A Tripadvisor.com user posted a picture of himself posing in the bathroom of his London hotel room. Despite how that might sound, there's nothing dirty about it, unless you count the fact that in the picture he's filling up a bucket with water to help him flush the toilet. See, in his review of the Garden View Hotel, the user from Barcelona says that the toilet wouldn't flush without pouring a bucket of water on top to get the plumbing moving.

There are thousands of candid pictures like this available online, as even the most established online travel sites are harnessing the Web's collaborative potential to enhance their offerings. The member of Barcelona-based Tripadvisor and his hotel bathroom photos are just a few of the millions of similar contributions. Never before have prospective travelers had an opportunity to look this candidly into potential travel destinations.

User-generated content has exploded over the Internet, and, from blogs to Wikis to My Space, real-life user commentary is trumping established media and brands. A few years ago, there was talk of the death of traditional travel agents, as people around the globe clicked their way to e-tickets at online travel-agent sites, like Orbitz and Expedia. Now the established travel guide sites are under attack, as are hotel, restaurant and resort-sponsored Web sites. Travelers have taken to the Web and are now providing real-time, illustrated, no-holds-barred travel guides.

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