I have been a member of Virtual Tourist for almost ten years. I like this site because it helps me record my vacation memories and share my holiday snapshots with others, while also being “helpful” and answering travel questions. For me, it’s not the best source of travel advice (the forums are pretty helpful but there are also a lot of old, outdated tips) but it serves as a great virtual scrapbook.
I’ve also been a member of Lonely Planet’s Thorntree forum for many years. In my opinion, these forums are the most active and reliable, with lots of advice from experienced travelers and locals. In addition to country- and region-specific advice, there are topical forums for things like travel technology, female travelers and budget travel. The wise users here do get sick of answering the same questions over and over, so make sure you do a search for your question and read others’ earlier responses before posting a new question.
I am relatively new to Couchsurfing, but I think it could be a great tool to connect travelers with both other travelers and locals. I’m always looking to host cool people visiting my city- sadly, it’s getting harder and harder to find cool people to host, as since the site became for-profit and changed the interface it’s veered dangerously close to becoming a dating site, or just a site to find people to drink with. I hope that Couchsurfing will reflect on its past success and revert back to something more like its original format, and intent.
What site doesn’t deserve its own image (in my opinion)? TripAdvisor. I will give TripAdvisor props for decent hotel ratings, but for anything else (restaurants, activities, etc.) the information is unreliable at best. I can’t count how many restauranteurs and tour guides in Eastern Europe asked me to leave them a good review on TripAdvisor, as though every traveler was checking it before deciding whether or not to do a free walking tour of Krakow. Who does use TripAdvisor for non-hotel information? Old people and people who don’t know how to use the internet. If that’s your demographic, then by all means plan your itinerary using TripAdvisor. If not, check one of the sites I’ve recommended above.