10 Travel Web Sites Worth Visiting

Credit to: the New York Times Travel Section for an interesting addition to our already large list of Travel and Gear Links
Original article By SETH KUGEL

People managed to travel quite well before the Internet came along, although how they did it is now shrouded in mystery. There are so many Web sites to help you plan trips and book trips and fantasize about trips and (best of all) save money on trips that the difficulty is not finding a site that will help you but choosing from among the bounty.

It’s been a while since I updated the bookmarks you’ll find next to the articles on the Frugal Traveler blog page, so I’ve decided to add a bunch more, ranging from the indispensable to the just-for-fun. Here is a selection of 10 that you should consider bookmarking.


1. Dishtip.com
Though if I had to pick just one site to help with restaurant recommendations around the globe, it would be Chowhound, DishTip organizes the world of eating out in the United States a whole new way: By clam chowder. Or turkey sandwich. Or blueberry pie. In other words, by single dish, not by restaurant. The site sorts through reviews across the Web, figures out what has been raved about, aggregates its findings and spits out rankings of the best dishes in Denver or the pizzas in Portland or the fried food in Phoenix.

The result may not be perfect, but it sure is helpful if you’re obsessed with one dish or simply like the very rational idea of determining where you’ll eat by the meal you want rather than by the chef who will cook it or the neighborhood it’s cooked in. Go ahead, try it with a dish you like in a city you know. Sure, you may not specifically agree with its “choices” for, say, the best cookie in New York City — 1. Oatmeal raisin from Levain; 2. Chocolate chip from Jacques Torres; 3. Macaroon from the Meatball Shop — but you have to admit, not bad for a computer.

2. Skypicker.com
Skypicker basically helps you figure out where you can fly within your budget. It’s sort of like the “explore” page of Kayak.com, but focuses exclusively on Europe, and on very, very cheap flights.

Let’s say you’re somewhere in Europe (or planning to be), and you want to see where you can go from there for very low cost. You plug in your approximate date of departure, about how many days you want to stay, and voilà: there’s a list of the cheapest flights available. (Not all fees are included — you won’t find out the exact cost until you go to the airlines’ Web sites to book.)

When I tested the site, pretending to be driven insane by foggy, rainy London and wanting to go anywhere cheaply for a long weekend two weeks ahead, I ended up with a 38-euro (or $48) round trip on Ryanair to Nîmes in the south of France. When I actually went to Ryanair to book, the cost was £35 (or $55), including fees, and I assume the final cost (with a luggage charge, perhaps) might be a bit more. But still, a good deal.

3. Stay.com
I’m generally dubious of sites that claim they can plan your trip for you. But for a quick and dirty agenda with a few useful extras, stay.com is not bad at all.

Here’s what you do: Choose one of more than 100 destinations, from Aix-en-Provence to Marrakesh to Lake Tahoe. Then go through their listings of top attractions, museums, shopping, restaurants and the like, clicking on whatever appeals to you. Those choices magically turn into a personalized itinerary that you can either turn into a pdf file and print or, better yet, send to your smartphone, where with the Stay.com app you can use it — and the city map that comes with it — even when you’re offline (meaning no international roaming charges).

And you’re not limited to the places you’ve initially chosen: you can add from their lists (and, theoretically, from your friends’ suggestions) on the run as well. Sure, guidebook apps might be more in depth, but stay.com is free and easy.

4. Staydu.com
A neat site that matches hosts from around the world with travelers looking for unique local experiences. That can mean volunteering to teach English or doing farm work in exchange for lodging and meals, or simply paying a small fee to move in with a local resident. The site is not overly populated with opportunities yet, but shows a lot of potential.

5. Vayama.com

Vayama is a flight search engine that specializes in international routes — the Achilles’ heel of the sites you already use, whether you know it or not. Vayama simply seems to know about more airlines and often finds two one-way flights on different airlines that beat out a round-trip flight on a single one. It also occasionally offers you a lower price on a “secret carrier” whose identity you don’t learn until you’ve booked the flight.

6. Trivago.com
If you want to compare many hotel sites at once (including heavyweights like booking.com and hotels.com), try Trivago, an easy-to-use metasearch site. Trivago can be especially helpful in more unusual destinations. I was recently searching for a hotel stay in Fortaleza, Brazil, and Trivago included a few affordable rooms that were exclusively from volayo.com, a Brazil-based hotel booking site I had never heard of.

