TRAVEL with pat and lew

internet research: expedia and google

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 22, 2007

The internet is our constant travel companion. We could not do what we do without it. Many of our friends, particularly seniors, tell us they are not as facile on the web as we are.

So learn. It’s trial and error, and repetition. Ask your grandchildren. It will be a bonding experience.

Here’s just a few of the things you’ll want to do …

weather  We regularly check the weather forecasts where we are and where we’re going. If you use a designable home page (we use My Yahoo), you can include the weather for all of your currently important locations, changing locations as your upcoming destinations change.

reservations  We make almost all air, hotel, and car rental reservations via the internet. We use the individual company sites and we also use discount travel sites, usually Expedia. If you pick one discount travel site, you’ll get used to it and be able to make reservations easily. Even then, it takes time. We frequently cross check before finalizing a booking.

TIP: It is very important to check cancellation policies before you book.

There is usually a penalty, sometimes a steep penalty, if you change air reservations. There is no penalty for canceling car rentals. Most hotels have a cancellation policy that changes by date. If you cancel, say, five days before, there is no penalty, but within five days, you may have to pay the first night’s charge. Ask, and pay attention.

destination research  We still buy guidebooks, but less than we did before the internet. You can learn almost anything about anyplace on the internet. We use Google. Enter the destination as specifically as you can. You’ll get more references than you want.

The first several listings pay Google to be up front. Sometimes they’re the ones you want, but often not. If you’re looking for a hotel, try to find the hotel’s own site, not the booking agent. The real site has much more information.

TIP: Always check the customer reviews, which can be very illuminating, either positive or negative; you never get the negative from the hotel itself or a booking agent.

look up events   When we wanted to see the Tour de France, it didn’t take long to get the route map and pick the closest location to Collioure, which was Carcassonne. We learned the route through town and the race schedule. Switching to the rail schedule site, we picked our train.

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