When it comes to travel, the Web continues to grow. New search engines like Kayak.com are sprouting up, and older sites like Hotwire.com are expanding capabilities. To find the best the Internet has to offer—from adventure tours to wireless hot spots—we sifted and searched through hundreds of travel-related sites, looking at their user-friendliness, functionality, and even aesthetics. Below, the sites you should bookmark immediately.
Adventure A travel agency and tour operator founded in 1999, iExplore.com lets you book thousands of tours worldwide and provides extensive details on each. We like the ratings on difficulty, comfort, and exclusivity, too.
Airline Seats It's not just for airplane geeks: seatguru.com's cabin diagrams (listed by aircraft for 30 carriers) cover legroom, ergonomics, entertainment options, power outlets, and armrests.
Airports Turn to worldtravelguide.net for plenty of info on all the major airports, including maps, transfer options, nearby hotels, driving directions, and even shopping and dining facilities.
Auctions Our choice for discounted air, hotel, cruise, and rental-car rates is Hotwire. For hotels, it provides the greatest amount of background information—star rating, customer reviews, price, and neighborhood—without actually revealing the property's name until you book. Last year, the site expanded to include European hotels and time windows for airfares.
Budget Airlines In recent years, dozens of low-cost carriers have taken wing from Europe to Asia. Find a comprehensive list, arranged by route, on whichbudget.com.
Camping For a searchable directory of campgrounds, try woodalls.com, which also includes a database with details on destinations, along with services, directions, and ratings.
Cooking Classes You'll find the largest number of links to culinary classes and tours at cookforfun.shawguides.com, which allows you to browse by date, location, or area of interest, from American Regional to Wine.
Cruises Online agent icruise.com makes searching for a cruise easy, whether it's by destination, departure port, sail date, cruise line, or specific ship. The site also has telling photos and lots of ship details, including member reviews, tipping policies, and dinner seating times.
Ecotourism Wondering how to travel while supporting environmentally friendly policies?The eco-minded certification group Green Globe 21 lists participating hotels and tour companies online at greenglobe21.com. The program, founded by the World Travel & Tourism Council, is one of the most rigorous around.
Electronics To figure out which electrical adapter or phone plug to use, or to find a list of international codes for calling into and out of every country, kropla.com is a good resource.
European Trains We found the widest selection of rail tickets, from single fares to multi-country passes, on raileurope.com. Last year, the site added real-time booking, so you can reserve a seat on a specific train for point-to-point trips, rather than buying an open ticket first and reserving later.
Health Clubs Looking for an indoor pool near a particular address?There are 7,000 fitness centers, spanning 74 countries, listed at healthclubs.com.
Hotel Reviews Although the big-three travel agent sites do have hotel customer reviews, tripadvisor.com's collection is still the most comprehensive, with 3 million reviews of more than 200,000 properties and attractions, plus links to guidebook reviews and candid user photos. You can also search by popularity, price, and neighborhood—but you can't book here.
Last-Minute Travel For a wealth of information on last-minute airfares, plus hotel, car-rental, vacation-package, and cruise prices, we like smartertravel.com. And if browsing through this busy site gets too cumbersome, just sign up for the free weekly e-mail.
Loyalty Programs It would be hard to pack much more detail on airline, hotel, and car loyalty programs into webflyer.com. The site has opinionated ratings and reviews; it also lets you track multiple programs and stay up-to-date on promotions.
Maps The smoothest interface for driving directions and addresses is at maps.google.com, which offers the option to view regular maps or satellite images. Unfortunately, it's mostly focused on the United States—although London maps are also online.