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Precautions for Using the Internet for Travel Help
By Patricia Yevics
Director, Law Office Management
Maryland State Bar Association, Inc.
And Away We Go!!!!
It is never too early to get ready for your upcoming vacations.
I use the internet quite extensively when planning my vacations and travel plans. There are some precautions I would recommend.
1. I book most of my transportation on-line. I start with Travelocity but may then go directly to an airline site for bonus miles. Also some airlines (Southwest Air for one) do not come up on Travelocity so it helps to shop. In addition some of the airline sights will allow you to pre-book your seat on their site. This is not always the case but it is more likely to be available at the airline site.
In most cases I simply get an electronic ticket. There are exceptions. I would ask for a paper ticket (even it costs more) if you are travelling to a foreign country or you are concerned about airline labor troubles. It is simply easier to rearrange travel plans with a paper ticket. For most domestic flights I just get an electronic ticket and have never had a problem.
2. Print all confirmations and put them in a folder and take everything with you on your vacation. It can save a lot of aggravation.
3. Although I do comparison shopping on-line for hotels, when possible I try to contact the hotel directly when I want to finally make my reservation. This is not always the cheapest method. We were recently planning our vacation for this year and we saw a good rate at one of the hotels where we wanted to stay. I decided to contact the hotel directly and the cost was dramatically higher. When I told the reservation clerk about the difference, she indicated she knew and that we should book on-line and so we did. The caveat was that we paid for two nights as soon as we booked it and if we want to cancel there would be a $50.00 penalty. So again you need to decide what is important.
Last year when we went to Paris, we booked every aspect of the trip on-line. We were even able to see pictures of our apartment and the view outside our window. We booked our flight, apartment and transportation to and from the hotel. We had no problems at all.
4. If you have complicated set of requirements, then it is critical to make arrangements over the phone or use a travel agent. The internet is great for many aspects of commerce but customer service is not one of them.
Just in case you are wondering, this year we are going to the Southwest. We are starting in Las Vegas and going to Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon and ending up in Las Vegas. So far we have booked everything but the horseback ride into Bryce Canyon on-line.
Having said that, here are some unusual sites that might prove helpful. These are not your usual sites but I have used them and they are interesting.
http://www.roadnews.com Tips and tricks for the computer equipped traveler. This is very helpful if you are planning to travel with your computer.
http://www.companimalz.com Tips for traveling for with your pets.
http://www.roadsideamerica.com/ Great site for unusual sites throughout the US
http://www.thebathroomdiaries.com/ The best free bathrooms anywhere in the world
http://www.itcheque.com/carryon.html Carry on requirements for airlines
http://www.doctor-travel.com/jetlag.html Tips for dealing with Jet Lag
http://www.zagat.com Tips on restaurants all over the world
http://www.roadfood.com Great if you are driving this year. Reviews of restaurants on the US Highways. I went to the site and one of the restaurants was on the way to my mother's. I have eaten there and there review was pretty accurate. (Go figure!)
http://www.gaspricewatch.com Again helpful if you are driving and want to find the best gas prices along the way.
http://www.nps.org This is the National Park Service which lists all National Parks in the country.
http://www.runtheplanet.com A list of great places to run in 1236 cities all over the world. I use is it regularly when I go to a new city.