Planning with the World Wide Web
by Laura Emery, Field Editor
We all love vacation, but most of us wish we could skip
the headaches, hassles and hindrances often encountered en route to that
picture-perfect getaway. You can reduce pre-vacation headaches by using the
World Wide Web to help you plan a trip filled with “Kodak moments.”
For starters, you need to find the ideal vacation
destination. For the best beaches, surf on over to Surf-sun.com
(www.surf-sun.com). Check out Getaways and Great Vacation Destinations
(www.virtualcities.com/ons/getaways.htm) for dude and guest ranches, places
to ski or fish, country inns and small hotels, or historic villages and
If you can close your eyes and imagine a
snowy-white-sand, coconut-palm-fringed beach stretching as far as the eye
can see, then visit Tropical-Island-Vacation.Net’s featured island getaways
(www.tropical-island-vacation.net/exotic-beach.html) without further ado.
One of the best vacation-oriented attributes of the Web
is comparison shopping among airlines to find the fairest of fares.
Microsoft’s Expedia Travel (www.expedia.com), Travelocity
(www.travelocity.com), and Orbitz (www.orbitz.com) are the “big three” of
online travel agents. Compare fares, schedules and availability, and book
hotel rooms and rental cars — all with a few clicks of the mouse. Or, there
are smaller travel Web sites like www.BookIt.com, www.VRBO.com (for vacation
rentals), www.cheapoair.com, www.travelguide.com and
At www.tripadvisor.com, you can read reviews about hotels,
restaurants, and specific locales.
Cruise Lines International Association’s Web site
(www.cruising.org) applies the deep-database concept to the world of
big-boat fun with ship profiles, worldwide destinations, a cruise finder,
and vacation planner.
AmusementPark.com is sure to make you dizzy from delight
at the never-ending collection of links to Amusement and Theme Parks with
stomach-sinking, pocket-emptying, lip-flapping, hair-raising rides fit for a
wild vacation experience.
Want to learn the inns and outs of the greatest places to
stay during your vacation? Somewhere out there is a cute inn cradled in a
meadow, nestled between towering peaks or surrounded by burbling brooks,
forests, and lakes — just waiting for you. Visit Inn Finder
(www.innfinder.com) or go to www.bedandbreakfast.com, which lists more than
11,000 B&Bs and inns across North America and around the world.
“Mi casa es su casa” is the concept behind the
International Home Exchange Network (www.homexchange.com) Web site. Cut
lodging costs by swapping your residence with a traveler who wants to take a
trip at the same time as you and visit your town. For a small fee, you can
be eligible to trade lodging with other members of the network. For the
skinny on street fairs, carnivals, and circuses, stop by Festivals.com
Not only is it the Boy Scout’s mantra, it’s the
difference between sitting on the beach during a torrential downpour and
getting a sheltered tour through an indoor attraction. You guessed it —
always be prepared. For travel tips about everything from bracing for
unexpected weather to flying FYIs, visit Weather.Com’s section on travel
tips. Also, toss those crumpled road maps and get
step-by-step directions from MapBlast (www.mapblast.com).
If you need to stay in a hotel during your trip, get a
lower rate by visiting Priceline.com (www.priceline.com) or the Hotel
Planner.com (www.hotelplanner.com), which has access to blocks of rooms
purchased in bulk.
Quelle heune est-il? If you don’t know what this says and
you’re planning a trip to France, then you’re in big trouble — but there’s
no need to worry because you can take a crash course in French, along with
roughly 70 other different languages, at Travlang (www.travlang.com) by
listening to the pronunciation of exotic words in RealAudio, or looking up
words in the translating dictionary.
Regardless of where your vacation destination happens to
be, make sure to stop by these recommended Web sites. When the luggage is
unpacked and the miles are traveled, you’ll appreciate the convenience and
ease of having planned your postcard-perfect vacation online.