7. Matadornetwork.com
Matador is a free online travel community whose site contains treasure troves of articles written in a variety of styles, organized into topics like “art and design,” “culture and religion” and “language and study abroad.” You can get lost in here, coming in via a search for essential Russian phrases and ending up craving lavender and hibiscus Popsicles from an Edmonton farmers market.

8. Seat61.com
“It would be lovely if there was a single Web site that sold tickets for any European train journey at the cheapest price, but there isn’t,” writes Mark Smith, better known among the frugal train-riding set as “the Man in Seat 61.” You could just go to raileurope.com and book a ticket, but in many cases you’ll pay more than necessary. Mr. Smith’s site is friendly and informal in style but encyclopedic in content, and full of links to get you to the right booking sites.

9. Triptuner.com
No idea where you want to go? With Triptuner, just use a panel of six sliders (like the kind on graphic equalizers) to “tune” your trip. Do you want “relaxing” or “active” or somewhere in the middle? “Bikini” weather or “parka” weather? An “urban/lively” spot or a “remote/quiet” one?

When I maxed out the sliders toward relaxing-bikini-urban/lively trip, I got suggestions like Miami, Phuket and Salvador, Brazil — pretty good choices. When I went the opposite way — active-parka-remote/quiet, Triptuner came up with Jungfraujoch, Switzerland, or Torres del Paine, Chile. The site doesn’t go much farther than that (though you can book hotels), but it’s enough to get you thinking.

10. Expatsblog.com/blogs
The best travel guides are often expatriates who have lived in a destination long enough to know it intimately but still maintain an outsider’s perspective. This site lists over 300 expat blogs by destination, and in many you don’t have to delve very far to find travel tips disguised as personal narratives.

Denali Highway Travel Guide

Although it was once the original travel route to Denali National Park, the Denali Highway is now overlooked by many tourists. Yet this highway rewards the traveller who has time to spare with outstanding scenery, good chances to view wildlife, and best of all, glimpses of Alaska as it used to be- wilderness in all directions. The Denali is serendipity country where one can still be surprised by an unanticipated vista, an unexpected wildlife sighting or an unplanned adventure along an unmarked trail- the experiences that make for the most memorable of vacations.

What to do


No permits are required for non-commercial camping on BLM-administered lands. The three BLM campgrounds with a total of 46 campsites are on a first come-first served basis and have a camping limit of 14 days in any 60-day period.


Bring topographic maps. Trails usually are unmarked. Rubber boots are recommended to cross wet spots.


Lake trout and grayling in the many lakes and streams along the highway. For further information, consult the Denali Highway Fishing Guide published by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Note: Along the Denali Highway, salmon are only found in the upper Gulkana River near Paxson.


The entire route presents outstanding opportunities for observing glacial features and wildlife. Caribou, moose, black and grizzly bear, ptarmigan, trumpeter swan and numerous waterfowl species can be expected.


Tangle lakes, and upper Nenana, Delta and Gulkana rivers.

Travel Tips

The Denali Highway is about 133 miles long and connects Paxson on the east with Cantwell on the west side. A loop trip from Fairbanks would involve a trip of about 436 miles and a trip from Anchorage and return would be about 600 miles. Allow several days for these trips.

The highway is generally open from mid-May to October I and is paved only for the first 21 miles west of Paxson. When driving on gravel, SLOW DOWN when passing another vehicle. Just one small flying rock can damage a windshield and it could be yours. The maximum recommended speed for travel when no other vehicles are in sight is 30 mph.

Before venturing along this road, be sure your vehicle is in good working order. Check your spare tire and see that you have a jack and lug wrench. Carry extra water and sufficient food for an emergency situation. You cannot predict how long it will take to get help if you become stranded.

Five inns (or roadhouses) offer services between Paxson and Cantwell.

Bring proper clothing so that you are prepared for any type of weather. It can be hot and sunny one day and cold, rainy and windy the next. It can snow any month of the year.

For further information, contact:

Bureau of Land Management

Glennallen District Office

Box 147

Glennallen, AK 99588

(907) 822-3217

Vitamins and Supplements

Vitamin: An Organic nutrient (as opposed to a Mineral, which is inorganic) essential for normal physiological and Metabolic functions of the body. Most vitamins cannot be synthesized by the body and must be ingested in food or supplements.

