Ray Saitz: The Internet is the largest travel medium in the world

More than two years have passed, but if you are fully vaccinated, you can travel again. Part of the thrill of traveling is planning all the stages of the journey from getting there to places to see and stay, and the internet is probably the biggest travel resource in the world. Here are some of my usual sources of travel information, ideas, and tips.

Wikipedia is the largest source of information on everything that exists, but for anything related to travel there is Wikivoyage (https://wikitravel.org), the free travel guide. The entire site has been written by thousands of contributors and entries are constantly being edited for accuracy by other participants. In addition to searching for destinations, check out the local language phrasebooks, travel alerts, top mountain trails and destinations, and the “hidden gems.”

Before traveling, I always visited the local Canadian Automobile Association store and picked up a Tower Book. The American Automobile Association (AAA) has now entered the digital age and delivers 35 free downloadable AAA Tour Guide 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 your trip, print selected pages, and consult once you’ve arrived.

The CAA along with the AAA also offers online travel guides (https://www.aaa.com/travelguides) for many destinations around the world. They are heavy on sponsored hotels and restaurants but contain a lot of informative tips, advice and things to do and see.

You may be tempted to search for a destination on Google, but skip the main search engine and go to the wonderful Google Travel website (https://www.google.com/travel). You can book rooms, flights and car rentals, but the main attraction is the Things to Do link, where you can search for any destination from Roseneath to Tokyo. You will get a lot of interesting things to see and do and everything is shown on a Google map.

Google’s other major travel aid is the Google Maps for mobile applications and the web (https://www.google.ca/maps) on a computer. Before booking a hotel, search for it on Google Maps and use Street View for a 3D walk past the hotel and around the neighborhood. Street View could 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 phone, hold your finger in place on the map until a red pointer appears and the street view image appears. In Google Maps on a computer, drag the yellow figure to the bottom right and drop it on a location on the map.

The Google Maps for mobile app usually connects to the internet, but if you don’t have a data plan where you’re visiting, you can download a map before you go and use it offline as a guide or GPS navigation tool. Set up a free Google Account if you don’t already have one, sign in to Google Maps, click on your initials at the top right of the map, and select Offline. There are instructions 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 take only one mobile device, you have to set one thing up to avoid a possible digital nightmare. Be sure to enable a passcode that must be entered before the device can be used. Otherwise, if the device is stolen or lost, a bad person will be able to access your email, social media accounts, and possibly Amazon, PayPal, eBay or Booking.com and maliciously cancel your reservations, rolling your credit card to the limit. , or post terrible things about yourself on Facebook. Without entering the passcode, no one will be able to use the device without your permission. There are instructions for doing this on an iPad or iPhone on Apple’s website (https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204060) and for Android on the Google site (https://tinyurl.com/2p8cs9h4).

Have a nice trip!

Ray Saitz, A Peterborough resident and teacher, writes a regular column on the Internet. He can be reached at rayser3@cogeco.ca and links to helpful websites can be found at www.rayser.ca/online.

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