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Surfing the net to help you holiday

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Charlie Swinbourne Charlie Swinbourne | 10:14 UK time, Friday, 23 March 2012

The internet has made it easier than ever to plan your travels. Whether you prefer to fly thousands of miles to exotic climes, or holiday nearer to home, here are some websites that will give you tips and advice for travelling to new destinations.

Newspaper websites often have online travel sections featuring first-hand accounts of their writers’ travels. An example is the Telegraph’s travel section, which includes this guide to saving money while on a city break. The Guardian’s travel section is also full of informative and entertaining travel articles, and helpfully allows you to explore travel options by place or by the type of trip you want to go on.

Once you have an idea of where you’d like to go, why not check out the area via online maps? Typing the name of a potential destination to Google Maps could help you see how far your potential hotel might be from the city centre, for example. For an alternative overview of countries around the world, you could also visit Worldmapper, which shows you “the world as you’ve never seen it before,” with maps that are adjusted to show you factors such as population, land mass and internet usage.

If you really want to take a look at a place before you visit, the internet makes it very easy to look at live webcams around major cities and towns. EarthCam is a live network of webcams, featuring live streams of streets and landmarks around the world, including Niagara Falls and  the Eiffel Tower. It even has a live video of the Abbey Road pedestrian crossing in London, made famous by The Beatles.

One important factor to consider before you travel is safety. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has a page on their website which enables you to check on travel advice by country. It gives you an idea of when hazardous weather conditions could occur, how safe the country is and even the threat of terrorism. There’s also a site from Directgov about protecting yourself from medical bills when you’re away, through travel insurance and when you’re holidaying in Europe, through the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

If you have a disability, Disabled Travel Advice has lots of useful advice articles divided into categories such as Activity Holidays and Air Travel. Meanwhile, Tourism For All is a charity site that features advice for disabled travellers, a forum and regular news items.

These are just a few of the sites I found that will help you plan that well-earned break. Happy exploring, and above all, enjoy your travels!

Charlie is a journalist and scriptwriter specialising in articles and films featuring deaf culture and sign language. He has written for the Guardian online and has contributed to programmes for Radio 4, while his films have won international awards. He also works in the arts, helping to make theatre accessible for deaf people.

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