a social activist and corporate affairs professional. Travelling around the world was always my dream and felt like a necessity at the same time. You need to get a creative break in order to go forward. And believe me, travelling is good not only for your mental health, your creativity but also for your personal growth.
text and photos by MODESTA KAIRYTE / @entrance_ _ _
Reviews - why they matter
When you travel you have to get as much pleasure out of your travelling as possible. Nowadays there is way too much information about everything. And travelling is not an exception. Believe me, it is not such a pleasure of making a decision when you are overwhelmed by the overload of information. The thing is that you have to make the best decision fast, efficiently and with information that you have at that moment. Decisions about hostels, places to visit, restaurants, etc. So, do you get why I am reviews addict? My personal motivation is not to get tired of travelling and enjoy it.
There are several arguments about why reviews are so essential for travellers. First, as I have mentioned it previously – it saves your time. You have to make the best decision fast, as you do not want to waste your time on your phone just reading about all possible opportunities. Sometimes you change your location every day, even though I prefer to stay longer at each place. Secondly, you need the place you are staying or eating to be reliable and safe, so reviews of previous travellers help a lot. Thirdly, you have to select places according to your priorities and needs and reviews here are of great help to get answers to your questions. Do they have a hot shower? Is it a party or a tranquil hostel? Do they have vegetarian food? Usually, this information is not provided by the service provider. Last but not least, when you review places, you have a feeling of belonging to a community. It is an act of solidarity to leave truthful and helpful reviews.
I guess everyone has their own review matrix for hostels, restaurants, activities. How do I select places I want to visit? I trust “live” reviews from locals and fellow travellers. First, I ask what places they have visited and what did they like about them. This is the first step: the so-called screening. If the places which they have liked match with the ones I like, I trust their opinion and put the recommended locations in my notes. For example, now I am staying in the town, which was mentioned by the German girl I met in Peru.
However, with hostels, I usually trust Google and Booking.com reviews and rating. Not to brag or anything but I am a local guide on the Google Maps platform. It is such a smart gamification process – the more you review, put up new places or add some information, the more points you get. Actually, I still do not get what can I do with these points, but I feel rewarded when Google says I am doing a great job.
As I am travelling for a long time and a hostel is my only home, I want it to be clean, cosy, tranquil and well located. There are many small but very important things to think about: do they have a hot shower, how big is the room, does it have a window, do they have lockers for your stuff, how is breakfast, how are hosts. I usually screen for bad ratings to see if they mention my red flags. Secondly, it is important to pay attention to the rating score, even 0,1 point makes a difference.
Let me give you an example. Now I am in Colombia, near the Caribbean Sea in Minca. In three days, I have changed 3 hostels. It is kind of unusual for me as I am quite good at selecting hostels, but I made some compromises and they never work. I have decided to travel for a while with a Canadian girl I have met while travelling and she had to go to review one hostel in Minca. I noticed that the rating is high but it was lower than the highest-ranked hostels in the same price range. Nevertheless, I gave it a try. 9.2 should not be so bad. And it was not bad, but not worth staying as well. The host was rude, the place was not super clean, and the room was very small. So even though it had a beautiful view, I decided to stay only for two nights until my top hostel will have vacancies. The next morning I woke up – guess what, they do not have space, I had to switch beds and pay more. Fuck it, I am out, I chose a new hostel over my travel companion. There are these small things that matter: vibe, host, interior design, people who are staying there. There are different types of hostels and they attract different crowds: party, boutique, hippies, eco, community, expensive, cheap. I never regret switching hostels as they always tend to be better – same as with partners, you can never go worse if you are smart enough.
The second hostel was amazing, tranquil, on the shore of the river, new and close to the town centre – 9.6. And my third hostel was the best – now I am lying in a hammock somewhere in the middle of the jungle with an amazing view, good food, friendly staff and a good crowd. Last year it was ranked as the second-best hostel in Latin America!
Are ratings country-sensitive?
I have noticed that there are these small things that matter – it can make my day or ruin it. Therefore, I tend to pay one euro more for the place I will feel comfortable. One euro? Yes, it is a big deal. The usual price for a bed in a dorm ranges from 5 to 11 euros. It depends per country what is the price breaking point for a good hostel. In Vietnam it is 7 euros, in the Philippines, it is 10. Also, in countries which are more backpackers’ friendly, you will find many cheap and very good hostels and restaurants, but in some countries, the best-ranked hostel is 8.6 for 11 euros.
Usually, hosts are obsessed with ratings, you can even find posters in the toilets requesting to review their places. They send you an email, they remind you when you are departing. The trickiest thing is when the hosts are nice, but the hostel is not. Too often you can find the rating of the hostel super high even though the hostel itself is shitty. Now I tend to be careful when I see reviews only with praises for owners but not for the hostel itself. But as I said before, different people have different priorities and for some – human factor or host factor is on the top of their list. It is important to stay professional and objective while writing a review, mention things you liked and did not like that people would have the info to make the best decision.
Be review professional
There are plenty of reviewing platforms: Trip Advisor, Google, Yelp, booking.com, blogs, books (Lonely Planet, Rough Guides). Don’t go mad, you don’t need to check all of them, instead select the one, which is the most convenient for you. And do not be a passive traveller, review your experiences! I need your insights as well as other fellow travellers do.
Do you have any questions, ideas for articles or wanna join my review addict circle?
Contact me: @entrance_ _ _ _