TripTiks You Can Design Online

Long before MapQuest or Yahoo Maps or on-board navigation systems, there was the humble Auto Club TripTik--the spiral-bound driving guide with turn-by-turn directions. Now, Auto Club members can make their own free TripTiks online.

Go to http://www.aaa-calif.com, and put in where you are, where you want to go and whether you want to take the scenic or the speedy route. The program chugs along for a few seconds and then spits out complete directions.

You can then chop them up into printable segments with maps that show restaurants, lodging and Auto Club offices along the way. Be warned: Even on nice machines with high-speed Internet access, the maps can take a while to generate.

If you have plenty of time, opt to have the Auto Club mail you a bound TripTik. It takes about a week, but it's less hassle than printing out all those pages and then organizing them. We like the TripTiks better than anything offered by competing map services.

Once you know where you're going, check out satellite images of your destination at http://terraserver.homeadvisor.msn.com or http://www.mapquest.com. MapQuest makes it easier to find specific addresses and delivers some photographs in color, but both sites offer a novel way to see the world the way spies do.

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