It’s over two years ago, but if you’ve been fully vaccinated, you can travel again. Part of the thrill of traveling is planning all the stages of the journey from arrival to places to see and stay, and the internet is probably the largest travel resource in the world. Here are a few of my usual sources for travel information, ideas and tips.
Wikipedia is the largest source of information on everything that exists, but for everything that has to do with travel, there is Wikitravel (https://wikitravel.org), the free travel guide. The entire site is written by thousands of contributors, and contributions are constantly being edited for accuracy by other contributors. In addition to searching for destinations, check out the phrasebooks in local languages, travel alerts, top mountain trails and destinations and the “hidden gems”.
Before embarking on a road trip, I always visited the local Canadian Automobile Association store and picked up a Tourbook Guide. The American Automobile Association (AAA) has now entered the digital age and provides 35 free downloadable AAA Tourbook Guides to 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 consult when you arrive.
In connection with AAA, CAA also offers online travel guides (https://www.aaa.com/travelguides) to several destinations around the world. They are heavy on sponsored hotels and restaurants, but contain a lot of informative advice, tips and things to do and see.
You may be tempted to search for a destination on Google, but skip the main search page and go to the amazing Google Travel website (https://www.google.com/travel). You can book rooms, flights and car hire, but the main attraction is the Things to Do link, where you can search for any destination from Roseneath to Tokyo. You get lots of interesting things to see and do, and everything is displayed on a Google map.
Google’s other great travel aid is the Google Maps app for mobile devices and the website (https://www.google.ca/maps) on a computer. Before booking a hotel, search for it on Google Maps and use Street View to take a 3D tour past the hotel and around the neighborhood. Street View can save you the hassle of booking a hotel in an industrial area or steps from a four-lane highway. To use Street View on a mobile device, hold your finger somewhere on the map until a red cursor appears and the street view image is displayed. In Google Maps on a computer, drag the little yellow figure at the bottom right and drop it somewhere on the map.
The Google Maps mobile app usually connects to the Internet, but if you do not have a data plan to visit, you can download a map before you go and use it offline as a guide or GPS navigation tool. Create a free Google Account if you do not have one, sign in to Google Maps, tap your first letter at the top right of the map and select offline. Instructions are available on the Google website (https://tinyurl.com/2p852cds).
I travel with a laptop, iPad and Android phone, which is probably too much, but even if you only take one mobile device, you need to configure one thing to avoid a potential digital nightmare. Be sure to enable a password that must be entered before the device can be used. Otherwise, if the device is stolen or lost, a malicious person will gain access to your email, social media accounts and possibly Amazon, PayPal, eBay or Booking.com and maliciously cancel your reservations, run your credit card to the extreme, or post horrible things about you on Facebook. Without entering the password, no one will be able to use the device without your permission. There are instructions for doing this on an iPad or iPhone on the Apple website (https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204060) and for Android on the Google website (https://tinyurl.com/2p8cs9h4 ).