Finding really useful travel sites can be harder than looking for a needle in a haystack. Here are some sites that focus on one aspect of travel and do it superbly.
Golfcourse.com gives travelers economical options. The site includes about 2,000 places to play in the United States and Canada. What makes it special is the inclusion of public and military courses in addition to the usual private and resort courses.
Get a wide variety of opinions on cruise lines and cruise travel at www.cruiseopinion.com. The site posts subjective opinions on ships, itineraries, day trips, cruise cuisine, and more, written by travelers under no influence from cruise lines or advertising dollars.
Skiers can get the updated scoop at www.skinet.com, a virtual encyclopedia of ski information produced through the collaborative effort of three ski magazines. It covers the U.S. and Canada in winter months, then turns its attention to Southern Hemisphere ski spots during our summer.
Many sites offer currency conversion, but do you really want to go online when your dinner check arrives in Berlin? Go to www.oanda.com/convert/cheatsheet to print out wallet-size conversion tables you can refer to as you travel.
A cybercafe search engine at www.cybercaptive.com helps you find almost 5,000 places worldwide where you can access the Internet. Search by city, state, or country. Many of the listings have links to individual cybercafe home pages, where you can get rates and directions to the location.
Make sure you can use your laptop while traveling internationally by visiting www.roadwarrior.com. It lists modem, phone, and/or power adapters needed in countries throughout the world. Go to www.roadnews.com for a similar service, plus airline-by-airline rundowns of laptop connections.
Bypass professed travel guide experts for the real experts -- the locals -- at www.localsintheknow.com. Click on a map to zero in on a location and read travel advice from the people who live there. If you have specific question, use the "e-mail a local" service.
Randmcnally.com includes information on destinations around the United States. You can plot the entire route of an upcoming trip with maps and directions, adding in lodging and visits to local attractions along the way. Save your itinerary and retrieve it when you need to make changes. Weather and reports on current road conditions and road construction projects can make the difference between a trouble-free trip and a road trip nightmare.
A new Web site links you to the official tourism bureaus for every U.S. state and territory. The portal site, at www.tourstates.com, lets you access individual sites either from clicking on the home page map or via the menu at the bottom of the home page.
Driven Image (www.drivenimage.com) has put together a worldwide affiliation and central reservation system showcasing more than 250 luxury car models. The site also claims discounts averaging 15%, compared to direct sources. Driven Image has affiliates in France, Switzerland, New Zealand, Canada, England, Spain, and throughout the United States.
Find out what's going on in 21 cities on six continents at www.whatsonwhen.com. Such a site is only as good as its updates, and this one is doing a pretty good job. And if you're looking for cultural events in the U.S, 350,000 of them are listed at www.culturefinder.com.
Bestfares.com is designed to save travelers time and money. The one-stop travel resource site tracks the latest specials, posting hundreds of deals every day. It covers domestic and international airfares, frequent flyer bonuses, business travel, vacation packages, cruises, lodging, car rentals, rail travel, and more. Most deals are available to the general public. Specially negotiated discounts exclusive to Bestfares.com members offer savings of as much as 70%.