Today, anyone who can operate a mouse can plan a trip online, but finding what you need can be a journey in itself.
Ed Hewitt, who writes the Traveler`s Ed column for IndependentTraveler.com
suggests you start on familiar territory at favorite sites, then start clicking your way out into the wilderness.
“I find myself going back to my favorite sites to start my planning,” says Hewitt, a world-class rower and world traveler who became an online travel writer seven years ago. “Then I`ll launch out to the remote places on the Web for the local flavor I crave as a traveler.”
Hewitt, whose advice is featured in the comprehensive Traveler`s Resource Center in IndependentTraveler.com also suggests these tactics:
* Go with folks who know. The publishers of the best print destination guides also create many of the best online destination guides. Some of the best: LonelyPlanet.com, Fodors.com, www.frommers.com
* Try this: pick up a guidebook, then see if that small cafe they mention is on the Web. Once there, start clicking the links to other local sites. Pretty soon you`ve taken a tour of all the local joints. I`ve used this tactic to rent local beater cars on Maui, find cheap vacation rentals in Sydney, and find surfboard rentals in Spain. It`s work, but it works.
* For bargains and online travel deals try the larger booking engines, such as Travelocity.com. Pick one and stay with it - tell it your seat preferences, your frequent flyer numbers, everything. But don`t be afraid to compare fares now and then on another site to make sure you`re getting the best deals.
“Make sure you also check the Bargain Box at IndependentTraveler.com for special offers; at a glance you can figure out where all the sales are. I`ve found deals here that no booking engine wanted to show me,” says Hewitt. “Other places I`ve found deals I couldn`t find anywhere else: CheapTickets.com
. For multi-stop international flights or around the world flights, you can`t beat www.airtreks.com
“Word of mouth is your ticket to the world`s best places that fit your needs and lifestyle,” says Hewitt. “Seek out travelers and ask their advice on message boards like those at IndependentTraveler.com.
“And I admit I am partial,” says Hewitt, “but I truly believe there`s no more complete or reliable collection of travel tips and resources than IndependentTraveler.com`s own Traveler`s Resource Center.”