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Preview destinations on video-sharing websites

SmarterTravel

With the growing popularity of online video-sharing websites like YouTube, thousands of travelers are making their vacation videos available to anyone with Internet access. A recent search on YouTube turned up more than 160,000 videos tagged as travel-related, while newer travel-only video sharing sites, Travelistic and TravelerVideos.com, have nearly 6,000 each. <a href=”http://video.google.com/?ie=U-8&hl=en&tab=wv” target=”_blank”>Google’s video search functionality (in Beta) enables visitors to search multiple video-sharing sites at once.

The quality of these amateur videos can be hit or miss, but many are good enough to provide useful previews of attractions, tours, hotels, and more. For example, a quick search on YouTube showed 860 videos of amusement rides in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, 112 videos of spas in Scottsdale, and 1,370 videos of Parisian cafes.

Of course, not all the destinations and sites you’ll research have videos, but the breadth of videos on the Web is surprisingly large and growing. For instance, while researching a hike I wanted to do across the Brazilian island of Ilhabela (a place most Americans have never heard of), I came across a video taken a by a Brazilian traveler who recorded the trek’s highlights. It wasn’t National Geographic film-making, but it gave me a good idea of the hike’s challenges and highlights, sealing my decision to add it to my itinerary.

So, next time you’re planning a trip and need help making a decision, do a quick video search online to see if you can get some visual insights.

Have a great travel tip you’d like to share? Send your insider travel strategies to editor@smartertravel.com.

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