For the Rest of Us
A guide for normal people
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Conde Nast Traveler's Epicurious
This site is devoted to cultivating the difference between being a
tourist and a traveler. Sure, content from the ubiquitous magazine is available.
What makes this site invaluable is the quality of the "insider" stuff appearing
only online. Typical of a package on online hotel bookings: It tells you
how it works, reviews Internet reservation sites with brutal candor and
offers easy-access links. The only disappointment is the forums -- not
for the quality of conversation (which is high) but for the lousy organization,
which makes a search an ordeal. If Conde Nast were to review travel forums
I daresay its report on its own would be scathing.
Microsoft's entry is the most user-friendly of the many sites claiming
to offer easy online travel reservations. Unlike many otherwise similar
services, the prices quoted by Expedia are comparable with real-time phoning
-- the cost of a round trip ticket to San Francisco via U.S. Airways was
$343 using both methods. And its hotel listings feature both unique properties
and the obvious national chains. There's additional travel content, some
useful. But if you have access to discounts like AAA, you'll still find
it cheaper to use the phone.
For simple directions to strange destinations, Mapquest is a terrific
resource. A basic approach to interactive road maps, you plug in your departure
address and destination and Mapquest spews out a route for you.
This breathtaking page of travel links lets you access airlines, online
booking services, budget and business travel, hotels, restaurants, guidebooks,
magazine, car rentals, maps and weather. On my quest for San Francisco
travel tips, a search yielded 133 Web site reviews along with other features;
selections included the San Francisco Reservations Service, alternative
bookstores, subway maps and Giants ticket availability.
-- Carolyn Spencer Brown
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