TruTravels Reviews - Group Tours, Travel forums and Keyboard Warriors - We type back! For some reason many people on travel forums become a bit snobby when they have gotten a few thousand posts under their belts (as if that means they are expert travellers). Unfortunately they tend to relish talking negatively about people and companies wherever they can. So, in this article we have called a few of them out who have unfairly cast doubt on our companies excellent name without any knowledge at all of what they were talking/arguing about. Have a read below and decide for yourself...
So, you’re a first time traveller to Thailand (or anywhere for that matter) and unsurprisingly you’re scouring the Internet and every other available source you can for info, tips, recommendations and advice related to backpacking or travel in Thailand. Or you may have heard of our tours and be frantically Googleing TruTravels reviews, "Group Tours" or related terms to find out what people think of them. We’ve all been there ourselves so we completely understand what it’s like to be bombarded by information and opinions from countless travel blogs, forum conversations and company websites all telling you to do this, do that, take this tour, don’t take this tour, visit this place, take this bus etc etc… Now, all of this info comes from different people with very differing views and opinions, or from companies who are trying to influence your opinion to get you to buy their product, so no wonder it seems like everyone is trying to get you to do something different.
What you have to remember is that everyone is different and will enjoy different travel experiences based on their character, preferences and of course the people they are with. Some people who are very confident or have maybe travelled before would prefer to simply get a plane ticket and land in Bangkok with a half empty bag and no plan. Other people may decide that they would rather have a bit of help or company for their first day/week/month in an unfamiliar land and so might look into one or more of the many group tours available to them. Some may decide they want to get completely ‘off the beaten track’ and plan less common excursions in an attempt to go where no backpacker has gone before… There is no ‘right’ way to do it, all of these options are fine and you have to do what you feel most comfortable with. Here's a post written by a recent TruTraveller on the positives of group tours.
No matter what type of traveller you are, nowadays there are plenty of online resources which you can use to help plan your trip or find information about things you are interested in doing. If you are considering doing a group tour of some sort then it is fairly easy to get an idea of the sort of tours offered by looking at company websites or brochures. Then of course, the first thing most people will do when they find something they think they like is hit Google and find out if its legit and what other people have to say about the particular trip/tour by looking at various online tour reviews and forum posts. The difficulty with some web forums such as Trip Advisor and Thorn Tree (the lonely planet forum) is that there are so many people using them with such varied opinions of what you should or should not do, it can become confusing. Often people are convinced not to take the option which may well be best for them because some ‘keyboard warrior’ (who has done far more blogging, posting & arguing about travelling than actual travelling) has jumped on his/her high horse and started ranting about how YOU should be doing your travelling when actually they have no idea about what you are intending to do or wanting to get out of your experience.
Our response: don’t listen to them. They need to get out of their bedrooms and do some real life stuff before they continue to give terrible advice to people they have never met because for some reason they like to advise people about things that they know very little about (and often argue with people they don’t know in an aggressive manner that they certainly wouldn’t be taking in real life…). The only reason anyone gives them the time of day anyway is because of the sheer number of posts they have accumulated on their forums of choice, and this requires no training, qualifications or experience. In fact the only thing that is really measured by the number of unhelpful, argumentative posts they have, is their absolute lack of anything resembling a life, not their travel expertise as you might think or as they would have you believe.
Before I get properly into my rant, here’s an amusing definition of a Keyboard Warrior we found on www.urbandictionary.com – KW = “A Person who, being unable to express his anger through physical violence (owning to their physical weakness, lack of bravery and/or conviction in real life), instead manifests said emotions through the text-based medium of the internet, usually in the form of aggressive writing that the Keyboard Warrior would not (for reasons previously mentioned) be able to give form to in real life….Keyboard Warriors are generally identified by unnecessary rage in their written communications, and are regarded as ‘losers’ by other virtual identities on the internet.”
The camp of keyboard warriors we refer mainly to in this post are the ones who have made it their own personal mission to try and stop as many people as possible from taking ‘group tours’ because in their opinions (mostly unfounded) they are: uncool, unreliable, overpriced, rubbish or otherwise unworthy of your time. Amazingly they usually form these opinions without actually doing any of these tours themselves and they then express these opinions as fact, often aggressively and almost always very self righteously. Almost as if they, being superhuman, would never need something as ridiculous as a group tour to show them around or how to have fun as they know all.. Just look at how many posts they’ve got. They must do… Just to be clear, some serial forum posters are actually knowledgeable about the topics they comment on and do offer helpful, constructive advice. Our beef is not with them. It is with the breed of keyboard warrior described above who comment on things they clearly don’t know about in an aggressive/abrasive way… Why would anyone do this? Please stop, it’s terribly sad.
