A Baby Boomer Vacation-The WWW Way

Gotta get away? Plan your trip with the Web!

I think I’m going to Katmandu,
That’s really, really where I’m going to.
If I ever get out of here,
That’s what I’m gonna do.
I think that’s where I’m going to.
If I ever get out of here,
I’m going to Katmandu.

–Bob Seegar (1975)

Katmandu, Prague, Tokyo, New York, San Fransisco. We all get that itch from time to time. We gotta get away! So what do we do? We go on vacation. As some of you may know, if you have looked into my old posts (click the Previous Posts link in the main menu to see them), I will tell you what we baby boomers used to do. We went down to the gas station and got a set of maps and started to plan our route. Then we called around until we found the right hotels. Maybe we called a travel agent, who had access to lots more information than we did. Or maybe we headed strait down to the AAA and got maps, Tourbooks, and maybe we asked for a Triptik. Some of you younger folk may be visiting and scratching your heads now (what’s a Triptik? A Tourbook?). Well…

A Triptik was probably the pre-Web version of Google Maps. You went to the guy at the AAA offices and told him where you wanted to go. He got out his yellow highlighter and started marking a set of maps. He folded them up and bound them together with a plastic spiral at the top. Then he gave you the Tourbook, which listed all of the hotels in the area and things to do. Sometimes the AAA had information about road construction and they provided you with an alternate route. Of course by the time you actually left on your vacation, the road construction may have moved to the alternate route. And the AAA guy certainly didn’t know if there was going to be an accident clogging up traffic exactly when you arrived at your destination.

But now you can do it on the Web

Yeah, but I like to read a book, you say. Well, that’s great bring one along. Most of the the trusted and traditional companies, like Fodors and Zagats still exist. But they also have Web sites, which means that you don’t have to buy the book and the information is almost always up to date. Plus, you just go strait to your computer, the information is always at your fingertips. If you really want to have a “book” in your hand when you leave, just print the pages out. In addition to these companies, Lonely Planet is another great option. They have both a print book and a great Web site. Lonely Planet also includes places that are less traditional or off the beat and track a bit. That’s what they are famous for. Many young back packers love this book. You may too, or you may choose to use some of the more traditional books.

But don’t just stop at these sites, today you can get much more than some of the short professional reviews and suggestions that you find in these publications and Web sites. You can find out what others think, too. Planning a trip to, oh let’s say Prague,  but none of your neighbors have been there. I know what you’re thinking. “Well that’s a long way away, I’m not spending my time and money on something I may hate.” Well, don’t let that hold you back! There are now sites on the World Wide Web that are “written” by the people that use it. When someone goes on a trip,  they can come to one of these sites and write about the trip. Two sites like this are DOPPLR and TripAdvisor. I especially like TripAdvisor because it has lots of information. Don’t know where to stay? They will list the top rated hotels in the city you want. The reviews are by people who actually stayed there. You will find things to do, places to stay, and restaurants. All reviewed by people who have been there. I don’t really travel much, but when I planned my trip to Prague, I used Fodors and TripAdvisor a lot. Fodors because I still think the traditional media will really find the important places and if you have limited time, you want to start there. After that, I looked stuff up on Trip Adviser and found a lot of great advice and made some some minor changes to our itinerary. We had a great time in Prague. But what I didn’t do was to make all of my reservations online.

Book ‘Em Yourself

That’s right you can book planes, trains, and automobiles on the Web. No, I’m not talking about an old movie. I am talking about sites that let you make plane reservations, hotel reservations and car rentals online. Just show up at the gate, lobby, or rental counter with your reservation number and credit card and away you go. Sites like Travelocity, Orbit, and Expedia let you make all kinds of reservations and plan your itinerary. Other sites, like Kayak.com will search all of these sites together to find the best price. You may also have to try the airline, hotel, and car rental sites, too because some companies are not letting these sites list them anymore. But these company sites let you make reservations online, too. All you need is a credit card or Debit card.

 Anything Special for us Boomers?

Well, yes of course. First of all, as usual, you can always use Google (or Bing or Yahoo or whatever search you like) to look for baby boomer trip ideas. Just type in stuff like “baby boomer trips” or baby boomer vacation.” You can figure out other words to use after baby boomer, too. Or change “baby boomer” to “adult,” “boomer,” or “older” or similar words. I found a site called grandparents.com with an article for 7 Trip Ideas for Baby Boomers. This is a great resource even though all of us baby boomers are not grandparents, yet.

Use sites like TripAdvisor. These sites break things into categories to make it easy to find the type of trip you’re looking for. They even have awards for many “best of” categories. But best of all is to browse the forums and look at the hotel recommendations. There you will find others like yourself that will give a recommendation. Look for recommendations that say this is a great place for adults or something like that.  Looking at hotel recommendation will help you know whether it is too noisy or it is just what you are looking for. Something quaint and romantic? Just look around for people who have been there and they will tell you if it is. You may want to avoid the “Family” categories because some of these places may be too kid oriented.

But maybe you do want some kid stuff! Well great, you’ll definitely find that here. For those of us that still have teens or middle schoolers around the house, browse the forums to find recommendations for places with activities for older kids. Most importantly, whatever you are looking for, you should write your recommendations in the forums when you get back from your trip. Remember the information you were looking for and write your recommendation so you can help others looking for the same information.

Well, I have rambled on enough. In a future post, I will write a “how to” guide for planning a trip. In the meantime, try some of these sites out. They’re great. It’ really a lot of fun to dive in and plan it all yourself.

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Thanks for reading.

Photo by: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Hi, My name is David Goldman and this blog is not about the World Wide Web. It will talk about that, but mostly this blog will talk about how today's technology has changed the way we go about our everyday lives. Technology, especially the World Wide Web, has changed the way we live our everyday lives. I want to empower you with the knowledge of today's technology to compete with vigor in today's world. You can click the link below to find out some more about me and this blog.

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