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[Online planning for your next holiday]
[Online planning for your next holiday]

   Gopika Vaidya

Summer vacations have graduated from road trips to Mahabaleshwar and Manali to flying visits to more exotic locales of Bali and Barbados. But with so many travel options, there's bound to be confusion.

Now, fortunately, you can do most of your homework online. So by the time you take off, you'll have a perfectly planned itinerary.

First things first: Where to go? The Lonely Planet Guide is the choice of most veteran travellers. This comprehensive Web site includes details on many international cities, towns and villages; information on health and theme holidays; and delightful travelogues. Etravel is meant for "those who expect more from travel than a swimming pool, a comfy hotel and a pink gin…

Here, you'll find country information, advice on visas, health, suitable clothing and security; and updated travel news. The 'Information' page - a collection of tips from experienced travellers - is conveniently classified into before, during and after the holiday.

If you want to confine your trip to India and Nepal, visit eHotelsIndia to search and book hotels by city, state and hotel chain. Indian Hotels Info, though limited in the destinations it covers, offers deals and lets you make online bookings for hotels in these two countries. Indian Hotel Reservations also offers a quick hotel search.

If you're planning a backpacking holiday, go through the Backpackers Ultimate Guide (BUG). It has separate sections for Australia, Europe and the Pacific. Eurotrip.com, which claims to be the No 1 backpacking site in Europe, offers Eurail passes and deals - along with a bit of advice - related to countries in the European Union. TheBackpacker.Net shares interesting details, such as the cheapest place to buy beer, incidentally in Nambia!

If you prefer the more lavish settings of a luxury liner, visit the Cruise Calendar for a list of worldwide itineraries by departure ports. Cruise Direct and Cruise2.com offer tips on finding the right cruise, and sample dress codes on board.

The Pub Club is "a rockin' worldwide nightlife guide to pubs, clubs and parties and events." It features hotspots, hip places and cool hangouts in many countries.

While travelling abroad, you have to watch out for your money and health and make yourself understood in a foreign language. My favourite currency converter, Oanda solves the first of these three problems.

The International Society of Travel Medicine and Travel Health Online feature comprehensive listings of vaccines, infections, diseases and travel clinics worldwide. Airhealth.org is devoted to a lesser known, but potentially dangerous travel disease, Economy Class Syndrome (ECS).

Go to Travlang.com for your language queries. You will find online tutorials and a rather tough quiz. The Travel Industry Dictionary includes special terms, abbreviations, acronyms, slang, and nicknames.

Those travelling in an unfamiliar country will benefit from visiting Maps.com. It offers detailed maps, driving distances and door-to-door directions. In addition, you will find wine maps, hiking and railway maps and nautical charts at Omni Map.

By now, you have got your holiday all figured out, your tickets are booked and you are all set. But there's still one niggling problem - where will you find pure vegetarian food? Fear not! Sites like Veg Dining, the Vegetarian Resource Group and HappyCow's Global Guide to Vegetarian Restaurants and Health Food Stores provide names, numbers and locations of such restaurants and health food stores around the world.

Bon voyage!

Also Read:
-- Feet and Fine: Tips for the backpacker
-- Have feet, will travel: World tours going cheap
-- Online Maps: Find your way anywhere
-- Break Free: Plan a perfect holiday online
-- Country Guides: Navigate the world
-- Travel Abroad: Six sites for the intrepid traveller
-- Indian Holidays: Eight sites for a perfect trip

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