by Amy Lillard
March 7, 2007 - Internet travel sites have become the standard for savvy travelers. But what sites are best? In a series of articles, we examine the travel site phenomenon and the best sites for reservations, ideas, and in-depth information.
Within the past decade, the world has become smaller. The advent of communication via the Internet, unhindered by location, has encouraged this globalization. But the web has done more than that.
With the click of a mouse, the world has become easier to traverse and see, for less than ever before. Using travel reservation sites, online hotel and airline reviews, and more, anyone with access and a modest credit card limit can find inexpensive and comprehensive trips around the world.
Online travel sites have become so ubiquitous, so valued by consumers, that it was one of the only industries to survive the dot.com crash at the turn of the century. Last year, 79 million people in the United States used the Internet when making travel plans, according to the Travel Industry Association.
The biggest of the online travel planning sites are Orbitz, Expedia and Travelocity, used in total by 28% of North Americans who book leisure travel. More sites join them everyday, allowing travelers unprecedented control over their business and leisure trips.
The online travel industry is also getting more specific and user-generated. Mimicking the “Web 2.0” sites like MySpace, Wikipedia, and others that allows users to create and dictate their own content, new travel sites are offering personalized reviews, information on special requests, and more.
Today's travel sites start with the beginning. Wondering where to take your next trip? Interested in learning what city is the best if you only have a day or two? The sites below are designed to get you thinking and dedicated to providing the best initial direction.
Whatsonwhen.com: Your guide to events and attractions around the world. If you're looking to travel on a certain date, or interested in specific countries and themes, you can search for art shows, festivals, special events and more. You might just find the perfect reason to travel.
Lonelyplanet.com: A comprehensive place for travel information. Search by region or theme, and learn about perfect honeymoon trips, great island getaways, and ideal roadtrips, among others. At the travellers' forum, thorntree.lonelyplanet.com, swap information and ask questions of thousands of other readers.
Timeout.com: If you're considering a certain city, research shops, restaurants, museums and more at this site. You can even narrow the options down into categories like romantic trips and full nights out and about.
Gridskipper.com: An “urban travel guide” that gives you the truth about big cities across the world. Search major cities and find interactive maps, strange and exciting events, and personal tips.
IgoUgo.com: Guides write detailed journals about recent trips, so specific information is available about everything you could want to know about potential destinations worldwide.
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In our next installments in this series, we will examine the best sites to reserve packages and flights, and techniques to get your ideal trip. We'll also look at sites offering insider travel tips, travel review sites, and more.
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