Sitting in the opposite camp to these funny little men/women are the helpful forum posters who are genuinely trying to help people out and share their knowledge rather than just arguing and trying to look clever. They are generally a less opinionated and aggressive bunch and usually advocate both independent travel and group tours for those who would benefit from it. They give impartial advice based on travel experiences they have had themselves or on places they know a lot about. They also have a lot of posts under their belts but these tend to be informative and un-opinionated, focusing on facts rather than assumptions/opinion. They also never lose their shit or get arsy on a thread as they probably have better things to do then argue with a PC monitor. These guys are genuinely trying to help, not just prove a point and this is obvious by the language they use and the way they post. Take note below.
We hail from neither camp ourselves as we prefer travelling to writing and we only ever make an appearance on a message board or blog that isn’t our own if invited to, or if responding to stuff written about us. We just think everyone should do what suits them best and what will make their experience the best it can be (that’s what we do). If you have looked on enough threads on travel forums you will no doubt have come across both these types of KW and will have an idea of how the standard arguments go… In our opinion there are perfectly valid arguments for both sides: people who are against any sort of organised or group trip may relish the challenge of doing everything on their own in an unfamiliar land, or the opportunity for solitude and reflection which is fine – it is not that difficult to do, especially now days in Thailand. They may simply believe that they can do it cheaper themselves or that group tours aren’t fun or cool and in some cases they would be right (just not with TruTravels trips). Those considering tours may also be doing so for several reasons: No worries about getting ripped off or knowing where to go on arrival, no sitting around wasting time/money deciding what to do, no worries about travelling alone or meeting people. They may not have travelled to countries where they cant speak the language before and are a bit nervous about it, or they may just want everything taken care of for them so they can sit back and enjoy their holiday – all of which are also fine. If you want to have a look at some of our Thailand tours click here.
So, as mentioned, we think there are merits to both tours and independent travel and we don’t believe their is a right or wrong way to do it. We try and accommodate both by offering both long and short group tours as well as support with solo travel, and we welcome people to voice any reasonable opinions in a respectful manner. What we do not like about the anti tour Keyboard Warrior camp is the way most of them go about making their argument, much of the time trying to belittle people and make them feel like idiots for even suggesting they might consider a group tour. In their baffling attempt to impress the virtual world and prove how superior they are, many even site completely inaccurate information and try and pass off their own misguided opinions as fact rather than giving actual facts and letting people make their own choices.
All of us at Trutravels have experienced extensive solo, independent travel as well as joining several group tours in both Asia and the rest of the world. We really can speak from experience, having been on both sides of the fence on several occasions, unlike most keyboard warriors, who only have limited travel experience and lots and lots of experience trawling travel blogs and forums from their bedrooms. So you can really take our word (and our customers’) for it… Our tours are awesome.
We would certainly not try and take anything away from anyone for their choices. In our opinion, if you want to get away from home and see the world and have the guts and the drive to do something about it, (unlike most people who sit behind their desks complaining and wishing that they could do it themselves) then you are worthy of admiration regardless of how you do it. You certainly do not deserve to be belittled by smug little *ssholes sitting at their computers saying how only people incapable of doing things themselves would consider a group tour when travelling. This is not true at all, a few group adventure tours out there are amazing and only serve to add to any travel experience, you just have to find the right one for you (which is not easy if people who know nothing about it are spreading nonsense online). Anyone who has done this would know of course, hence why people in the ‘pro’ camp tend to have more open minds saying things like ‘do what’s right for you’ and mentioning reasons why it can be best to travel in a group tour, or on your own depending on your personality and what you want out of your trip
We specialise in providing unique, life changing experiences for young people and backpackers who want to make the most of their time away and take all of the hassle out of their first week(s) in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia and The Philippines. We are 100% confident that our tours are excellent value for money and that because of our travel philosophy and general way of doing things, we consistently show people the best weeks of their lives. Our online reviews are proof of this and anyone who doesn’t want to take our word for it is welcome to have a read of some of the many TruTravels reviews left by ex group members on independent tour review site TourRadar or Google or Facebook, you can check out blogs written by us on South East Asia Backpacker Mag, and many other respected and independent blogs who certainly don’t have to say nice things about us if they don’t want to.
