Ray Saitz: The Internet is the world’s greatest travel resource

More than two years have passed but, if you are fully vaccinated, you can travel again. Part of the thrill of traveling is planning all the stages of your trip, from getting there to places to see and stay, and the internet is probably the world’s best travel resource. These are some of my regular sources for travel information, ideas and advice.

Wikipedia is the biggest source of information on everything there is, but for anything to do with travel, there is Wikitravel (https://wikitravel.org), the free travel guide. The entire site has been written by thousands of contributors and entries are constantly edited by other contributors for accuracy. In addition to searching for destinations, check out phrasebooks in local languages, travel alerts, top trails and mountain destinations, and “hidden gems.”

Before going on a road trip, I always visited the local Canadian Automobile Association store and bought a Tourbook Guide. The American Automobile Association (AAA) has now entered the digital age and is providing 35 free downloadable AAA Tourbook guides for destinations in North America, the Caribbean and Hawaii (https://tourbook.aaa.com). Open a Guide on your laptop or tablet, click the download button, and save it as a PDF document that you can use to plan a trip, print selected pages, and refer to once you’ve arrived.

The CAA in conjunction with the AAA is also offering online travel guides (https://www.aaa.com/guiasdeviaje) to numerous destinations around the world. They are full of sponsored hotels and restaurants, but contain many informative tips, suggestions, and things to do and see.

You might be tempted to do a Google search for a destination, but skip the main search site and go to Google’s wonderful travel site (https://www.google.com/travel). You can book rooms, flights, and rental cars, but the main attraction is the Things to Do link, where you can search for any destination from Roseneath to Tokyo. You’ll get loads of cool things to see and do and it’s all displayed on a Google map.

Google’s other great travel aid is the Google Maps mobile app and website (https://www.google.ca/maps) in a computer. Before you book a hotel, look it up on Google Maps and use Street View to take a 3D tour of the hotel and neighborhood. Street View could save you the anguish of booking a hotel in an industrial area or just steps from a four-lane highway. To use Street View on a mobile device, hold your finger on a location on the map until a red pointer and the Street View image appear. In Google Maps on a computer, drag the little yellow shape in the bottom right and drop it on a spot on the map.

The Google Maps app for mobile devices usually connects to the Internet, but if you don’t have a data plan where you’re visiting, you can download a map before you go and use it offline as a guide or GPS navigation tool. Set up a free Google account if you don’t have one, sign in to Google Maps, tap your initial at the top right of the map, and select offline. There are instructions on the Google site (https://tinyurl.com/2p852cds).

I travel with a laptop, an iPad, and an Android phone, which is probably too much, but even if you’re only carrying a mobile device, you need to set one thing up to avoid a potential digital nightmare. Be sure to enable a passcode that must be entered before the device can be used. Otherwise, if the device is lost or stolen, an evil person will be able to access your email, social media accounts and possibly Amazon, PayPal, eBay or Booking.com and maliciously cancel your reservations, run your credit card to the limit . , or post horrible things about you on Facebook. Without entering the passcode, no one will be able to use the device without your permission. There are instructions for doing this on an iPad or iPhone on Apple’s site (https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204060) and for Android on the Google site (https://tinyurl.com/2p8cs9h4).

Happy journey!

Ray Saitz, a Peterborough resident and professor, writes a regular column on the Internet. He can be contacted at rayser3@cogeco.ca and helpful website links can be found at www.rayser.ca/online.

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