This page describes websites that you may need to help you to research your trip. As well as the web address, I have also given a brief description of the functions of the website. I have grouped the websites according to their type or use.

You may find some of these links on travel websites on the page/menu option called ‘Travel Tools’. Others may be websites in their own right.

I recommend that you set up a ‘Travel Basics and Tools’ folder in your browser’s ‘Favourites’ option to ensure that these sites are always close to hand.

 

The weather

When I’ve spoken to holiday makers, one of the most common mistakes is getting the weather wrong. Yes the holiday is a bargain, but will you be staying inside the hotel during your stay and not on the beach?

All travel brochures have tiny graphs that give a rough indication of the average weather conditions. But are these averages the average highs, lows or just the average? One tour operator gives a brief introduction to the weather in Mauritius listing the average temperature and rainfall. There is no mention of the cyclone season that runs from November to May.

You may already have your favourite weather forecast website, but I have listed a few here. They are mainly American biased, but should still prove really useful in determining the best time to visit a particular destination, or to find out what you should pack if you are already booked.

AccuWeather
This website provides local forecasts for everywhere in the United States and over two million locations world-wide. They also provide more detailed information to paying customers. Their HQ claims to have the greatest number of forecast meteorologists in one location anywhere in the world.

BBC 
Input the city and click on search. This British site uses information provided by the Met Office

CNN 
Weather information is found in a similar manner to the BBC site. The site also contains information such as weather maps and allergy reports.   There are also links to weather emergency sites such as disaster relief and NOAA weather radio.

Intellicast 
This website forecasts the weather for 60,000 sites in the U.S. and around the globe. It offers detailed local forecasts to hurricane tracks, severe weather warnings and international conditions.

The Met Office
The home site for the Met Office, which is a Trading Fund within the British Ministry of Defence. The site also provides a useful iGoogle gadget to send customised weather information direct to your desktop.

The National Severe Storms Laboratory
If you’re really worried about the weather, then perhaps you should check this site out. Their team is committed to their mission to understand the causes of severe weather and thereby give out better warnings.

Weatherbase 
This isn’t a forecast website; instead it lists the average weather conditions for various locations throughout the world. They have collected, from a number of sources, comprehensive information for 16,439 cities world-wide. It doesn’t cover everywhere, and some locations such as Sharm el Sheik will take some detective work, but it is on the whole very useful. You can even switch between imperial and metric units.

The Weather Channel 
This site is operated by the Weather Channel cable TV channel and has over 40,000,000 hits every month. Most of the cities in the world are covered. You just have to enter the city name into the search box and click ‘go’. If there is more than one city with the chosen name, then a list of options in a drop down menu is generated.
There is also other weather related information on this site including weather maps, weather headline news, tropical updates and storm watch. It is also possible for users to customise the weather information that they wish to receive from the site.

Weather Underground 
Weather Underground is committed to delivering the most reliable, accurate weather information possible. Their state-of-the-art technology monitors conditions and forecasts for locations across the world, so you’ll always find the weather information that you need.

As with the previous sites, there is a search box. This one will also accept the airport code.  If your search term generates a list, just click on the location of interest. Depending on the location you could be shown the current conditions, including information such as temperature, wind-chill, humidity, dew point, visibility, flying rule, and wind speed, a five day forecast, a seven day forecast, historical maximum and minimum temperatures. It is also possible to find astronomical times, and links to other sites that provide satellites and radar images, ski conditions, weather maps, and marine weather.

Worldclimate 
A similar site to Weatherbase, WorldClimate.com gathers in one place a world-wide range of climate data in an easy-to-use form.

Weather2Travel 
Weather2Travel.com also provides climate content providers with extensive coverage that spans major cities and holiday destinations in every country of the world. It combines historical data with short range forecasting. It also has a more graphical interface than Worldclimate and Weatherbase.

This website also suggests destinations based on weather in your chosen month of travel.

World Meteorological Organization 
Weather information from the United Nations. It’s a great website if you are really into weather, but it does have forecasts, including smart phone apps.

YoWindow 
This isn’t really a website to use when making travel plans. It’s just a bit of fun. It uses a set landscape picture to show the current weather conditions of your place of interest. So you can choose a beach, a farm or even an airport and the scene will match the weather.

Time difference websites

With the fall in telephone call prices and the increase of travellers booking direct with companies in other countries, more and more people need to know the local time or the differences between time zones.

Some websites include a time difference calculator as part of their ‘package’, but there are sites that specialise in time difference, and can also include useful information such as dialling codes.

Search Engines
Using the search box you enter something similar to ‘current time in new york’ and click search and at the top of the listing you will get:

Time is 11:04 am on Thursday, Aug 6, 2009 – Albany, New York
This works on Yahoo!, Google and Alta Vista

Time and Date
This is a customisable website, and has useful features such as a World Clock which displays the current time in over 150 cities, a meeting planner, a calendar, and a Personalised World Clock where you can specify up to 25 locations.

