As I geared up for my two latest jaunts to New York and Las Vegas, I made note of all of the “must sees” friends, acquaintance, and on-site reviewers shared. A major problem was deciding where to eat-so much food, so little time.
Therefore, I went online to tourist recommendations to check out menus and prices. Traveling with both a picky eater and one who says “Yuck” at meat and most vegetables, I need to know ahead of time what I’ll be facing. In Vegas, I ruled out eating at Guy Savoy’s establishment after I found out that dinner for 2 adults and one teenager would be around $570 before tax, tip and wine. His menu sounded intriguing, just like Emeril’s, but we weren’t looking for a romantic, unforgettable, culinary experience. Yet, I must mention that I owe thanks and respect to both chefs for allowing their prices to be printed online. They think enough of their diners to be upfront, with apparently no need to trick them in by hiding anything.
However, in the majority of the cases, fine-and not so fine-dining establishments do not post menus with prices online. They don’t share anything other than beautifully worded descriptions of their offerings. Why not? The answer is probably in line with the saying, “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” But isn’t that assumption, a bit well, presumptuous? It implies that the owners assume that if you want to eat there, you’ll pay anything, and if you want to know the price ahead of time, you aren’t welcome because you shouldn’t care about price in the first place. It used to be that women were handed menus without prices so that they would order what they really wanted instead of what was either inexpensive or indulgent. That’s not as insulting as on-line menus with no prices. (I have to laugh at places like the Carnegie Deli in Manhattan, whose menus don’t even try to hide the big white-out marks over the costs.) To me, that’s announcing that they want tourists to plan a visit, make reservations, and travel there, after which they’ll be less likely to go elsewhere.
Sometime, as travelers, we want to splurge, but other times, we wish to be prudent. We’re lucky in this day and age to have so much information, regarding reservations, maps, directions, and reviews, all a click away. It can’t be emphasized enough to use these resources while planning your trip. You will not only discover restaurant selections and pricing, you will also find out hours of operation (some closures days may surprise you) and payment policies. (I was glad to have found out ahead of time that New York’s famed Jekyll and Hyde did not take Visa, and how much cash to carry for our meal.)
In New York, almost every restaurant (as well as theatres, museums and business establishments) also includes subway directions on their sites. But, no matter where you’re going, it’s an excellent idea to take things into your own hands when planning your itinerary. Don’t wait until you get to a strange place to pick up a map or get information from the hotel concierge. Online subway and bus maps can be found within seconds, and your investigation may very well change the course of your trip. This is because, often, visitors have no clue just how far apart places are or what it takes to get from point A to point B. Several times, I found out that my plans wouldn’t be feasible ahead of time, which forced me to re-think my agenda. It was disappointing, but much better than the hassle and stress of dealing with it once I had arrived at my destination.
Such research has always served me well. My family has usually found good meals and entertainment at fair prices, and gotten the most out of our vacations by saving time and energy. There will always be a few glitches in even the best plans, but a few hours on the computer can increase your travel pleasure significantly.
Here’s wishing you success in your online travel research, and to no more unhappy surprises.