According to a recent study by the Travel Industry Assn. of America, more than 14 million U.S. travelers will venture into cyberspace to research this year's vacation or business travel plans.
Below, a sampling of 20 sites usually worth the journey:
Best Fares (http://www.bestfares.com). A weekly roundup of Internet-only deals on air fares, hotels and car rentals, plus time-sensitive "Snooze You Lose" air fare specials.
BizTravel.com (http://www.biztravel.com) focuses squarely on business-travel road warriors, combining an airline and hotel reservation service with a program that automatically tracks points and miles in a variety of frequent-traveler programs.
California Division of Tourism (http://gocalif.ca.gov). The site's recently added storm updates include the latest on how El Nin~o has impacted road conditions across the state.
Centers for Disease Control (http://www.cdc.gov/travel). Check here for vaccination requirements and recommendations, advice on preventing common travel-related ailments, health information targeted to specific geographic regions, and cruise ship sanitation inspection scores.
CNN Travel Channel (http://www.cnn.com/TRAVEL). A news junkie's delight, CNN's site is best known for its daily updates of events and trends that impact travelers.
Cruise Critic (keyword CRUISE on America Online; on the Web at Travelocity: http://www.travelocity.com). Features include ship reviews, a first-time cruiser guide and a lively, highly opinionated readers' forum.
CultureFinder (http://www.culturefinder.com). A searchable database of schedule and contact information for more than 100,000 classical music, children's, dance, opera and theater events in about 500 cities across the U.S. and Canada.
Frommer's Outspoken Encyclopedia of Travel (http://www.frommers.com). If you can put up with the jarring graphics, Frommer's site lives up to its name, with contacts for airline, cruise and hotel discounters, plus excerpts from his newly launched Budget Travel magazine.
GORP (http://www.gorp.com). The recently revamped Great Outdoor Recreation Pages remains one of the best places to find hiking, camping and gear information.
History Channel Traveler (http://www.HistoryTraveler.com), an online offshoot of the cable television show, highlights thousands of historic and pop-culture sites, landmarks and lodgings across the country. Also includes self-driving and walking tours and a calendar of events searchable by subject, region or date.
International Assn. of Air Travel Couriers (http://www.courier.org). If you've always been curious about the rock-bottom fares available to passengers who give up their baggage allowance to shipping companies in return for steeply discounted fares, this site can fill you in. To see actual listings and fares, however, you'll need to enroll as an association member.
MapQuest (http://www.mapquest.com) supplies detailed driving instructions within the United States, door-to-door directions for dozens of U.S. metropolitan areas, and street-level maps for destinations around the globe.
Microsoft Expedia (http://expedia.msn.com). While none of the Web's reservation mega-sites are as comprehensive or user-friendly as they should be, Microsoft's status as the industry's 400-pound gorilla is evident here. A new vacation mall includes cruise deals, Amtrak tickets, resort packages and travel gear.
NetGuide Travel (http://www.netguide.com/travel) is a well-organized road map to travel offerings on the Web, grouping selected sites by such categories as adventure travel, city guides and discount travel.
Pets Welcome (http://www.petswelcome.com) helps mouse-wielding pet owners find a temporary home for their critters by searching through an extensive roster of dog, cat and bird-friendly hotels, motels and B&Bs.;
Tourism Office Worldwide Directory (http://www.towd.com). No bells or whistles here, but you will find addresses and phone numbers for more than 1,700 government tourism offices, convention and visitors bureaus and similar agencies around the globe--along with a link if the agency is online.
Travlang (http://www.travlang.com). This expanding resource provides basic terms and travel-related phrases in more than 60 languages, including sound clips recorded by native speakers.
U.S. State Department (http://travel.state.gov). The State Department's travel site includes entry requirements for foreign countries, the latest travel warnings and consular advice, and a primer on how to obtain or renew a passport.
Yahoo! (http://www.yahoo.com/Recreation/Travel/) ranks as one of the Web's best travel resources. Yahoo!s own travel area includes an easy-to-navigate flight reservation system, while its exhaustive directory includes more than 40 categories.
Zagat Survey (http://www.zagatsurvey.com). Most useful are the links to Zagat's partner sites, where you'll find selected Zagat restaurant reviews for more than 30 metropolitan areas across the U.S.