Vitamin A: An important fat soluble Vitamin that helps in the formation and maintenance of healthy teeth, skeletal and soft tissue, mucous membranes and skin. It is also known as Retinol, as it generates the pigments that are necessary for the working of the retina. It promotes good vision, especially in dim light. It may also be required for reproduction and lactation. Beta-carotene, which has Antioxidant properties, is a precursor to vitamin A. Because it is fat-soluble, it can accumulate in the Liver, so overdosing is possible. a

Vitamin B12: Also known as Cyanocobalamin, is a water soluble Vitamin involved in protein, carbohydrate and fat metabolism, as well as blood formation and nerve function. Sources are liver, kidneys, fish and meats. Deficiency, commonly called megablastic anemia, can occur in strict vegetarians and also in those who have a problem absorbing B12 due to a lack of intrinsic factor, a substance secreted essential for absorption of vitamin B12. This can also occur as we age.

Vitamin B2: A water-soluble Vitamin (also known as Riboflavin) required by the body for health, growth and reproduction; part of the vitamin B complex. It is important for red cell production and helps release energy from Carbohydrates. Dietary sources include lean meats, eggs, Legumes, nuts, green leafy vegetables and dairy products. Breads and cereals are often fortified with Riboflavin. Oral contraceptives can reduce riboflavin levels.

Vitamin B3: Also known as Niacin or Nicotinic acid, it is used to treat various medical conditions such as high Cholesterol, peripheral vascular disease and Migraines. If supplementing with Niacin, be sure to get the flush-free variety. High doses can stress the Liver.

Vitamin B6: Also known as Pyridoxine, this water-soluble nutrient plays a role in the Immune System’s synthesis of Antibodies, helps maintain normal brain function and form red blood cells. It is also required for the chemical reactions of proteins. Vitamin B6 is found in beans, nuts, Legumes, eggs, meats, fish, Whole grains and fortified breads and cereals. The higher the protein intake, the greater the need for this nutrient. Deficiency of this Vitamin is not common in the United States. Excessive doses can cause neurological disorders and numbness.

Vitamin C: This water-soluble Vitamin, also known as Ascorbic acid, is an Antioxidant that has been shown to play a role in boosting the Immune System. The Recommended Daily Intake RDI) is 60-75mg per day, but Linus Pauling and other complementary practitioners recommend considerably higher doses for preventing the common cold. Sources of vitamin C include strawberries, peaches, plums, tomatoes, celery, onions and cabbage.

Vitamin K: A fat-soluble Vitamin that plays an important role in blood clotting, vitamin K is found in vegetables, including cabbage, cauliflower, spinach and other leafy greens, as well as in cereals and soybeans. The bacteria lining of the gastrointestinal tract also makes vitamin K. Vitamin K counteracts the effects of oral anticoagulant drugs such as Coumadin.

VLDL (very-low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol: The type of lipoprotein made primarily by the liver cells to transport Lipids to various tissues in the body.

Magnesium: A silver-white mineral, the element magnesium is involved in nearly every essential bodily function, from the healing of the heart to the creation of bone and the regulation of Blood sugar. It helps to burn Fat and produce energy and is also known as the “gatekeeper of cellular activity.” Magnesium is abundant in foods such as Wheat, bran, almonds and tofu.

Maltitol: This Sugar alcohol is used by food manufacturers as a replacement for Carbohydrates such as Sucrose. It contributes only 2.1 Calories per gram as compared to sucrose’s 4 calories per gram; nor does it raise blood glucose as sucrose does.

Maltodextrin: A type of Sugar, and therefore a Carbohydrate, found in packaged foods.

Manganese: A trace element, this Mineral is essential for growth, reproduction, wound healing, peak brain function and for the proper Metabolism of Sugars, Insulin and Cholesterol.

Melatonin: A hormone secreted by the brain’s pineal gland, a small gland in the center of the brain that regulates body rhythms and, thus, sleep. Studies have shown that those with low melatonin levels who suffer insomnia are best helped by supplemental melatonin. It has also proven useful for jet lag and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Mercury: A toxic metallic element found in old thermometers, some fireworks, paints, hair dyes, antiseptics and fungicides. The ingestion or inhalation of mercury-containing products or food such as fish contaminated by polluted water can cause mercury poisoning, which can lead to death.

Metabolic advantage: The benefit gained by switching the body from a glucose metabolism to a fat metabolism, thereby allowing the consumption of a greater number of Calories than is possible on other weight-control programs.

Metabolic resistance: A state in which it is extremely difficult to lose weight, despite restricted dietary consumption.

Metabolism: The process by which foods are transformed into basic elements that can be utilized by the body for energy or growth; the sum of all chemical reactions that go on in living cells. Metabolism includes all the reactions by which the body obtains and spends all the Calories it gets from food.

