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Great advice for travelers, by travelers

February 04, 2007|James Gilden | Special to The Times

THERE are hundreds of useful websites for travelers. By limiting this list to just 10, I am certain to get letters from angry website proprietors for not including them. So allow me to apologize in advance, but the editors allowed me only 10. My choices are based solely on how useful they have been to me in planning my travels or how helpful I think they may be to other travelers. They are websites designed to provide travelers with advice, guidance or inspiration.

1. The Bathroom Diaries

The importance of having a clean, well-lighted public toilet handy when traveling cannot be overstated. This website has reviews and maps of toilets worldwide that you can print out and take with you.

2. Bidding for Travel

If you are serious about saving money on Priceline, this is a must-visit site. Bidding for Travel is an active website, with users contributing and offering hints and tips on bidding and members reporting on winning bids -- useful information if you are planning to bid on a hotel in the same area. It's guided me to at least one terrific deal -- a four-star hotel in London for $105 per night.

3. Couch Surfing

Couch Surfing has nearly 160,000 members around the globe who are looking to "couch surf" (sleep for free on a couch) or who are offering up their sofas to travelers willing to do some chores or provide company in exchange for a place to flop for the night.

4. Cruise Critic

Cruise Critic is an interactive community of cruise ship passengers who help one another plan cruises. Boasting 160,000 members, the site has professional and reader reviews of cruises, as well as news and deals. It's a must-visit for first-time and seasoned cruisers.

5. Flyer Talk

Flyer Talk is an active community of frequent travelers whose collective real-life knowledge of the ins and outs of travel and airline frequent flier programs is current and encyclopedic. No matter what program you belong to, you can find the latest tips and bonus opportunities here, as well as forums to air travel grievances.

6. Johnny Jet

Johnny Jet is a comprehensive collection of travel websites, well indexed and categorized. Whether you are looking for sites about travel with children, seniors, pets or groups or trying to find ATMs, hotels or buses, Johnny Jet has links to the resources.

7. Idealist is the website of the nonprofit group Action Without Borders, which helps connect "people, organizations and resources to help build a world where all people can live free and dignified lives." Here, you will find volunteer opportunities to help transform in some small way the place you visit.

8. One Bag

One Bag is dedicated to the idea that traveling light is traveling right. It is filled with practical advice for how to travel just about anywhere with only one bag, including what kind of bag to buy and how and what to pack.

9. The Man in Seat 61

The Man in Seat 61 is useful if you are planning a train trip in Europe. It is filled with practical advice for navigating Europe and other parts of the world by train.

10. My Travel Rights

This is website of the Consumer Travel Rights Center and the place to go when things go bad and you cannot get satisfaction from the travel service. It's co-edited by travel lawyer and author Alexander Anolik and provides detailed, plain-language explanations of your legal rights.

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