BBC Online's web producer, Rob Freeman, takes us on a tour of the web.
Each week he gives us his tips on the top sites worth watching. ll find it very
week I'm going to take a look at the web's best Travel Sites, and I thought I'd being with
the online versions of some of the major travel guidebooks. Fodors one of the Grandfathers of travel
writing, having been around for 60 years. The Rants and Raves section is a new addition, though it doesnt really
have enough feedback yet for you to make a good judgement on the various hotels and
restaurants listed. Some people really stick the boot in. This writer, from Belgium,
details his stay at a London hotel: 'I've never seen a worser (sic) hotel than this
one. the breakfast was horrible and the room was just big enough for 2 beds. It was awful'.
Lets Go is staffed and run by students and the website needs some
time to mature I think since of all these sites it's probably the least easy to navigate
around in. The divisions all have confusing names, like Yellow Jacket, Thumb and Series.
If youre not familiar with the books already, and I wasnt, this doesnt
make it any easier. The sites also rather too quick to get you to buy a copy of a
book online rather than give you travel information. A case of Lets Go... to a
better web site.
Rough Guides claim to put the entire text of their publications on the web
so you can read it for free. If so, they dont make it terribly easy to find. Lots of
countries, like Pakistan for instance, are missing from the drop down menu and if you try
to find New Zealand in the search box its as if it never existed. However once you
do find what you want it is well indexed, there just doesnt always seem to be a lot
There seems to be an awful lot at Lonely Planet it just isnt very well indexed. It is however, the
easiest to move around in - you're presented with a big colour atlas of the globe which
you click to zoom in on an area, then select the country. By far the most useful
application of these websites, as this goes for all of them, not just Lonely Planet, is
once youve bought the book, the website and other travellers can keep you up to date
with conditions in every country. If you visit somewhere and it wasnt like they said
in the book, you can let everyone else know. For example, lets look at Travellers
Reports on India: there are lots of good tips here, including how to extend visitors
visas and avoiding some of the more inventive scams, but theres just too much
information on this page. If you can struggle through it you
you're a fan of the more quirky writing style as exhibited by Rough Guide, or Lonely
Planet, for the most part I've found these web sites to give pretty much the same
information. For a more esoteric information source you can try Internet newsgroups. There
are several groups dedicated to travel, and they're all in the recreation or rec areas. If
you don't have newsgroups on a mail reading programme or your browser, you can log into Deja news and read them there; if you
type travel into the search window, that should get you started (although for some reason
it also gives you Alt.freeemansonrt!) On the main homepage of deja, there's another travel section, now these aren't
newsgroups, but they are a way of finding more about cities and attractions all over the
There are many other major guidebook site online, notably Fielding, Frommers, Intrepid and Moon Travel.
If you'd like to order a guide or map online you'll also find plenty of opportunities from
online bookshops or from travel bookshops such as Adventurous Traveller, Literate Traveler, Stanfords
and Travel Books & Maps.
Many online travel agents also provide destination guides, which might include exclusive
editorial peppered with chunks licensed from guidebooks linked to further material on the
Web. For example Away.com, Escaperoutes or Travel Vision.
If you've got a Palm Pilot you might want to check out Vindigo's downloadable City Guides. If you want more information why not
try theCIA World
Factbook, although it can be a little dry.
Before you go abroad, especially if you're travelling somewhat off the beaten track, it
wouldn't hurt to check the British
Foreign Office's Travel Advice.
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This page was last updated on 10/21/01.