The Latest and Greatest in Online Travel Resources – Guide
* = Discussed in class
The following resources are written by authoritative sources, i.e. professional travel writers, journalists, or official tourism bodies:
- * Tourism Offices Worldwide Directory (http://www.towd.com/): a directory of tourist information bureaus throughout the world. These bureaus “provide free, accurate, and unbiased travel information to the public.” No destination information per se, but many of the bureaus have web sites.
- * Lonely Planet (http://www.lonelyplanet.com/): based on the popular series of print guidebooks – most of the print content is included in the web site. Aimed at independent travelers of all ages, budgets and tastes. Excellent interactive maps.
- Frommer’s (http://www.frommers.com/): also based on the print guidebooks.
- Fodor’s (http://www.fodors.com/):also based on the print guidebooks.
- Rough Guide (http://www.roughguides.com/): also based on the print guidebooks. Less online content than other sites of this type.
- * National Geographic Traveler (http://www.nationalgeographic.com/traveler/): based on NGT Magazine. Podcasts, Playlists, Travel Library offer destination-oriented content to help get you in the mood for your next trip. TripMarks are useful links beyond the NG web site. Places of a Lifetime is a comprehensive guide to 50 cities throughout the world.
- New York Times Travel (http://travel.nytimes.com/): a destination guide based on articles published in the NYT Travel section. NYT partners with Frommer’s in addition to providing their own recommendations. Nice interactive map. If the NYT hasn’t written an article about a place, there will not be much information about it in their destination guides. Recommended primarily for well-traveled places.
- * World Reviewer (http://www.worldreviewer.com/): organizes information around “experiences” (e.g. “birdwatching”, “sacred sites”) rather than geographical location. Content is written by its own writers, but for the time being all of the “experiences” lead you to third party tour operators. Good site if you’re looking for inspiration for your next trip.
These popular search engines also have their own destination guides, which are also quite good:
- Yahoo! Travel (http://travel.yahoo.com/)
- About.com Travel (http://www.about.com/travel/)
- AOL Travel (http://travel.aol.com/travel-guide)
User Reviews & Online Travel Communities
- * Wikitravel (http://wikitravel.org/): Voted by Time.com as one of the best 50 websites in 2008, Wikitravel is a free world-wide travel guide built in collaboration by travelers from around the globe. Over 20,000 destinations with information on lodging, transportation, food, nightlife, and other. Clean, easy navigation and lots of current tips for independent travelers. Readers can contribute to any page instantly.
- * Thorn Tree (http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/): One of the oldest and most popular online forums for travelers. Over 100,000 active threads, the Thorn Tree mixes hard travel information with more information discussion. Good for answering specific questions, advice on travel routes, etc.
- * IGoUGo (http://www.igougo.com/): One of the most popular online travel communities with over 350,000 registered users and 300,000 reviews. Contributors are rewarded with Go Points, which can be redeemed for gift cards and even frequent flier miles.
- * tripadvisor (http://www.tripadvisor.com/): Massive database of over 10 million professional and amateur reviews, mostly of hotels. Photos, maps provided for most property listings.
Trip Planning Tools: Before You Go
- * State Department (http://travel.state.gov/): information on passport and visa requirements. Also provides extensive information about travel safety and security concerns for every country.
- * Centers for Disease Control (http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/): provides information on what types of diseases or health concerns are prominent in a country, and what vaccinations and medications you should get before going there. Also tips on how to stay healthy while you travel.
- * Travel Health Online (https://www.tripprep.com/): provides more detailed information about diseases and vaccines. Also provides information and recommendations for a wider variety of potential travel health problems than the CDC page, e.g. altitude sickness, thrombosis. Requires a username and password.
- * Onebag (http://www.onebag.com/): award-winning site about “the art and science of travelling light.” Author provides tips on how to pack to go “pretty much anywhere, for an indefinite length of time, with nothing more than a single (carryon-sized) bag.”
- * Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush (http://www.dontforgetyourtoothbrush.com/): allows you to create your own customized checklist of things to do and pack before you go on a trip. Requires a username and password.
- * Home and Abroad (http://www.homeandabroad.com/): Generates highly customizable itineraries for over 100 cities based on your interests, the amount of time you have, and what your travel goals are.
- * TripIt (http://www.tripit.com/): Aggregates and organizes travel details, from flight confirmations to dinner reservations into a single document (private web page), which can be shared with others. Automatically adds trip-specific SeatGuru tips, weather reports and Google Maps.
Air Travel Tools
- * Kayak (http://www.kayak.com/): Considered the Google of travel search engines, Kayak efficiently and quickly searches hundreds of airlines fares and specialized travel sites from all over the world. User friendly filters narrow results immediately.
- * Vayama (http://www.vayama.com): Site focused exclusively on international travel. Excellent graphical interface good for exploring travel destinations.
- * Farecast (http://farecast.live.com/): First airfare prediction website that uses historical pricing trends to determine whether a fare will rise or drop.
- * Yapta (http://www.yapta.com/): Site monitors fare fluctuations before and after you book your flight. Enables travelers to get applicable credits if price drops (if travelers book directly with airline).
- * SeatGuru (http://www.seatguru.com/): Ultimate source for airplane seating, in-flight amenities and airline information, with more than 350 airplane seatmaps from over 50 different airlines.
Tools for the Road
- * XPenser (http://www.xpenser.com/): Online tool that allows you to record expenses via email, text message, instant message, Twitter, voice or from browser. Export information excel reports.
- * Google SMS (text g o o g l e, i.e. 466453): Free text message service from Google that allows you to send text queries to retrieve flight information, currency conversion, 411 business listings, weather and more. No browser environment required.
Apartment & Condo Rentals
The sites below provide listings of vacation apartment and condo rentals. This is a growing trend in travel because apartments/condos are often cheaper than hotels, and can allow for greater flexibility and freedom than a hotel room.
- * HomeAway (http://www.homeaway.com/): lists over 100,000 properties for rent from all over the world. A significant number of these are in the US and Caribbean, but Europe is fairly well represented.
- VacationVillas.net (http://www.vacationvillas.net/): A subsidiary of HomeAway, but allows you to search places by type (e.g. “on a farm,” “ski lodging”, etc.).
- Vamoose (http://www.vamoose.com/): claims to have over 200,000 rentals, which would make it one of the biggest sources for vacation rentals online.
- RentVillas (http://www.rentvillas.com/): lists picturesque villas for rent in Europe. Not for the budget traveler.
- craigslist (http://www.craigslist.org/): you can find “vacation rental” possibilities in almost every city for which craigslist has listings.
Although there is no one place that provides links to local city event guides (such as TimeOut New York), the following web sites (also mentioned above) do provide links to local media that list current events, exhibitions, live shows, etc.:
- “Links and Media” sections in National Geographic’s “Places of a Lifetime” (http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/places/places-of-a-lifetime/).
- “Nightlife” sections of Vayama City Guides (http://www.vayama.com/city-guides).
The terms “Eco-Tourism,” “Green Travel” and “Responsible Travel” refer to the growing trend in travel that has less of an impact on the environment, incorporates volunteering at a local organization, or somehow benefits the local community. Below are a few useful sites to learn more about this type of travel, or find agencies that specialize in organizing tours.
- Independent Traveler Green Travel Resources (http://www.independenttraveler.com/resources/article.cfm?AID=738&category=44): links to resources for independent, environmentally-friendly travel.
- National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations (http://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/sustainable/travelers.html): links to resources for “sustainable” travel.
- It’s a Green World (http://www.itsagreengreenworld.com/): listing of “green lodgings” throughout the world.
- Responsible Travel (http://www.responsibletravel.com/): tour packages.