Milligram: A unit of weight used in the metric system (abbreviated as mg). One thousand micrograms equals one milligram. One ounce is equivalent to 28.4 mg.

Mineral: In nutrition, a compound nutrient that contains an inorganic substance, such as a metal or other trace element found in the earth’s crust. For example, sodium chloride (table salt) is a compound of Sodium and chlorine. Minerals play a vital role in regulating many of the body’s functions.

Molybdenum: A trace element that in supplemental form is known to cleanse the body of toxic compounds, generate energy, help manufacture hemoglobin and relieve symptoms of Arthritis and Asthma. This Mineral can be poisonous if ingested in large quantities.

Monosaccharides: Simple sugars, such as Glucose, Fructose and galactose.

Monounsaturated fat: A Fatty acid with only one double or triple bond per Molecule, it is found in such foods as fowl, almonds, pecans, cashew nuts, peanuts, avocado and olive and canola oil.

Mountain Miseries

A Guide to the Effects of Cold and Altitude

Each year, several visitors to our mountains die needlessly. They fall victim to the problems discussed here because they didn’t know how to protect themselves from the mountain envir-. onment. The San Luis Valley Emergency Medical Services Council has prepared this pamphlet for free distribution–not to scare you, or to make your stay in the Rockies less enjoyable, but in the hope that by reading this, you will become better prepared to cope with some of the hazards of the mountains. We hope that your trip to Coforado has a happy ending, and if by means of this message to you, we prevent just one unhappy ending, we will consider our efforts well rewarded. Please read this-think about what we are saying-consider for a moment whether you are prepared to handle the situations we describe here…


Acclimatization to high altitude involves complex changes in your body’s regulatory mechanisms. For example, breathing auto-matically becomes more rapid, and the blood increases its proportion of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. These changes enable the body to function properly even though the amount of available oxygen is much less at high altitude. Your body starts adapting to this lack of oxygen upon reaching altitude-about 90% of acclimatization occurs in 10 days, and about 98% occurs in 6 weeks.

You may notice any of the following symp-toms, which indicate that you are not yet completely adapted to high altitude: shortness of breath, general malaise (a “run-down” feeling), loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, dizzi-ness, and headache.

Mountain Sickness

Rapid ascent by persons not used to altitude, as by automobile, to altitudes over 8000 feet usually results in what is known as “Mountain Sickness”. In addition to the symptoms listed above, you may experience drowsiness, yawn-ing, weakness, and chilliness. You may notice a whitish pallor of the face, and a bluish tinge of the lips and fingernails. Headache is frequent and may be severe. Even slight physical effort can produce troublesome shortness of breath. You may notice pounding or palpitations of the

heartbeat. Sleep can be difficult, and respira-tion may assume the pattern of several very deep, rapid breaths followed by a. period of shallow or even ab!ient breathing, then deep, rapid breaths again. This type of breathing is known as “Cheyde-Stokes” breathing, and is so common at high altitudes that it should not be considered abnormal. Dizziness, ringing in the ears, irritability, and memory defects may appear. Most of the symptoms of mountain sickness are due to the effect of oxygen lack in the body’s central nervous system and should disappear when you become better adapted to altitude. Most of them stop within 24 to 48 hours after arrival at altitude, although the shortness of breath, lack of appetite, and headache may persist.

Rest, or at most very light physical activity during the first 24 hours at altitude is helpful in preventing mountain sickness; more serious symptoms can often be alleviated by descent to a lower elevation for a day or two. Proper diet and fluid intake also are very important–the success of the 1973 American Everest Expedi-tion was attributed in large part to continuous, conscientious efforts to consume adequate amounts of food and liquids in spite of loss of appetite. At least two quarts of liquid should be drunk daily, and four quarts are preferable.

High Altitude Pulmonary Edema

Mountain sickness is caused by lack of oxygen and, although extremely disagreeable, is not life-threatening. A disorder called High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) is also caused by oxygen lack, and although apparently rare is extremely dangerous-deaths have resulted in within 6 to 10 hours from the onset of symptoms. Although the set of conditions which result in HAPE are very complex and poorly understood, diagnosis is not difficult. The classic symptoms are rapidly increasing shortness of breath and a dry cough which later produces a white, frothy sputum which may be streaked with blood. The victim is usually cyanotic (that is, blueness of the lips and nails is present). Bubbling sounds may be heard, as if the victim is breathing through liquid-as indeed he is; pulmonary edema means that blood plasma has leaked into the air sacs of the lungs.

