These days most travelers if anything face information overload with the number of review and information sources for cruises, hotels, even what seats are best on a given plane.

Having all this planning information available is a good thing. Too much can make choices difficult and confusing when there is contradictory advice. Beware, some of the worst difficulties and confusion come from listening to friends.

A recent example with the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel illustrates my point.

The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, originally a RockResort and the first luxury hotel on Hawaii’s Big Island, is a lovely property. It was closed recently for a complete renovation after engineers discovered significant damage after an earthquake.

In the process of renovating the rooms, some rooms in one wing were torn apart completely. Three rooms were combined into two, making those rooms huge by any standards. Other rooms were renovated and spruced up, but not as extensively.

The end result is a very wide variety of rooms. There’s an older beachfront wing with views that can be partially obscured by palm trees. The main building has smaller rooms but with better views. Finally, visitors find the more expensive super deluxe rooms with both good views and more space.

The details are almost irrelevant, except that every friend my client talked to told her something different. She heard, “You’ll wish you were closer to the water,” from one friend. Another told her, “You’ll wish you were in the main building.” Then after booking one set of rooms someone else noted, “You’ll wish you weren’t looking at those trees.” She changed rooms again and then was told, “You’ll LOVE the new rooms, but how much time do you spend inside, you’ll wish you saved the money for other things.”

In the end, after at least five room changes and some agony, she chose the beachfront wing. This was her first choice based on the information I sent her, and she and her husband should be happy. All the rooms have some advantages and the Mauna Kea also has great service that results in a lot of repeat guests. But she would have been happier – and wasted less time – had she just booked her first choice, based on my recommendation, in the first place.

It’s not that friends don’t mean well, it’s just that most people have definite ideas about what is and isn’t important during travel and about what a reasonable price is. (Don’t even get most travel agents started on what friends will say about what they paid for their flight or hotel. Not only is it often apples and oranges, we also often find the friend was either or mistaken or flat out exaggerating the deal they got.)

Sometimes too, listening to friends can do more than waste time or make you feel buyer’s remorse about your vacation.

Another client this week wanted a four country Eurail “Select” pass (Austria, Benelux, France and Italy), which a friend had told her about based on her proposed itinerary.

Upon getting more information as to what the trip entailed, I discovered that they were planning to take a train from Paris to Milan. Which goes through Switzerland. A country NOT on their list. Which would have meant their passes were invalid for that train.

Before I get nasty emails on the is post, taking what your friends say with a grain of salt doesn’t mean completely relying on what your travel agent says either. And once you’ve done your research, or had a trusted agent do it for you, often the best choice is simple what feels right to you.

If your final choice is not the choice your friend might have made, that’s okay. Tell them they should make a different choice next time.

Photo of Mauna Kea Beach Hotel by imotov/flickr.com/creative commons