How using Viator helped me improve my trips

You’d think that as a travel professional with a lot of personal experience, I would be fully self-sufficient in finding local transportation, guides, cool experiences, and other travel necessities to make my trips great.


You’d be wrong!  After years of spending untold hours looking for how to have the best time in the places I’d be visiting, I’d have a virtual Rolodex of resources to use myself and refer to my clients.  The internet is a wonderful thing and you can find just about anything you’re seeking. The challenge is that it’s not that simple.


Let’s say you’re going to Paris and you want to visit off-the-beaten-track museums after you’ve done the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay.  So first you search “Paris unusual museums,” and get pages of links.  Then you click on the top links because they were smart enough to use Search Engine Optimization and get to the top of the heap.  Then the links beget more links, which leads to still more and more links. Pretty soon your head is exploding and you give up for another time.

unusual museums in paris

I use Viator

Viator (which was acquired by TripAdvisor in 2014) is a great aggregator of all of these options, which have passed a legitimacy screening to be listed. That’s not saying there may be some lesser suppliers out there, but the risks are small and the ease of use is a winner.


My personal experience with Viator has been excellent.  On my recent Danube River Cruise, I planned to spend additional time in Budapest and Prague at the end of the cruise and wanted a local guide in each place to take me on a walking tour of their city.  I also needed transportation from Budapest to Prague, and after reviewing options like flying and train, I realized driving was the most efficient. I didn’t want to rent a car so that left bus or car service, and I didn’t have a specific resource to make a recommendation.


What’s excellent about Viator is that you can filter very specifically what you are looking for. In Budapest, for example, I searched for “Budapest Walking Tours.”  First, it asks for dates and has a slider bar for you to specify your budget.  Then you can filter by special requirements and how long of a tour you want.


Like its parent TripAdvisor, it provides lots of results, which you can then sort by traveler rating, price, duration and whether or not it’s new. Within a few minutes, you can narrow it down to your favorites, get specific pricing for your dates and book.  Most vendors provide the option to book now and pay later, usually right up until the date of your activity. That way, you don’t risk that your choice sells out and you don’t have to get charged until you’re ready to use the vendor.


My experience using Viator

This worked out perfectly for me. I found two really wonderful local guides for the two cities I was visiting. These were real people–not commercial guides with canned spiels and jokes.  I’m someone who likes to get to know others when I travel, so in addition to the guides sharing their knowledge and inside info about their cities, they were open to answering my questions about what daily life was like, and even more personal things like about their family. 


Getting to Prague also turned out to be simpler than I expected, and ended up costing less money than if I’d booked through my hotel.  The driver picked me up right at my hotel’s lobby in Budapest, helped with my bags and delivered me to my hotel in Prague. Since it was about a 5-hour drive (in winter, when there was snow and rain), I asked him to make a lunch stop. He found a very local restaurant in a town about midway between the two cities and waited patiently during the time it took to have a sit-down lunch.


Given my great experiences, I’ve recommended Viator to friends and clients, and everyone has come back with positive experiences.


Try Viator next time you travel

So, even though Wine Lovers Travel’s trips are all-inclusive of activities, many of our travelers do want to extend their trips. If they are looking to do this independently and not have us arrange a planned extension, I recommend they book whatever they like on Viator.  Wine Lovers Travel has made special arrangements to provide our travelers with a link to the site.


Use it with confidence that Viator will simplify your arrangements wherever you travel and give you back the time to do more important things before departure…like figuring out how to pack!