Adequate acclimatization seems to be the best protection against HAPE. Above 1 0,000 feet, at least one day should be allowed for each thousand feet of altitude gained. As with mountain sickness, adequate fluid intake is extremely important.

The treatment of choice for HAPE is IMMEDIATE AND RAPID DESCENT! Instances have been reported where normal breathing was restored only 2000 feet lower than the altitude at which symptoms appeared. If oxygen is available, give it at 4 liters per minute while descending,


Most deaths of victims lost in the mountains that are called “exposure” by the media are really due to a condition called hypothermia. Simply put, this is a loss of body heat faster than it is being produced, causing a drop in the body’s inner-core temperature. Usually, it results from a loss of the body’s store of nutrients in a situation where the victim is subjected to severe chilling. Hypothermia can occur well above freezing–deaths have been recorded when the temperature never dropped below 50 0 F.

When clothes become wet, they lose about 90 per cent of their insulating value. Wind drives cold air under and through clothing and refrig-erates wet clothing by evaporating moisture from the surface.

Cold affects the body slowly and subtly–it can produce lapses in memory, errors in judgment, clumsiness and loss of coordination. THE VICTIM IS UNAWARE THAT THESE MENTAL EFFECTS ARE HAPPENING!

There are signs and symptoms that indicate the victim is in the process of dying from hypother-mia-these can be divided into three consecutive


1. Uncontrollable shivering–which is an attempt by the body to generate heat and maintain a normal body tempera-

ture. This stage will last as long as the body has readily-available nutrients, for practical purposes, this consists of sugars and starches (fats and proteins cannot be used by the body fast enough to help).

II. Shivering stops-the body no longer has the fuel necessary to produce heat. The victim will be listless and indifferent. HE WILL NOT BE MOTIVATED TO SAVE HIMSELF. He will be clumsy, forgetful, and he cannot make the decisions neces-sary to save his life.

III. Unconsciousness, coma and death can follow Stage 11 in a matter of minutes.

A hypothermia victim, even in the first stages, will usually deny that he is in trouble.

BELIEVE THE SYMPTOMS, NOT THE VICTIM. You must act quickly and drastically to save his life! Get the victim out of the wind and rain and into the best shelter available. Remove his v4et clothing and replace it with dry, insulate him from the ground, and warm him the best way you can. If he is fully conscious, give him warm, sweetened liquids. Get him into a sleeping bag, if one is available, which has been pre-warmed by another member of the party. (Placing a hypothermia victim in a cold sleeping bag will do him no good–remem-ber, he cannot produce enough heat to keep his inner-core body temperature at a survival level.) Skin-to-skin contact is the most effective treat-ment, with the victim in a sleeping bag with another person. If the victim is able to eat, give him anything that is high in carbohy-drates–candy bars, hard candy, or dextrose tablets are easy to carry. Under no circum-stances should a hypothermia victim be given alcoholic beveragesl Alcohol dilates the blood vessels near the surface of the skin, and will in effect chill the blood, causing a further drop in inner-core body temperature. .

Fortunately, with a minimum of knowledge and preparedness, hypothermia can be prevented. Dress for WARMTH, WIND, and WET-the three W’s of hypothermia. Although clothing does lose much of its insulating value

when wet, wool retains more insulation value than any other fabric. Put on rain gear before you are wet; put on wool clothes and wind gear before you are shivering. Protect the insulating value of down clothes by keeping them dry–a wet down garment amounts to two layers of thin nylon.

Any time you or your party is exposed to wind, wet or cold, carefully watch for signs of hypothermia: uncontrollable shivering; slow, slurred speech; irrational actions; memory lapses; immobile, fumbling hands; frequent stumbling; apparent exhaustion; and drowsiness (to sleep is to die). Remember that a person can slip into hypothermia in a matter of minutes and can die in less than 2 hours after the first signs of hypothermia are detected.

Carry emergency food that is high in sugars and is used only for emergency, eat regularly, have rain and wind gear with you, and THINK!

Alcohol and Altitude

It is difficult to predict exactly, but one alcoholic drink at altitude, in an unacclimatized person, is at least the equivalent of two or three at sea level. The lack of oxygen at altitude strengthens the sedative and disorienting effects of alcohol-and also the effects of sedatives and tranquilizers. USE CAUTION with alcohol and with these drugs until you are acclimatized.

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