Building your internet travel toolbox

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January 14, 2009

By Judy McEuen
Travel Writer
Troy Media

Judy McEuen
Judy McEuen

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Jan. 14, 2010/ Troy Media/ — Every traveler needs an internet travel toolbox these days. A toolbox? You know, sites that can help you plan your trip. Put a “travel toolbox” category in your browser header then start bookmarking sites, and before you know it, you’ll have an internet travel toolbox.

I remember when we first started traveling, we would write, on paper, to tourist bureaus for information. I’m talking snail mail here!

We’d call or write to remote lodges for reservations and sometimes wait weeks to hear back if the only way to reach them was by mail. We have some friends in Botswana who discovered an interesting problem when cellular service started getting them all connected. They were used to communicating by slow mail: suddenly they complained that everyone wanted answers by the next day!

Instant communication and travel information at your fingertips have certainly changed things. The internet has made things so much easier. Do you have your own internet favorites that you use all the time? Consider those the start of your internet travel toolbox. Earmark your favorites on your computer. If you travel with a laptop or a smart phone, bookmark sites of those that are helpful to you. We have some suggestions:

It always pays to check on travel advisories. Government sites are probably best for these. Department of State Travel pages are where you want to look in the U.S. We always check advisories from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Canadian Foreign Affairs, and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs too. Check on your own government’s site.

It’s helpful to have a currency conversion site like Oanda bookmarked. Check those exchange rates before you leave. Sometimes you can make the conversions in your head, but sometimes it’s nice to print out the little “cheat sheet” they calculate for you.

There are websites that help you figure out those three letter codes for world airports. Something like World Airport Codes.com. That’s important if you’re buying your airline tickets online. You want to know if that San Jose Airport you’re flying to is in California (SJC), Costa Rica (SJO), or Mexico (SJD). Getting off in San Jose, California is OK if you’re looking for Silicon Valley, but not so good if you’re looking for a tropical beach!

Want to know about bus and subway systems wherever you’re going? Look up Urban Rail.net. You can find the subway stop for Chandi Chowk in New Delhi, India or Wall Street in New York City.

It’s a good idea to include the information for the airline you’re using and any hotels, travel agencies or car rental companies. If you’re renting a car, you could program in the local Automobile Association.

To get a little more personal, or a little more into the nitty-gritty of travel, there are always sites like the Bathroom Diaries to add to your internet travel toolbox. Not only can you read amusing stories but, if you’re a squeamish traveler, you might get help finding a toilet.

Keep in mind, however, that on this site, the reports are writing by other travelers so the lists are not comprehensive. Ah well, good as the internet is, you can’t have it all!

Channels: Calgary Beacon, January 15, 2009

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