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May 5, 2011

Using the Internet for More Meaningful Travel

One of the advantages of the internet is how much closer it has bought the world.  I enjoy travel and have used various internet sites to book my travel and plan an itinerary.

One benefit I can think of is how we can book our travel online without a travel agent.  This enables us to price compare for plane tickets and hotels.  We can book our own travel packages without going through a travel agent. Some good sites are Travelocity and Priceline.  I have gotten good rates booking on both.  When booking where it more advantageous not to combine airfare and hotel(s), I have used Kayak.  This is an aggregator which compares hundreds of travel sites for the best rate.  I have used this individually for airlines and hotels.  In addition you can book a car rental or a cruise on these sites as well. 

Speaking about airlines, these days you can print your tickets and boarding pass.  In addition, just about all the airlines allow you to check in online up to 24 hours before your flight is scheduled to depart by going onto their website.  This eliminates waiting in line to check in at the airport and in this day of heightened security checks is one less thing to worry about at the airport.

There also are good sites to review hotels.  My preference is Tripadvisor. The hotels are ranked by reviews and I have found the reviews to be very useful in deciding which hotel to book.

There are also some good sites to plan an itinerary while travelling of places to see and do.  As mentioned previous, I use Tripadvisor to help plan.  Another good site is Virtualtourist.  The reviews are mainstream travellers for the most part.  Real people with real experiences.  You can get everything from museums, off the beaten path places and getting around.  The sites also offer forums to post and answer questions.  Another good site is Wikitravel.  You can get some real good information about the places you are going to on this site. There are also other sites to choose from.  They include the standard Frommers, Fodors and AAA.  Lonely planet and Igougo are 2 relatively more recent ones. It is a matter of your own personal preference.  As an aside, Igougo is an aggregator similar to Kayak.

Further if you do not use a GPS while driving, you can map your trip.  Google Maps will give you door to door directions.  You do not need to be a member of AAA to get an online triptik that you can download. To do this go to the AAA website.   Select in the online section not mail order section TripTiks.  Select your starting point and destination. Then select "Get Maps & Directions" After this completes, select on the left hand side "Print TripTik". When "Print Options" is displayed select "AAA Exclusive TripTik" and then "Create Print Version".  Your triptik is now complete.  You can print and/or download.  Further whether or not you are a member of AAA you can create an online account to save your triptik. Mapping your trip even if you are using a GPS can be useful in the event your GPS fails to work. 

Last but not least, you want to have an idea of what the weather will be like on your trip. and Wunderground are just 2 sites to help you pack for the expected weather  on your trip.

Following these tips will help you to have an enjoyable vacation.  After you are done, you may want to give your own review and perhaps upload your own travel photos.  One of mine is the featured picture for Yahoo travel New York

Enjoy your trip.