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  Internet Travel Planning Tips

With today's technology, airlines encourage direct Internet ticket purchase to the point of penalizing you for not purchasing an e-ticket. And the selection of hotels, restaurants and even tickets to European sights and attractions can all be accomplished online. Here are some tips to help you navigate the internet when making your travel plans:

The Internet is really an amazing tool. And often its awesome power manifests itself in the simplest and most basic of projects. Let's take the example of planning a trip to Europe with your family or friends. You will be simply astounded at the mountain of details and specific planning tools available to you via the Internet once you begin to search. And it's all pretty easy, once you get the hang of it. We Americans may have invented the Internet, but Europeans use it with a vengeance. If there is a sight, hotel, restaurant or shop in Europe that you're interested in, chances are they have a website.

Tip: When looking for specific websites having to do with Europe, try names with the appropriate country extension. While what you're looking for may have a .com address, chances are even better that the specific site will end in .fr (France), .de (Germany), .ch (Switzerland, .nl (The Netherlands), .at (Austria), .uk (United Kingdom), etc. For example, produces no return page. However, brings you to a comprehensive website covering the city of Versailles, hotels, restaurants and the Palace.

Tip: Before rushing into a website that written in a language you can't easily understand, scan the home page for a US or British flag, indicating that the site also is available in English. Click there and then proceed to wander around in English.

Believe it or not, you could plan and carry out a pretty well thought out three-week tour of Europe by using only one website: . And it's free! This single sight allows you to plan your route, print out incredibly detailed maps, select and reserve hotels and restaurants along the way, and check the weather.

It's suggested that you find a general map of Europe and roughly trace the route you'd like to follow. Let's say, for example, Paris to Rome. Next decide how many days you will be in Europe, say, 17.

After some reading about the "biggies," Paris and Rome, decide how many days you need to explore these cities, say, 3 nights in Paris, and 3 nights in Rome. This leaves you with 11 nights to play with between Paris and Rome. Next select the stopping points between the two ends that are of interest to you. For example: Strasbourg, The Black Forest, a village in Switzerland, a small town in Northern Italy, then a few nights in the countryside nearby Florence and Siena. Get the idea?

Rather than a chore, trip planning can become a genuine education prior to the event itself. You'll be surprised how much you learn about the various regions and locations in general.

Tip: Learn to differentiate between Travel Days and Touring Days.

A Travel Day would be the day's drive from Paris to Strasbourg, for example. ( tells you that this distance is about 300 miles and will take about 4.5 hours to drive at a normal speed. From this you may conclude that you have more than enough time to stop along the way, say, in Reims, for a tour of a Champaign maker. You could even throw in a stop in Verdun to view the battlefields of World War I and II.)

The next day would be the Touring Day for that city (Strasbourg) and region (maybe 2 days?). And then you would move on to the next stopover. It's wise to stay two nights wherever possible. Moving from hotel to hotel on a daily basis becomes tiring after a while.

Once you've laid out your itinerary you can proceed to an in-depth study of each stop: the sights, hotels, restaurants. There are endless websites devoted to virtually every aspect of European travel.

Tip: Learn to use your 'Favorites' tool from the very beginning of your searches. Make a new folder called something like 'Europe Trip', etc. Next make sub-folders for each country you have interest in visiting, and subfolders in each of these countries for hotels, restaurants, sites, etc.

Then when you've stumbled across a site you want to return to, place it immediately in its appropriate folder and subsection. Trust me, three days later when you want to find the site, you'll be glad you saved it.