25 Top Internet Sites for Finding Travel Information Travel Help

As the economy dips and travel budgets tighten, more travelers are turning to the Internet to save money. The Web is a unique source of discounts and deals, but saving a buck isn't its only virtue. Even more valuable is the wealth of free information that can enhance trips. The Internet can help users choose the right cruise, find a nice B&B;, get insider advice from fellow travelers, even maximize frequent-flier miles. It's no wonder the World Wide Web has become the top planning tool for travelers, according to the analyst firm PhoCus-Wright. news isn't how many people are booking online; it's how travel sites keep improving. Old favorites like Expedia have introduced new consumer-friendly features, while newcomers such as Orbitz are delivering next-generation search tools. There's still tons of chaff out there, and finding the wheat can be confounding, but the 250 sites below should help almost any traveler start off on the right foot.

Advice

About.com: Travel (http://www.about.com/travel). Specialists compile selections of the best links for destinations (Las Vegas, etc.) and travel subjects (adventure, family travel ... ), making About.com a good launching pad.

Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel Online (http://www.frommers.com). Frommer's is putting the full content of its print guides online, with a daily newsletter on the latest travel deals, chats with its guidebook authors, Arthur's Tip of the Day and lists of budget travel secrets.

California State Parks (http://www.parks.ca.gov). Rather than battle the hordes at Yosemite this summer, why not visit one of California's state parks? This official government guide sorts parks by name, county and region and offers online reservations for camping sites. With fees cut by half since last summer, state parks are ideal for budget-minded travelers.

CDC Travelers' Health (http://www.cdc.gov/travel). The authority for advice on inoculations, precautions and outbreaks around the world, this site from the federal Centers for Disease Control has topics ranging from "Safe Food and Water" to "Traveling with Children."

CitySearch (http://www.citysearch.com). With reams of timely advice about arts, movies, nightlife and restaurants, CitySearch is a good complement to any guidebook. The site reviews theater, music and other performances. Its partner TicketMaster sells event tickets online.

CruiseOpinion (http://www.cruiseopinion.com). With more than 4,800 cruise reviews organized by cruise line and ship, CruiseOpinion is a wide-ranging resource for honest cruise advice. Cruisers rank ships on everything from crew courtesy to midnight buffets. Many include their e-mail address so you can contact them if you have further questions.

GORP (http://www.gorp.com). Short for Great Outdoor Recreation Pages, GORP is the definitive site for outdoor enthusiasts. You'll find extensive advice on hiking, fishing, biking, climbing and a new booking service helps locate outfitters. Away.com and Trails.com are other good outdoors sites.

Lonely Planet http://w(http://www.lonelyplanet.com). Not just for backpackers, LP's site offers Upgrades--printable guidebook updates on more than 50 destinations. Also see Postcards, sage advice from travelers around the world. Worldguide has tips culled from LP's books for almost every destination on the planet. And for a fee, LP's CitySync (http://www.citysync.com) lets you download mini-guides into handheld computers.

MapQuest.com (http://www.mapquest.com). This handy map site can provide turn-by-turn direon United withto a one-stop on National.

SideStep (http://www.sidestep.com). This plug-in downloads into your browser. When you enter your data into Expediather booking engines,, for example, SideStep captures this data and checks airline sites for better fares. Sometimes SideStep turns up bargains, but the data it can capture raises privacy concerns.

Quikbook (http://www.quikbook.com). A good source for discounted hotel rates, especially when booking at the last minute., Quikbook offers hotel booking for more than 40 U.S. cities. Another good site for discounted lodging is http://www.hoteldiscounts.com.

BedandBreakfast.com (http://www.bedandbreakfast.com)v. With pages for more than 25,000 inns throughout the world, this is a good source for finding B&Bs.; Most properties include pictures, and some have reviews.

Biztravel (http://www.biztravel.com). Catering to business travelers, this site can help you maximize mileage gains when booking travel. Biztravel guarantees the promptness of some airlines' flights: If a guaranteed carrier's flight arrives more than 30 minutes late, you get a rebate of up to $100.

Hotwire (http://www.hotwire.com). If you're flexible, check Hotwire for bargain air fares, hotel rooms and rental cars. Like Priceline, it won't let you name your flight times or airline, but unlike Priceline it will reveal the price. so there's no bidding.

Expedia (http://www.expedia.com). As its competition has improved, Expedia has met the challenge, showing more flight options for each itinerary. Expedia offers bargain rates negotiated directly with airlines and hotels. Expedia's VacationSpot features more than 25,000 vacation rentals around the world.

Hotwire (http://www.hotwire.com). If you're flexible, check Hotwire for bargain air fares, hotel rooms and rental cars. Like Priceline, it won't let you name your flight times or airline, but unlike Priceline it will reveal the price so there's no bidding.

OneTravel (http://www.onetravel.com). More than 20 airlines offer last-minute deals. OneTravel's Savings Alert saves you the trouble of checking multiple airline sites. It has bargains on flights, hotels and package vacations.

Orbitz.com (http://www.orbitz.com). Backed by five major U.S. airlines, Orbitz launched this month with considerable fanfare. After a turbulent takeoff, the site is turning up some good deals, notably airlines' late-breaking specials. Orbitz neatly displays domestic fares on a matrix, making it easy to compare, say, a nonstop fare on United with a one-stop on National.

Quikbook (http://www.quikbook.com). A good source for discounted hotel rates, especially when booking at the last minute, Quikbook offers hotel booking for more than 40 U.S. cities. Another good site for discounted lodging is http://www.hoteldiscounts.com.

SideStep (http://www.sidestep.com). This plug-in downloads into your browser. When you enter your data into ther booking engines, for example, SideStep captures this data and checks airline sites for better fares. Sometimes SideStep turns up bargains, but the data it can capture raises privacy concerns.

OneTravel (http://www.onetravel.com). More than 20 airlines offer last-minute deals. OneTravel's Savings Alert saves you the trouble of checking multiple airline sites. has bargains on flights, hotels and package vacations. Site59.com (http://www.site59.com). Interested in a last-minute weekend getaway but prefer to let someone else package your trip? Site59 vacations range from "Culture and Cacti" in Phoenix to a Memphis music getaway. Another last-minute site is http://www.lastminutetravel.com.

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Michael Shapiro is the author of "Internet Travel Planner" ($18.95, Globe Pequot, 2000).

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