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I Was Born a Ramblin’ Man

Websites to help the weary business traveler.

By David Connell

Business travel. For most of us, the mere pairing of these words is enough to cause shudders. The phrase immediately conjures up images of waiting in long airport security lines—perhaps in our stocking feet, stuffing garment bags in tiny rental car trunks, disappointing local cuisine, lonely hotel bars and finally the indignity of an anonymous room. Travel, it seems, is no longer the glamorous adventure of steamer trunks, sleeping cars and cocktails at the Waldorf.

But until videoconferencing over a broadband network becomes a reality—rather than an IT department pipe dream—we’re stuck with business travel. So here are a few sites to help send you on your way:

One-stop shopping
Business Traveler
Admittedly, the idea of a monthly magazine dedicated to business travel doesn’t sound that appealing, but Business Traveler gets the best out of the subject by combining good editorial content with useful tools. You can book a flight, hotel room and rental car through the magazine’s website while getting the latest news on airport expansions, hotel customer loyalty programs and all things pertaining to business travel. A regular e-newsletter keeps readers abreast of the news and the latest travel deals. You can, however, skip the city guides, which don’t offer much useful information.

How’s the weather up there?
Weather.com weather tools for the business traveler
If you want to know what the weather will be anytime, anywhere, Weather.com—the online companion to the Weather Channel—has you covered. This page offers tools to deliver airport delays and destination weather to your pager, cell phone and email inbox; local weather by email, phone and PDA; and a downloadable, perpetual weather box on your PC desktop. Oh, and it also has television listings for business travelers still stuck in the 1990s.

Guides galore
Zagat
Yahoo! Travel
Once you’ve arrived you don’t want to depend on Appleby’s for your food, or the hotel bar for your drink—so you’ll need to know what’s up in your adopted city. For years, Zagat guides have set the standard for food reviews and they’ve recently expanded into nightlife, hotels and even golf. All of their information is online, and for a $19.95 yearly subscription you can find the best places eat, sleep, pitch and put.

To get to know a city, it’s hard to beat Yahoo! Destination and Hotel Guides. They provide brief overviews of major cities, hotel and dining recommendations and major attractions. However, their best feature is editorial from some of the best guidebooks around, including Fodors, Lonely Planet and Rough Guides. To get information from these great books scroll down to the bottom of each city page.

Hopping the pond
While you might not be travelling overseas for business, everyone needs to take a vacation. Serving as an unofficial ambassador is a great way to reconnect with your soul. With this in mind, we suggest a pair of websites for international travelers:

ViaMichelin
Michelin—the originators of the famed one-through-five-star Michelin Guides—has always been the best source for dining and lodging options in Europe. Its free website has a plethora of information on both subjects and includes pages on weather and traffic. Also, its interactive map is perhaps the best on the Internet.

Country calling codes
International travelers, bookmark this page! If you’re stuck in Angola and need to ring up a mate in Liverpool to meet for a pint and a match on the telly, could you do it? Sure, simply dial 00-44-151 and the number. This, and all manner of country-to-country calling combinations, can be found on this easy-to-use page. The site looks a bit cheesy and is chock full of ads, but the results speak for themselves.

 


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