As a company that prides itself in our ability to give people amazing experiences, we highly value the feedback we get from our customers, which as you can see from the links above is very positive. So… when we google TruTravels or TruTravels Reviews and read threads in which people are talking about us then we naturally take an interest. Having worked so hard to gain the sort of reviews we get from people who have actually been on our tours, you can imagine how baffling it is to come across threads like those below in which people we don’t know (and have certainly never done any of our tours) attempt to convince people not to travel with us and damage our reputation when they have no idea about who we are or what we do! Especially when those who have actually travelled with us only have extremely positive things to say! Who’s advice would you listen to? 1000’s of people who have done it and can speak from experience, or a handful of people who have never even heard of us, let alone had the courtesy to attempt to find out about us or get in contact before they talk sh*t about us online??
This leads me to an old thread I discovered on the Lonely Planet "Thorn Tree" forum, and in fact, one of the reasons I’m writing this blog… A prime example of the battle between good and evil… You can read the whole thread here.
As you can see, this thread was started by an innocent future backpacker who wants to make sure that he/she has found a tour company that will take care of their worries and show them a good time (Us, and we definitely would). Then enters Bangkok boy, a keyboard warrior of epic proportions who gets so upset about people even considering taking a group tour that you would have thought one of them had insulted his mother. Obviously that’s not possible as they are merely ideas combined with itineraries, and not even inanimate objects so the thought that someone like Bangkok boy could get so upset with them without even meeting one is of course preposterous and points towards mental instability before we have even read or analysed any of his weak and inaccurate arguments… Read the thread… You decide…
Lonely Planet Forum
In case you are having a hard time deciphering this guys nonsensical drivel then let me break it down for you… (Not actual quotes but near enough. Bold is what the ‘posters’ are saying and Italics and in ()’s is our commentary.)
“Backpacker” asks: I’m travelling alone, I want security, peace of mind and structure. I’m looking at TruTravels. Is it good?
“Fair person 1″ replies: Warning, lots of people on here don’t do tours (so you may get negative response).
Fair enough, he even gives a link to an old thread on the same forum which is very similar. I.e. Girl asks is, it good. Some people say maybe, some leave neutral comments. A KW who obviously hasn’t done the tour is very negative about it (funnily enough his account has now been removed, maybe he was too aggressive to someone), and the last two posts are Ellie, who replied with a nice review after she had travelled with us and good old Dan Tighe who we’ll hear from later.
“Bangkok Boy” of the Lonely Planet Forum “Thorn Tree” starts aggressively: If you want to pay 3 times what it costs to do it alone…….. – (are you an idiot or something?) Thailand is easy to travel around, many do it alone (true, they do, but she already said she’s a bit nervous so cut her a bit of slack eh?) The review above is probably fake, many are and the raft house shown is 400THB/night and their other accommodation is probably cheaper…. Work it out. Moron. WHAT?! That’s absolute bullshit and shows immediately he knows nothing about any of our accommodation. To stay a night in the Floating Bungalows at Khao Sok (an amazing place btw) if you were to do it alone, including all transport to get there would be a least 4000THB and probably more through a local Thai travel agent. You need a train from BKK, a taxi/ minibus from Surat Thani to khao sok, a boat from the dam to the raft house and then back to wherever you are going the next day plus accommodation and meals which are all included with us. If Bangkok Boy tells me how i can stay where we do for the night for even close to the 400THB he states then I’ll give him a tour for free! Here’s a pic of the ones we use now too (They are 1500THB/night to the public without any transport or meals…). nice hey?
“Fair Person 1″ again: Dans’ review probably ain’t legit but Ellie’s probably is.. We appreciate the repping mate but I’m afraid Dans is too. His name is Dan Tighe (mentioned above), he actually did the tour twice he liked it so much and came out to Thailand for a bit to help us with some web stuff so we can confirm he exists and it is a genuine review.
