There have been a lot of changes in the tourism industry in the last decade. (Well, how is that for the biggest understatement on this blog?) The negative ones get all the press and yeah, I’m known to rant and rave about them too. But today I’m all about the positives. Particularly one big giant positive.
You can now book attractions online, ahead of time.
I know this sounds incredibly simple. You might even be thinking, is that all she’s going to say? I do that already! But seriously, this is huge. It’s changed things completely. And every time I walk right into an attraction, right past a queue that sneaks around the building, I can’t quite believe how few people actually utilise this service.
Well, maybe because the service can be at times, um, confusing. But persistence pays off. So here I am, at the risk of sounding like an advertisement, giving you our recent trip to Russia as an example. I even said at the time, “I’m going to blog about this.” Here we booked a few things before we left home; Kremlin tickets in Moscow as well as Hermitage tickets, ballet tickets and Catherine’s Palace tickets in Saint Petersburg.
Everything else (more museums, a couple of churches and a canal cruise) we figured out when we got there. I want to stress this; you don’t need to book everything. Sometimes it’s a bit of a gamble; we walked right into Saint Basil’s Cathedral without even queueing, for example. Other things you can’t book at all; to see Lenin’s Mausoleum, be prepared to either queue for an hour or be really Russian and cut in just before the entrance (as was the case for us, right under our noses. I was so dumbfounded I applauded them for their efforts).
The Hermitage tickets were the easiest; the website was in English, we could pay in US dollars and we didn’t even have to pick a date. We had six months to use them. Contrast that with the one or two hour queue of people standing out in the rain. Not only that, we had a separate entrance which was an oasis of calm. Tickets are a bit more expensive than in person, but it’s worth it.