An Untangled Web
From the Sunday Times article 27 December 1998, written by Mark Hodson. I used this as a starting point, back before they ever had a web site. Updated from their latest version, by Gareth Scurlock.
NEW ADDITIONS (May 31)
Use your mobile phone to take a picture and send a postcard of the picture so if (like me) you rarely find time when away to buy, write and post cards you can - and send a personalised picture to boot. Simply send picture with text to the alloted number and they do the rest - printing and posting first class in the UK.
An excellent free service whereby you can send a text message to a dedicated number and that message is distributed to lists of e-mail addresses, so you can stay in touch with groups of friends and family for the price of one message rather than having to pay for an internet cafe.
There are now lots of companies offering this service but this is the first we discovered. These simcards allow you to make cheaper calls while abroad. Simply replace the UK network sim while you away and save a fortune on calls that are charged at up to £2-a-minute by UK providers.
An independent site that logs complaints and problems with travel companies, from hire cars to timeshares, and has advice on things like insurance and legal issues.
One of the original flight comparison and holiday offer sites, Cheapflights has a useful news section listing routes and sale offers for low-cost airlines.
Similar to www.wayn.com, this allows you to contact people travelling in the same part of the world as you. Find a travelling companion or share stories online. Also valuable advice on safety and other gap year issues.
Another site sharing information on destinations around the world contributed by users. Nice design and community feel.
The latest official travel advice. An essential first port of call to stay safe around the world and check that your insurance will be valid. Links to the Department of Health for information on vaccinations.
Satellite imagery allows users to zoom in on streets in photographic quality. Check if your hotel or villa really is a stones throw from the beach. Links to search listings for restaurants, bars, hotels and much more.
A Marine Conservation Society site with in-depth information on recommended beaches. Easy to use with interactive maps and plenty of advice.
View travel brochures from agents in PDF format, and avoid waiting for the post.
The Association of British Travel Agents site has information and links to bonded members for peace of mind when booking online.
Exhaustive global events guide that covers just about all conceivable forms of entertainment, from opera in Italy and major European rock festivals to the tiny and obscure.
Colourful website dedicated to fiestas worldwide. Vote and have your say in its first party guidebook due for publication in January 2007, then check out other useful information and the world music section.
A useful resource aimed at providing information about destinations for travel agents. Get an overview on a wide range of countries and regions, as well as essential information such as vaccination requirements.
This established restaurant review, search and booking website (excellent for UK listings) has expanded to include restaurants in Dublin, Paris, Barcelona and New York. Book online, then hop on a plane or train to dine in style.
This is the address for Babel fish, a useful translation tool, so you can surf sites in other languages. Book tickets for events at your destination or get local information.
News from around the world find out whats happening in destinations you are thinking of visiting. Plus links to travel websites.
My personal favourite of the weather sites. Check 48-hour forecasts for any destination in Europe. But the real winner is a 14-day forecast for postcode locations in the UK split into three-hour blocks.
BEST FOR HOLIDAYS
Cherry-picks the best of the bargains online. Uninspiring design, but its great for bargain hunters who can sign up for a weekly e-mail of Top 20 deals.
The best comparison site for everything from car hire to flights. Particularly strong on insurance and has recently added package holidays.
US-orientated, but look and see the future for UK websites selling late rooms and flights. Basically, this site teaches you to bid for deals on sites such as priceline.com and hotwire.com. Required reading.
For obsessive bargain hunters. Bidding for a holiday online sounds a risky business, but if youre careful, you can save a packet. Companies sell off last-minute stock and individuals sell flights they cannot use.
Budget breaks to more unusual locations than the standard city breaks or package destinations.
Book the seat you prefer after consulting this site, which has seating plans of most of the worlds major airlines.
Brilliantly quick new flight comparison site that includes major airlines, their prices and destinations around the world.
This site scours the websites of 13 of the most popular low-cost airlines to find the cheapest deal, whenever it is. Searches are in real time rather than cached, but the service costs £25 a year.
Searches Europes budget airlines for the best deals and times to travel on any route. It uses cached, rather than live, results, however, and the design isnt as user-friendly as ufly4less.
Searches budget airlines and tells you when to fly to get the best prices. Also has advice on getting cheaper package holidays and changing currency.
Useful resource that began with information on which low-cost airlines fly where in Europe. It has since expanded to include short-haul bargains around the world, from Asia and Australasia to the US and South Africa.
As much as anyone is able to keep up with new low-cost routes, this site is the original and best at keeping on top of the game in the frantically changing who-flies-where market.
Surveys on and reviews of airlines around the world.
Searchable charter flights, along with some huge last-minute reductions.
More information than you could ever need on flight statistics, but there are some disgruntled passengers and data demons who obviously appreciate this site.
