My favorite travel site doesn’t have a database filled with thousands of hotels or cruises, or flights. My favorite travel site doesn’t use words like “amenities,” and it doesn’t change prices depending on the time of day, day of the week, week of the month, or month of the year.
There’s no fancy content management system, live support chat, keyword stuffing of page titles or headings or content, and the word “cheap” doesn’t appear in that title the way that it does in most of the pages that you’ll see if you search for “travel” in one of the major search engines.
The word “sale” doesn’t show up once on my favorite travel site, and I’m not bombarded with information about how much of a percentage I’ll save on my journeys. There’s no inexplicable lawn gnome or a standard stock image of an operator with a headset, Canadian celebrity, or “top deals” or “packages” on its pages.
If you visit my favorite travel site, you may find yourself imagining that you can smell the salt air wafting through your windows. You may find yourself hearing people enjoying shops and cafes and life, echoing through roads empty of cars, filled with laughter and joy much like they were centuries ago. You may not feel like a tourist at all.
My favorite travel site doesn’t include top 20 lists, press releases, legal disclaimers written in all capital letters. But it does have a Frequently Asked Questions section that might have been written by a warm and knowledgeable friend or relative. It has a page of links that you could spend months studying so that when you arrive, you will have hundreds of things to do and likely not enough time to do them all. It has a picture gallery lovingly put together with views that make you wish you were there taking the pictures yourself.
My favorite travel site is for a couple of cozy and charming apartments in the heart of a city with a very long history and an incredible amount of charm. I’m not going to tell you which city, and I’m not going to give you a link to the site – I don’t want you to book one of the apartments before I do.
Though I’m tempted to send you there, I’m tempted to show you what this site is like, so that if you were to decide to build a site like it, you might do so. You might show me, rather than tell me, what I would see if I visited. You might talk to me as if I were an individual, explaining to me about the little things that I might experience – good and bad – and how to prepare for them. You might offer if the apartments are booked and unavailable when I intend to travel to contact you anyway, and you will help me find alternative places to stay.
But I won’t send you to the site. I might think about it, but I probably won’t. At least, not unless you ask me nicely.
I have no economic motive in writing about my favorite travel site. I have no interest in bringing you to its pages, except maybe to inspire you. But I did want to share a few thoughts with you about why it’s my favorite travel site. When I visit its pages, I feel like I’m there. I feel like I know the person who created the site and the people who make these apartments available. I feel like they want me to have an experience that I wouldn’t come close to having if I were to stay in a hotel that looks and feels like it could be anywhere in the world.
They’ve made me want to travel there in person.