“Bangkok Boy” (this one is great): Well I did say ‘many’ not ‘all’ (like a little girl pouting) Many of the people who take these “tours” (in inverted commas, HA!!) not only cannot think for themselves, they certainly cannot write glowing references! (Yes, he actually wrote that!)
Hahahahahaha! What!? So you’re saying that people who do our tour are stupid and can’t even think or write? That seems a bit strong doesn’t it? We’ve had Dr’s on the tour, just last week a Bio-chemist and a pharmacist plus countless students. Are you accusing them of being stupid people, incapable of writing? Leave it out. Surely not even you could really believe this? Where did all the hostility come from? Did a tour company bully you as a child?
“Someone else” : Something irrelevant.
“Fair Person 2″ and I really like this guy: A few things to consider, – cost is not 3x more, maybe a bit more, maybe cheaper (true. Fair play). – you’ll prob go same places anyway (also true). – people criticise tours for silly reasons… (Absolutely) – Really not much difference, don’t be scared to go alone but don’t let idiots pressure you into not doing a tour if you want to do one. (Bravo! Couldn’t say fairer)
“Bangkok Boy” starting to lose his shit: ERM, £1100 per person? That = 3360THB per day!! Madness! At least 3x most peoples budget! Blah blah blah, why pay more for some, (and i quote) “screaming monkey to run in front of the tour group waving a flag and telling you “get on board or we leave without you”. Relaxing? Like hell it is.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. The price of the 18 day trip has never been £1100. It is usually £825 (at the time of writing) but is currently on offer at £701 that’s actually 1944THB per day for all accommodation, trips, activities, a guide, travel buddies, peace of mind, security, everything taken care of and all stress eliminated. Bad deal? I don’t think so. Best value on the market? Probably. Could you do it cheaper alone and do as much as we do and stay in the places we do? Probably not, but you are welcome to try if you want to risk paying more and missing a great time.
Now as for the tour group waving a flag and telling you ‘get on board or we leave without you’ relaxing? Like hell it is.” What a twat. Screaming monkey? That’s a personal insult to our awesome and lovely guides who you have obviously never met. Who the hell are you? Oh yeah, some guy sitting at home watching his computer screen. Right. So you can see the irony of you insinuating that our guides, some of the coolest people you would ever have the pleasure of meeting (should you ever pluck up the courage to leave your bedroom and talk to a real person), are not cool?? Anyone who has ever met Luke knows he does not scream and he certainly doesn’t run or wave flags. And Tanya, (whilst maybe partial to an occasional flag wave), can you imagine her saying ‘get on board or we are leaving without you?’ Anyone? No, I didn’t think so. Bangkok boy, you continue to prove you know nothing about the topic of the thread. Be helpful or shut up! Simple.
“Fair person 1″ I like him too: Something sensible and fair..
“Fair person 2″ great guy: Something equally reasonable and fair.
“Fair person 1″: something else.
“Andre “Dre” Asmodeus” our guy: Something else fair meant to give us some an input into an online debate about US… – gets removed by lonely planet. Not fair. (Hence the blog. Our response. Thanks for baring with us, it’s long but comprehensive I hope.) What makes it all worse is that (as you can see) someone replied to this thread on our behalf and it was removed by the lonely planet!! The person who replied was someone who did the tour back in August and had such a great time he came back to live and work with us in Thailand. Yes, its our very own Dre himself… Granted he’s now a good friend but he was speaking as a customer and was not trying to solicit custom from the site, only protect our good name by highlighting the blatant inaccuracies in the posts allowed to stay up there by pointing out the above in a diplomatic manner. yep, that’s Dre.
Though Bangkok Boys completely unfounded, catastrophically inaccurate and borderline libelous posts are just allowed to stay there for all to see. Where’s the justice? Seriously, just click on his name and read some of his other posts, nearly all aggressive, condescending or argumentative and meant to prove his apparent superior knowledge or convince people NOT to do things he doesn’t deem worthy.. Not constructive comments aimed at helping others as is the point of the forum. Surely it doesn’t matter if he has no experience in what he’s talking about or slating? Or no knowledge of the company who’s tours and employees he’s insulting? That’s fair right? No, of course it isn’t. It completely defeats the object of having sites like this out there for travellers to discuss pro’s and cons of places they have visited, activities and tours they have taken part in etc… Some people actually take the “advice” from these sites on board, so to have people saying whatever they like with no experience, evidence or even any knowledge whatsoever about what they speak will lead to all sorts of wrong decisions being made and many places, companies, attractions etc.. being attacked online because the KW in question doesn’t like the sound of it or they don’t think they would like it if they managed to drag themselves away from their computers and actually do something in real life.