Hard to beat for long-haul bargain flights, Airline Network has all major airline offers and an e-mail newsletter that will make you want to drop everything and fly.
Flymycase is a courier delivery service that forwards your luggage from your home to your arrival address so you dont have to lug it to and from the airport, worry about it turning up on the carousel or pay such high excess-baggage charges.
Airport Parking and Hotels (APH) is a commercial site, but gets the nod for its excellent compilation of free information about excess-baggage charges. From the link above, scroll down for the PDF table that offers detailed information on charges for 22 major airlines.
An exhaustive database of travel information that has a free trial service before subscription (£99 a year). Frequent travellers would no doubt benefit from the interactive CD information and real-time flight details, but there is plenty on offer on the site without having to log in.
ROAD, RAIL, FERRY
Travel comfortably by train or ship with this enthusiasts guide, including a worldwide journey planner.
Use multiple transport on the same trip. You can search by public transport or car routes from door to door. Useful live-travel news feed.
The best of the online route planners gets you from door to door the quickest way with interactive maps of Europe, some former Soviet states, Turkey and the US.
Book short breaks and search for holidays by car. Dynamic packaging allows users to compare deals with different ferry operators.
Simple website allowing you to book train journeys in Britain, continental Europe and regions around the world.
HOT PLACES TO STAY
If you are looking for a stylish hideaway you wont find a better site than this. Youll want to book immediately.
Much more than a standard booking service. This online hotel site has a large archive from 120 writers, who have reviewed about half of the 3,500 hotels featured.
A recent addition to the luxury travel market, this portal should be popular with those with money to burn and who need inspiration, but may be short of time to search for individual hotels or companies.
Lovely site listing, and an agent for hotels of distinction in Wales, with selections and ratings in association with the Wales Tourist Board.
Daunted by Japan? This English-language site has 500 ryokans (inns) all over the country, is easy to use and hugely reassuring.
Beautiful rural and unusual bolt holes in excellent locations in Spain, all run by the government tourist board and most converted from grand old properties.
If you want to find a great Spanish country hotel, look here. There are now more than 160 hotels listed (with a handful in France, Portugal and Argentina). Well presented and all hotels can be booked online.
Another superb site with magnificent places to stay in Spain, and more jewels in Italy and Portugal.
Voted the best travel website by Web User magazine in 2005, it has 6,000 properties of every size with instant booking confirmation the big bonus.
Like i-escapes.com (but nowhere near as good- looking). A fun site to visit if youre looking for a boutique hotel or villa.
Collection of organic farms, B&Bs and hotels that has grown to cover Europe as well as Turkey and Morocco.
The number of attractive photos and useful country and event guides is quite an achievement for a site that provides accommodation. The hotel information pages are very in-depth, again with good pictures as well as ratings.
Lyth Hill House B&B won Visit Englands Tourism website of the year award in 2005. Despite being a small business, it has made an effort to provide extra information and pictures of rooms, the grounds and facilities. You can see multiple views of each room, and there is even a floor-plan PDF option.
This attractive site acts as a portal to a group of websites based in 14 European countries, each featuring special places to stay.
Excellent independent travel website. Sign up and find people to stay with around the world, or host them where you live.
Fabulous resource for hostels worldwide that are bookable online. Finding bargain accommodation in advance, even in off-the-beaten-track locations, has never been so easy.
The name says it all. A simple, yet useful, guide to low-cost hotel rooms across Europe that has moved into holiday packages with charter flights driving the costs down.
A basic hotel price- comparison site. The roster of last-minute hotel providers that it searches is impressive, so it should save time when trying to find the best price.
Thousands of options for cheap hostels and hotels at destinations around the world.
Formerly Medhotels.com, this site was bought by Lastminute and revamped to look like the Holiday Autos website. Simple idea cheap Mediterranean hotels of the type used for package holidays . . . if thats what you want.
A great idea for saving money by booking online. Roomauction.com is a portfolio of hotels around the UK open to offers. A fun alternative to phoning and haggling or surfing the many online travel websites.
A source for booking more than 10,000 holiday properties, from villas with pools to chalets in ski resorts.
Lists hotels by location with dates weeks in advance, showing last-minute rates regularly updated with up to 70 per cent off.
Great value options with plenty of reader reviews to back up your choice.
User reviews of hotels, but watch out for spammers many of these sites suffer from contributors who praise their own hotel or criticise a rival.
New site dedicated to the 15 designated National Trails in England and Wales, with photographs and excellent interactive route maps.
Information and booking facilities for all kinds of activities from orienteering to model plane flying.
Snow reports, resort information and much more from this resource for skiers and snowboarders by the Ski Club of Great Britain.
Chalet deals, resort information, snow reports, kit offers and latest news. Excellent for last-minute deals.
Activites in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, from kayaking to surfing, and including coasteering.
