Using the Internet For Travel

Fall 2011 CSANews Issue 80  |  Posted date : Sep 02, 2011.Back to list

Whether you're a veteran traveller to the sunny south or a greenhorn making the journey for the first time, the Internet can be your best friend as you plan this winter's trip.

From the comfort of your home, it can help you save hundreds of dollars, enhance your travels with free, up-to-the-minute destination information, maps and photographs, and provide instant access to the experiences of others.

With a few clicks of your mouse, you can take advantage of online deals, compare prices and make reservations, and join online discussion groups with those who have done what you are about to do.

Put simply, the Net has thrown open the doors to travel resources that were once accessible only to professional travel agents or found in guides and directories that were not always current.

"Trip planning means plenty of work," says Shayna Keces, a librarian at the main branch of the Ottawa Public Library, where she designs and delivers computer workshops for seniors and others. "But using your computer makes the job far easier because you will have access to much more information and the information is often more up to date."

To show how the Internet can work for you, let's hop into the car with a pair of snowbirds leaving Canada this winter for a four-month stay in southwest Florida. They may choose to spend three days (that's two nights in a hotel) on the road on their way down.

No time to track down a road map? Start your research with a visit to Google Maps at maps.google.ca. Click on the "Get Directions" button and you'll see a map and three suggested routes that will take you from your home, through a handful of U.S. states and directly to your destination. All information is printable from the site. It's a good idea to pick a location in which to stay, so that you can plan your next couple of days as well.

Where to stay? Visit www.tripadvisor.com for a list of hotels, complete with maps, photographs, ratings and comments from people who have stayed at each hotel. You can also try Yahoo! Traveltravel.yahoo.com; you'll have access to dozens of hotels, again with reviews from past visitors to help you make your choice.

Got questions? While visiting forums operated by sites such as TripAdvisor and Yahoo! Travel, you can pose queries that will help ensure that your trip comes off with minimal hitches. For instance, you might want to ask other travellers the best times to avoid traffic congestion in any large cities through which you will pass, which highways are under construction on your route – even where the best spots are to take your pet for a walk/bathroom break.

Looking for deals on accommodations? Go to www.hotelcoupons.com and type in the city in which you plan to stay. Up will pop a variety of money-saving, printable coupons. The site also gives maps to each hotel.

Hungry? TripAdvisor can recommend restaurants nearby, as well as by cuisine, neighbourhood and price range.

Want to take in some sights? Just do a quick Google search for the city in which you chose to sleep (don't forget to include the state!), include the word "tourism" in your search and Google will find you something fun to do during your stay!

By the time you reach the Florida border, sightseeing may not be a priority but, if you have time, Florida has many places to explore.

Remember to double-check your Google Map often, to ensure that you are headed in the right direction. If all goes well, you should arrive at your winter destination well-rested and stress-free, thanks to the research which you did on the Internet before you left home!