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Coming & Going: Web tool helps friends coordinate spring break trips

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Spring break social hour

Want to know where your friends will be hanging out for spring break? Just trot on over to Gtrot.com.

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Launched by two Harvard undergrads in late December, the new social travel Web site, designed to keep college students in the know about where their buddies are vacationing, already has 1,200 users and is expanding to other Ivy League and West Coast schools.

By linking their Facebook accounts to Gtrot.com, students get access to details about their friends' past and future trips. Using the site's friend map, they can filter trip information by friend, by city or by holiday.

Travelers can also book flights and hotels through the site and share their itineraries so that friends can book the same trip. And for those perennially on a budget, there's a tool for sharing cabs and rides.

Farther south, Panama City Beach, Fla., is also giving spring breakers a hand with its new online guide, http://www.visitpanamacitybeach.com/springbreak. The site pairs the usual travel info, such as accommodations and dining, with its Wingman's Guide and Girlfriend's Guide. Recommendations for guys include golfing, jet skiing and fishing; girls share some of those diversions, plus shopping and spa-going.

The site also occasionally impersonates an RA, listing the calorie count of alcoholic beverages (women's page) and the high cost of getting arrested (gentlemen's side). CoGo's favorite: the rolling list of spring break dates at colleges nationwide. Now you'll know whether you'll be avoiding your rival school or kicking it up with the biggest party school on the planet.

Amtrak and WiFi

Amtrak has begun offering free -- for now, at least -- WiFi service on Acela Express trains and in some Northeast Corridor stations (including Philadelphia and New York). We sent our colleague Rob Pegoraro to Baltimore and back to test it out last Wednesday. His verdict: Fast in stations but slow and limited on the train.

At Union Station and Baltimore's Penn Station, Pegoraro had more than enough bandwidth to watch Web video or tune into Web radio. On the train, he found out that AmtrakConnect blocks access to sites that either require high bandwidth or, in Amtrak's view, contain questionable content. He was out of luck when he tried to log on to Hulu and YouTube and Match.com and eHarmony. But have no fear: Facebook was good to go. For more about Pegoraro's train ride, go to http://voices.washingtonpost.com/fasterforward.

Reporting: Andrea Sachs and Nancy Trejos. Help feed CoGo. Send travel news to: cogo@washpost.com. By mail: CoGo, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071


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