News, views, resort guides, events features all a boarders needs covered.
INDIE, ADVENTURE AND GREEN
Excellent resource for pairing up people who are travelling on their own and want some company. Post a profile if you dont want to go it alone.
Exhaustive guide to gap-year travel. Advice, features and a range of options to help with that big trip.
Formed in 1988 to promote the concept and benefits of well-structured year-out programmes, this not-for- profit organisation will help you to choose the right volunteer project.
Want to go green? Find out all you need to know about eco-tourism and book your trip here.
Busy trying to be a green traveller, but concerned by the amount of air travel to get to those eco-destinations? You can donate money which is given to projects that reduce emissions to offset the effects of your trip.
Useful tips from independent travellers. A free resource for those going it alone.
Beautifully designed website with thrilling itineraries that can be reserved online from week-long explorations of wild spots to longer jaunts through entire continents.
Guide to independent travel with useful information on destinations, and plenty of forum and community action.
A youth site with a section on travel, including keeping documentation secure, researching your destination, and legal and financial advice.
Advice on all aspects of travelling for young people, plus online legal insurance.
Brilliant site hosting blogs for travellers free of charge. Use it to create your own site and post pictures as well as text. Every country is covered through interactive maps.
Calling itself the original travel blog website, this is a well-presented alternative.
Where Are You Now takes the online community ideas of Friends Reunited and My Space and adds the travel aspect: meet people who live near you or will be in places you intend to travel to.
Excellent travel guide written by a keen alternative traveller, with lots of sections, from world festivals to exotic sites.
Relay or read a hotel review and then book if the price is right.
A travel Google based on user contributions, this search engine has 350,000 members.
Mammoth website by everybodys favourite traveller, detailing all his adventures.
ESSENTIALS AND IDEAS
Attractive online magazine promoting sustainable tourism. Register to join and submit travel diaries.
Nicely presented website with pages on each region of France. Guides to each département detail highlights and include photographs.
Calling itself the decadent travel guide, this funky site pinpoints stylish entertainment and travel around the world.
Buy online from the UKs best- known map and travel bookshop.
Website of the London listings magazine that includes potted online city guides and events.
New website with podcast guides to parts of Britain. Download a guide by postcode.
Barcelona-based site with inside information on the city, plus suggestions for making the most of your time there.
Excellent maps and free introductory travel guides from the guidebook publisher.
Marketed as the travel Google, this site provides listings of travel websites based on keyword searches.
Well-researched guides to Lisbon, Tallinn, Prague, Madrid, Marrakesh, Stockholm, Beirut, Miami, Moscow, Berlin, Istanbul and Milan.
Welcome to Monravia. Spoof travel guides about imaginary places, as nicely designed as the main online guidebooks.
Robert Young Pelton is your guide to the most dangerous destinations. Some interesting information and plenty of disclaimers.
Interesting design with fantastic pictures, navigable by dots on the page. Worth a surf for the design alone.
Bright new site with information on Britain, from places to stay to transport and events.
Top Travel Websites
- Microsoft Expedia: fares and availability
- Travelocity: cheap flights via SABRE booking system
(Early) 2006 list
- flyertalk air miles
- BreezeNet.com car rental from airports
- concierge.com Conde Nast Traveller online, lists
- kayak budget airlines
- MyTripJournal.com blogs
- Site59 last minute weekend getaways
- www.vijaydandapani.com NY hotel blog
- IgoUgo blogs
Other top travel sites:
- Mapquest: city maps worldwide
- United Airlines
- Asia Travel: hotel and resort booking
- Amtrak: American trains booking and route planning
- Northwest Airlines
- American Airlines
Where to Start
The first list is of sites you can use to buy flights and holidays:
The ST comments that most hotels only advertise their full rack rates on the web. It's often best to email them direct and ask for best discounted or corporate rates. Find hotels by searching with their name in Yahoo! or AltaVista. (That was old advice: try Google)
Looking for Ideas
- Sunday Times - travel section
- City Search USA and Australia
- Rough Guides
- Tourism Offices Worldwide Directory
- Unesco: 522 World Heritage sites
Planning a Trip
- American State Department:US travel advisories
- Travel Health Online
- O & A Converter: exchange rates
- Visa ATMs Where to find the hole in the wall!
- Mastercard ATMs
- amazon.co.uk Guide books
- QuickAID airport information
- TravLang: different countries road signs
- Dan Youra's Ferry Page: ferry timetables
- Travel Select: to book Eurostar tickets
- Network Rail: UK rail timetables
- Rain or Shine: 5 day forecast for 800 cities
- CNN: 4 day forecast for 8,100 cities
- Met Office
- Intellicast: storm warnings USA and Caribbean
- The Alps
- Complete Skier/ifyouski.com
- Topin.ch (Deutsch)
- 1ski.com: ski holidays