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Guides…Passports/Visas…Health — Travel Websites for Planning

We know you’re familiar with Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, and the rest. Here are useful travel websites for destinations, passports, visas, health, and safety that you might not know about …

There are so many, truly useful, travel websites, that any list just scratches the surface – exploration via Google uncovers more and more options. What follows is not an all-inclusive list, but rather sites that have been found to be particularly helpful, interesting and, sometimes, a bit offbeat. Conspicuously absent are the large booking engines such as Expedia, Orbitz, and Travelocity which certainly have their use, but are already quite well known. And a reminder, I do not profit from any listings made below!

DESTINATION GUIDES

frommers.com: An online version of Frommers‘ printed guidebooks. Very comprehensive and useful for both initial trip research (as in, do I want to go there?), for last minute travels when obtaining the printed version is not possible, or if you are going to just one location and don’t want to carry the larger book.

lonelyplanet.com: Similar to Frommers, Lonely Planet provides versions of their printed guidebooks online – however they are just ramping up this service so not all locations are covered in full depth.

traveldk.com: DK lets you organize and personalize your own guide online (using the resources from their DK Top 10 guidebooks). You pay a fee to download and print it, however guides from other site “members” are shared online and available to all.

timeout.com: Extensive coverage for their home base – London – with more limited information for other parts of the world. Great for identifying London restaurants as reviews are quite current.

concierge.com: CondeNast Traveler‘s magazine website with both destination guides and archived articles from the magazine itself. Good restaurant lists in each destination guide.

travelandleisure.com: Travel and Leisure‘s magazine website with archived articles from the magazine, often including articles from Food & Wine, the magazine’s sister publication.

infohub.com: Specializes in sourcing unusual travel ideas – listed by area of interest, such as food & wine, various sports, photography, etc.


PASSPORTS/VISAS

travel.stategov/passport: U.S. State Department’s site for Passport Information and Processing.

cibt.com and zvs.com are two of the largest visa processing services (there are more you can find online). The visa requirements for most countries are listed online, including downloadable visa applications for each country. Although each service hopes you will use them for processing visas (for a fee) you can also use these forms directly with a given country’s embassy. CAVEAT: Visits to some embassies for visa application are quite fast and painless, but for most they require a time consuming process. These visa services are generally worth the fees for the time saved. These services will also renew passports for you if time is of the essence.

NOTE from Harriett: Based in New York, Passport Plus has been a lifesaver more than once. While we always go there in person, they have a website as well which I’ve never used. They’re located at 20 East 49th St, 3rd Floor, and you can call 212 759 5540.

HEALTH & SAFETY

cdc.gov: The Center for Disease Control’s take on recommended vaccinations, medications, etc. for worldwide travel as well as State Department ratings on the relative safety of travel to a given area.

tripprep.com: Recommended vaccinations, embassy listings and security advisories for many countries worldwide.

insuremytrip.com: Site lets you compare policies from different carriers, as well as different options from a single carrier. TIP: Insurance makes sense for a trip where a large, often non-refundable prepayment is required such as for a cruise, house rental or boat charter.

medjetassist.com: Purchase of policies for medical evacuation from anywhere around the world.

Since there are so many websites available for travelers, we’re following this up with two more posts of other useful sites. In the meantime, please share your favorite travel websites with the rest of us.

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2 Comments
Jeff says: March 8th, 2008 at 3:49 pm

In addition to the Frommer’s main “guidebook” area, they also have a very active and helpful forum area:
http://www.frommers.com/cgi-bin/WebX
(Or click “travel talk” on the Frommer’s web site)

I’ve used these forums for trip planning on many occasions. You can ask questions of fellow travelers and see other people’s itineraries, tips, warnings, etc. Before a recent trip to China we used this forum to to find everything from a guide in Xian, to restaurant suggestions in Shanghai.

Check it out. There is a lot of good information.

The Lonely Planet also has an active forum called the thorn tree:
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/index.jspa

Note, however, that the demographic at LP a bit more skewed towards backpackers and younger travelers.

Finally, I’d also like to mention the State Dept travel advisory pages:
http://travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html

Just select your destination country and you get a wealth of helpful info–from where to get emergency health care and embassy contact info, to general background on the country and warnings about current tourist scams. It’s actually a great resource to print and stuff in your travel bag to take with you.

Thanks for the tips, Susan!

eddie back says: March 9th, 2008 at 9:34 am

I travel in Asia and when I get sick I sometimes go to Bangkok’s
Bumrungrad Hospital. http://www.bumrungrad.com

You can see Doctors within an hour or so for almost any ailment, also
Dentists. It’s a great place for a check up while traveling in SE Asia.

Hello to Harriett, Hope all is well. Rose and I are now at Kathmandu heading
back to Dhaka for our business.

Congratulations on your excellent web site full of different information.

Best Regards, Eddie

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