Thursday, March 27, 2008

Using the web for travel planning

In a few months time I am off on a trip overseas, so I thought I would do some research on the web of places to visit. Google Maps is useful for finding your way around cities, but less useful for small villages. I found that in a city it would identify down to individual buildings, but outside the city there were large blanks. Looking up online news stories is also useful for finding out what is of interest. One surprise I had was finding a story about guerrillas killing four people and shooting up the town hall of where I was planning to visit. This was worrying, until I noticed the news item was from 1947 (the newspaper had put its archives online).

One frustration is that mapping services tend to be for people in cars, not pedestrians and public transport users. Also smaller venues have less than useful web sites. You may get a short description and a blurry scanned map, but no way to book online and it can be difficult to find the contact details. While airlines have web based timetables and booking, railways still tend to give you a hard to follow timetable and then an off-line booking system.

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