Roaming World Wide Web for Travel Info

Article excerpt

DURING THE PAST few months, I've merged with millions of computer users in cruising the Internet, the worldwide network of computers and databases.

While there's information on just about any topic you can think of, the Internet is becoming rich in travel information.

Most of my computer travel has been on the World Wide Web, a section of the Internet that marries graphics and text in a novice-friendly way.

Through the Web, I can reserve a rental car or book rooms at hotels worldwide, get information on visiting U.S. national parks or read the comments of individual travelers on everything from crummy airline service to finding a hotel room in Bangkok.

So far, the travel information I've found by computer can't yet replace the comprehensiveness, and portability, of a good guidebook. And a knowledgeable travel agent or airline reservationist still can find a low air fare more quickly than I can.

Still, traveling around the Web is addictive. You never know what you'll find - or whom.

Getting Into The Web

If you want to start exploring the World Wide Web, here are some basics:

You need a computer with a modem (a device that lets your computer communicate via a phone line). A computer with a mouse is best, since Web home pages are designed for its point-and-click style.

You need access to the Internet, either through a commercial on-line service that has both Internet access and its own offerings (such as CompuServe, America Online or the new Microsoft Network), or through a company that simply provides Internet access.

You also need software (such as Netscape or Mosaic) to navigate the Web and take advantage of its graphics. But if you are entering the Web through a commercial on-line service, that software is usually provided.

Once you're into the Web, moving around is easy: Point the mouse to the highlighted text or graphic on the screen, click on it, and the computer takes you there (sometimes to computer sites halfway around the world). Most good Web pages link to dozens of other Web sites as well.

Where To Start

Two Web sites - Yahoo and the Global Network Navigator - could keep travelers roaming in cyberspace for months.

Think of the Internet as a massive encyclopedia - but one that's not in alphabetical order. Yahoo and GNN are ways to find the information you want, working as guides to the Internet and linking to hundreds of other Web sites.

Yahoo: This is an excellent general index for all sorts of subjects, and it's a particularly convenient way to search for Web sites on travel - from foreign currency and hotel rates to tips on budget travel and on visiting Disneyland. Yahoo also gives access to some of the Internet's travel discussion groups (called newsgroups and a way for computer users to trade information).

The electronic addresses for Yahoo's travel portion is:

http://www.yahoo.com/recreation /travel

Global Network Navigator: This is one of the Internet's first information clearinghouses and a good way to sort through the Web's layers upon layers of travel information. …