Eat, sleep and stay healthy
What’s in a name?
When it comes to Web sites for booking accommodations, monikers can be misleading. For example, Hotels.ca quotes hotel rates in Canadian dollars, yet it’s global in scope. Similarly, CheapAccommodation.com offers more than stripped-down dives. Click on Fantasy Nights for unique lodgings like lighthouses, castles, and luxury tent lodges.
Been there, done that
Before booking, head to TripAdvisor.com for a second (or 22nd) opinion. This site directs you to articles relating to hotels, attractions and destinations. The real gems, though, are the user reviews. Writers often ramble ? you may hear more than you want to about Frank from Fredericton’s Vegas vacation ? but they are unfailingly honest.
Look homeward, angel
Savvy travelers often choose to rent homes or apartments rather than stay in hotel rooms. Start your own house hunting at Holiday-Rentals.com. Reasonable prices, in-depth descriptions and great selection (9,500 properties in 50 countries) set this site apart from rivals. You can search by date, place and price or use other options to check for features such as proximity to ski hills or wheelchair accessibility.
Food aficionados can peruse upscale restaurant reviews from Bon Appétit and Gourmet magazines at Epicurious.com. Those with eclectic tastes may prefer ChowHound.com, where message boards span topics ranging from street food in Thailand to perfect pizzas in Italy.
When dinner doesn’t agree with you, it’s TheBathroomDiaries.com to the rescue. Loo lovers dish the dirt on over 6,000 public restrooms from Australia to Zimbabwe and award Gold Plungers to their favorites. (The 2003 prize went to a lavish loo in Branson, Missouri’s Shoji Tabuchi Theatre.) If you’re certifiably sick, you’ll be better served at IAMAT.org. The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers’ directory gives access to physicians in 125 countries.
For emergency aid, log on to Voyage.gc.ca, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Web site. Aside from up-to-date reports on travel conditions in other countries, it contains listings for 270 cities around the world where you can obtain consular assistance, plus an SOS form that lets you contact the department’s Operations Centre.
From the February/March 2005 issue.