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Travel Tips on the Web: Sites

General Travel Tips

The Independent Traveler
Find all kinds of travel tips for planes, trains, and automobiles. In addition to offering travel deals and message boards on which to chat with other sojourners, the site features traveling advice in a section called Travel Resources [] with articles such as "How to Find a Clean Hotel Room" and "Top 10 Reasons to Travel by Train." A subset of this section features a biweekly column called Travelers Ed written by veteran globetrotter Ed Hewett. Hewett discusses the implications of recent travel news and offers advice on how to cope with it.
Smarter Travel Tip of the Day
Get ideas about how to smooth your travel by browsing these tips that answer questions like "When is it cheaper to drive than fly?" and rules of thumb for avoiding those dreaded added flight fees.
National Geographic Traveler's Christopher Elliott, the "Travel Troubleshooter," explains modern travel problems and how to solve them.
Seat 2B
Joe Brancatelli, Conde Nast's business travel writer, offers tips and insights gleaned from his bitter experiences.

Air Travel

FlightStats dishes up all sorts of handy real-time flight information and delivers it in the most modern ways: on the site, through RSS feeds, with gadgets, widgets, and tool bar plugins, and cell phones--all for free. Search between destinations to see what flights are available and if there are any seats left. You won't get price information, but you will get historical on-time flight ratings. Track flights and get info on airports delays. See airport maps with weather radar overlays and real-time Google traffic information. Its flight tracker gives gate information and even lets you know when a flight has pushed off from its gate but not yet taken off. The flight-tracking application features weather overlays and cycles between four views: text positional information and three levels of zoom. Visit this site before you fly anywhere or get it on your web-enabled phone at the airport:
Travelers may be asked to choose a seat for their flight. Discover the pluses and minuses of your selection with this site from It will even tell you if your seat will have a plug for your laptop. To research on the run, type this URL into your web-enabled phone browser or PDA:
TSA: For Travelers
The TSA website tries to make its screening procedures less onerous by offering tips about what to expect when you get to the airport. Find out how much shampoo you can have with you, understand why you can't bring your snow globe in your carry-on, and learn what to do if you have to bring along prescription medicines. There are short videos on the site to illustrate these points.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Wait Times
How long will it take you to get back into your own country after you return from abroad? Check here to find average wait times for northern and southern border crossings and at customs inspection points at major U.S. airports.
Airline Contact Information
Use this site to find the phone number and website of your airline. Usually, the airline website will have a way to set up flight notification updates for transmission to your email or cell phone.

Who can conduct life without the hourly and 10-day forecasts from the Weather Channel? What's essential on the web is even better on a phone! Point your mobile phone browser to Enter the ZIP code of your desired forecast area. You will get detailed prognostications as well as the cutest little radar and satellite weather maps. Better still, the mobile site also links to airport status and area traffic maps.
Weather Underground
What is the only weather service that dares to reveal the atmospheric conditions in Cuba? Why, it's this site, the oldest weather forecaster on the internet. Weather Underground has lots of cool features, including satellite images with interactive overlays, lots of webcams, and historical weather information. Get forecasts on your web-enabled cell phone with this URL:
Geostationary Satellite Server: GOES
Fancy commercial forecast services are fine. But what if you want to see the big picture with your own eyes? Get the view from space with this service from NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Choose infrared, visible light, and water vapor views of the East or West Coast of the continental U.S., Puerto Rico, Hawaii, or Alaska. Watch animations of the latest weather movements. Want to pull even farther out? Go to the menu bar on the left side of the page and choose GOES Full Disk. You'll see the weather half a globe at a time.

Flight Trackers

Search by exact flight or browse among those between chosen airports to see the tiny plane inching to its destination along a line on a map.
Flight Aware
Track flights by known airline and flight number, or see what particular types of planes are in the air right now, e.g., Boeing 737. You can browse by airport or airline. This site focuses on overall air activity as well as tracking specific flights.

Other Useful Links

You've got to return that rental car with a full tank of gas. See who sells gas for less with maps on this site. Don't have your laptop turned on? Get the lowest gas prices in a given area code or city by visiting on your web-enabled cell phone. There are also instructions on the website for getting tips via text message.
Walk Score
To really go green and healthy, skip vehicles altogether and simply hoof it! Seattle's Mike Mathieu mashed census data with the Google API to display services within a given radius in the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain. Type in your address to find restaurants and bodegas in walking distance of your neighborhood.
Say that you arrive in an unfamiliar city and want to find a business or restaurant. Do you need a map or a computer with a web connection? Nope, just a phone. Dial 1-800-GOOG-411 (1-800-466-4411). A voice will ask you where you are and what you are looking for. "Pizza," you respond. Google will read a list of pizzerias in your area. Choose the one you want, and Google will put a call through to them free of charge. You can say "text message" to have business contact information sent to your cell phone via SMS. Is that cool or what? Type that phone number into your lists of contacts right now!

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Last updated January 22, 2013