A few years ago, my family and I were planning a trip and I was tasked with choosing a restaurant. I searched the internet for several minutes before stumbling upon TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor is the world's largest travel site and hosts reviews for over four million restaurants. As such, it seemed to be the premier option for me.

After typing in the location of my trip, I was given a list of 9,627 restaurants. As daunting as this is, I began attempting to add filters until I had narrowed the list down to just twenty five. I chose one and ended up having one of the best dining experiences of my life. With time, I have refined these research skills to become a  frequent and effective TripAdvisor user. I will show you how to have the same success I have had, time and time again. 

Step One: Enter Search Terms

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Max Leo
When you first get to the homepage of tripadvisor.com, you will see a search bar like the one above. To do a general search, you can simply enter Restaurants in the "Find" section and the town or city you are interested in in the "Near" section.

If you have a more specific idea of what you are looking for, then these sections allow for that. Instead of entering a basic term such Restaurants, you can enter Italian Restaurants or Steakhouses. The same applies for the "Near" field. You can enter a specific neighborhood, such as Upper East Side instead of just New York City.  

Step Two: Apply Filters

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Max Leo
Once you have selected your destination and searched for restaurants, you will be brought to a screen showing all the restaurants in that area. This can be rather overwhelming, so the filter terms on the side (outlined in red) will allow you to search by food type, meal, amenities (outside seating, WiFi, etc.) and even price range. If used, these will compile a useful list of restaurants.

Restaurants are listed from highest rating to lowest rating, so if you are having trouble finding applicable search terms, it may be helpful to simply look at the list as a whole. There are 20 results per page, so after looking at two or three pages without any luck, you will know that it is time to apply filters. 

Step 3: Read Reviews

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Max Leo

Once you have selected a restaurant, you will want to look at the reviews people have given it. It is very important to realize that you should take reviews with a grain of salt though. Just because one person had a bad experience doesn't mean everyone will. However, if the average rating is more than three stars, then the reviews should be checked over carefully.

The biggest thing to look for when looking at reviews are trends. If you continue to see the same problem, then most likely you would face it as well if you were to visit the restaurant. Every establishment will have some unhappy customers, but you want to find one where the satisfied drastically outweigh the dissatisfied.

Step 4: View the Website

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Max Leo

Once you have chosen a restaurant that you believe you want to visit, you should visit their website. This will normally have pictures of the establishment so you can judge how formal or informal it is. Also you can look at the menu to see if they have food that you want to eat. This will also often give you a chance to see how much a meal would cost. 

Book and Eat

Now that you've decided on a restaurant, it's important to make a reservation. Even if you end up getting to the restaurant and it's empty, a reservation is always a safe bet that can save you a lot of waiting time. Many restaurants can be found on OpenTable, which prevents you from even having to interact with anyone. 

The final part is to actually go to the restaurant! After putting in the time to find it, you get to be rewarded with the wonderful delicacies you will definitely devour. Once you finish the meal, pass the favor forward by writing your own review to help others find their next favorite restaurant.