Who gives them this authority and allows them continue to “advise” in this ridiculous and counterproductive way? Two groups really, both the public who give the time of day to what they are saying and much more worryingly (mainly because most of the public don’t know any better), the forums themselves!! Yes, that’s right, the worldly, educated, all knowing companies like Lonely Planet and Trip Advisor allow these KW’s to go round spouting whatever sh*t they fancy. They sometimes even go so far as to give these people “admin” or “location expert” tags within the forum so they have even more power to say what they like and even remove the posts of people who dare to question them or oppose their often completely inaccurate opinions.
This is a common problem for tour companies like us who are different from the norm and are attempting to establish ourselves as one of the companies who do genuinely do things differently and offer a unique and very cool experience. The task of communicating this to our market is a difficult one which is made more difficult by people like Bangkok Boy who aggressively attack all tour companies in the public domain and assume us all to be the same with no actual knowledge.
To be fair it is becoming more recognised and people like fair persons 1 & 2 are sticking up for the little guys like us in a reasonable and impartial manner. Even the bad guys are not usually as abrasive as Bangkok Boy and I would not usually rant like this about the standard threads but for the sheer ignorance of his posts and the injustice of us not being able to respond on the medium on which we are being attacked (the Lonely Planet Thorn tree forum).
However, whilst I’m on the topic and since I have addressed two of the threads on lonely planet already, It’s worth mentioning this thread on Trip Advisor. Nothing too bad but still enough to put doubt into the mind of a potential customer at a glance if the thread comes up in a Google search of our name or reviews. This thread is entitled,“TruTravels,reliable tour company?” – which is bad enough as people who do not know that we certainly are may have doubts put in their mind by the title alone – Again, their words in Bold, our commentary in Italics & ()’s.
Trip Adviser Forum
It starts with another innocent future backpacker asking if anyone knows about us and saying that he has read about scams of people claiming to be members of the TTA and other organisations etc… Can anyone advise? (Fair enough question though you can check online yourself on the TTA website if we are members easily enough. We are. Though we could name a few other companies who aren’t financially protected if we wanted to.)
“Innocent backpacker”: No response, maybe not good? (Our bad, we didn’t spot this and should have responded sooner.)
Few people saying DIY is better way to go.
Followed by a few people backing us up with facts. Followed by the inevitable doubters…
Someone questioning the validity of the people backing us up, and someone saying “here we go again”.
See it’s a common argument. Then there are a few more people backing us up with links etc and hard evidence which you would think would silence the doubters but reviews which have sprung up from our old pal Dan Tighe and the one and only Jamie Cummins (who was on our first ever tour) just sparked more skepticism. Sorry but again, these first posts which also happen to be glowing reviews are completely genuine. Just people trying to help us out cos we gave em a good time.
Ok. Nuff said. Rant over. I think this should be enough to answer the bad keyboard warriors and prevent any of you potential TruTravellers out there from listening to them and making a terrible decision to not join us on tour. That being said, you have to make your own decisions and if you feel completely independent travel is the way to go then go for it. If you are in doubt and want a helping hand or you want to guarantee meeting people and having travel buddies from day one or even just to take all the hassle out of your first weeks then we would be happy to help you out and we guarantee you will have an awesome time with us!
Peace out for now x
P.S. Dear Bangkok Boy, If you read this which we think you will, then we would be more than happy to hear from you directly for a friendly chat. Our email is firstname.lastname@example.org and our contact number is on the site. Let’s not be silly and continue to talk about or to each other over the internet when we don’t even know each other, we are often in Bangkok so could even catch up for a beer. In fact, why don’t you join us on a trip? On us. Honestly, no joke, if you feel like getting out of the house and out of Bangkok for a week then pick a start date, get in touch and you can come and see how wrong you are about our tours and how you definitely would not be able to do it all cheaper by yourself. The only condition and thing we ask is for you to direct your internet anger towards other, more sinister groups than group tour companies and actually tell people the truth about us having seen it for yourself. Deal? We look forward to hearing from you!