Travel Writer 
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Internet Travel 

By Margaret Piton

The promise of the Internet was that it would replace the traditional sources of travel information and travel booking and allow each of us to become our own travel agent.  It may not have worked out like that yet, but the Internet does make it a lot easier to find travel information without going to a library or bookstore, calling a travel agent or waiting interminably for someone to pick up a telephone.

I find the Internet most useful for finding initial information.  I have not succeeded in making any travel bookings online, despite several attempts.  I have used it to get information on air fares and hotel prices and availability, and then made the booking by telephone.  (I am reluctant to give my credit card number over the Internet, but if the savings are big enough I can be persuaded.)

One thing to remember about Internet travel sites is that they rarely cover the least expensive places to stay.  Most of them list only hotels that pay a commission, not university residences, Ys and other non-commercial lodging.  But for last minute booking they can be valuable

The following are some of the Internet sites I have found useful: - This site lists the packages and charter air fares Signature offers, primarily to sun destinations, from various Canadian cities.  The air fares can be real bargains – as low as $138 or so return to the Caribbean from Toronto when I checked.  There are also sometimes bargains on last minute packages. - This site competes with on air fares within and from the United States.  You specify when and where you want to go, and they come up with the best fare, which you must accept within 30 minutes.  I tried it for Burlington VT to Chicago in February and came up with a price of $208 US.   This compares to a lowest fare of $273 US from Montreal to Chicago at the same time.  If  you are willing to drive a bit and live near the border, this can work out cheaper than flying from Canada with our high taxes, noncompetitive airline situation and airport improvement fees. –This site is useful to check flight availabliity and prices, as well as delays.  I tried to use it to book a ticket but ended up having to call, because for some reason they said I have two frequent flier numbers- – US based and most flights and packages are from the US, but the site also includes articles on how to travel cheaply in various places.  As of the time of writing, there are articles on travelling inexpensively in Lisbon and Northern Ireland, among other destinations. – gives discount hotel rates in cities around the world.  I checked for hotels in New York and Chicago in January, and found rooms for as little as $59.95 with shared bath in New York, as low as $75.95 in Chicago for room with private bath.  I booked a room in New York  through this service a couple of years ago and was pleased with it, but found I could negotiate a lower price on the spot since the hotel was not busy. –provides data and articles on travel within Canada and abroad.  When I checked it, there was an interesting article from a newspaper on off the beaten track travel in Portugal.  Also offers travel booking service that seemed to work when I checked prices to fly from Montreal to London on two different dates. –this site has information on packages and air fares offered by several tour companies, but it is difficult to use.  You have to specify where and when you want to go before they tell you what is available – I was not able to just find out what last minute deals they were offering. – for cheap flights within Canada, they offer online booking.  A flight to St. John’s Newfoundland from Montreal is as low as $117 not including tax. – This US- based site will try to find the ideal destination to suit your preferences in terms of sports, cultural activities, time of year and budget if you register with them.  I tried it with a Toronto departure in late January for a ski vacation where I wanted to fly and be able to use German and Italian languages.  Their best match was Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the Bavarian Alps, and they rated it on a number of criteria. –a Vancouver-based site that gives information for an overlooked group of travellers, singles.  They list tours that do not charge single supplements and will try to connect members with other single voyageurs.

www/ –This airline provides discount air travel within Canada and to some popular destinations elsewhere.  Their Website gives air fares but does not include tax, and to find out about sales and specials you have to register and wait for an email within two weeks – apparently they never heard of Internet time. – one of the few US based travel sites that does not record an error if you want to fly from a Canadian city.  They provide information on the least expensive fares between various cities and the booking requirements—if you access them through you can find the fares in Canadian dollars.