It is also possible to find out daylight savings time information, the difference between a cities time zone and Greenwich Mean Time, sunrise and sunset time, dialling codes, and latitude and longitude.  The time zone converter will calculate the differences between times of two cities.

Time Zone Convertor
A ‘one stop shop’ for finding out the time around the world. As well as a time convertor there are tools to help you to plan events, find out your time zone and city times.

World Time Server 
A website that is similar to Time Zone Convertor, so it offers all the time tools that you could think of, as well as apps for your own website or computer.

Weights, measures and distances

The metric system is used almost world-wide (apart from Myanmar, USA and Liberia apparently), but there are still travellers that use other ways to measure or weigh something. Clothing can be especially difficult to work out, do you need a shoe sized 10, 44 or 10.5?

Search Engines

In the search box type in something like ‘convert 874 km to miles’ to get the answer. In Google you can also do the following:

1.59 euros/litre to dollars/gallon

This will produce a response similar to 1.59 (Euros / litre) = 10.3863243 U.S. dollars / Imperial gallon

Angelfire 
This website as a basic distance chart.

Indo 
This website for Bali and Indonesia has a distance converter and a currency converter. It doesn’t cover everywhere, but may be useful when travelling across the United States.

JohnnyJet 
This is a portal similar to Tyzo, with links to various tools and information providers. This clothing chart also includes Japanese sizes.

O and A 
This site also has links to convert shoe sizes, volumes and temperatures.

OnlineConversion 
This is a website that converts the size for you.

Travel money

Currency conversion

There are loads of websites that offer a currency converter as a feature. Some just show the current rate, while others will work out the conversion for specific amounts. Some sites are more up-to-date than others, but the worst case should be yesterday’s rates, while others will be within the last 30 minutes or so.

It can also be possible to find historical data. Search engines will also calculate rates for specific amounts by entering your requirements in the search box.

Search Engines
Using Google, searching ‘convert 150 usd to sterling’ gives a result similar to

150 U.S. dollars = 89.2804 British pounds

FXconverter 
This site offers a wealth of information, including historical data and a ‘cheat sheet’ which is a table of some conversions between two major currencies so that you have a rough guide to hand.

Universal Currency Converter 
Similar to FXConverter, this site also has historical data and an easy to use calculator. Just type in the amount and select the two currencies using drop down menus and click on ‘GO’.

It also helps you to keep a check on your travel expenses with an online form that calculates how much in your own currency you have spent, or if you are travelling for work, how much that you should claim from your business.

Cash and ATMs

In the past you had to visit your bank (or currency exchange) to obtain local currency for all the countries that you were visiting. Now practically wherever you land you will probably be able to use your bank or credit card to obtain currency by using an ATM.

MasterCard 
Using a drop down menu you can find an ATM in over 210 countries. You can filter the results to include only those that are surcharge free, wheelchair friendly, drive through or are open 24 hours.

There is also an iPhone App to help you to find an ATM while you are on the move.

Visa 
There are over 1 million ATMs throughout the world and this website will help you to find the nearest to you, or your chosen destination. Again, you search with the aid of drop down menus. The advance search option is handy if you are unsure how to spell the town or city.

Emergency Money

If you’re having a crisis and need money fast, then you’re in luck. It’s now a lot easier for your family and friends to send you some extra cash by a money transfer. The person helping you takes the money into an agent in the UK, and you go into a local office with your ID and draw the cash. This isn’t cheap, but if you haven’t got your cards then it’s probably the only way to get cash quickly.

MoneyGram 
This is probably the easiest one for your rescuers in the UK as they can use any Post Office branch. MoneyGram® agents are in over 256,000 locations in 192 countries and territories world-wide.

Western Union
This is probably the company that everyone thinks of when it comes to moving money around the world. You can set a transfer up either online or in an agent’s office/shop. It offers more than 400,000 locations world-wide.

Electricity and telephone sockets

International travellers who are used to packing their electrical appliances, phones, computers, and handheld devices often need information on electrical power and outlet configurations, telephone connections for modems, the use of cell phones, and special equipment.

Only one adaptor is needed

Always take a 4-way extension lead with you. Then you can use one adaptor to power up to 4 items (as long as you operate within the power rating of the adaptor; using four hairdryers at the same time is probably a bad idea). If you’re in a budget room, only use one appliance at a time. Local electrical standards are not always as high as those in the UK.

Finally, always check that your appliance will work with the voltage used in your destination. Computers, most phone chargers and radios should be ok, but hair dryers and hair straighteners may not work with lower voltages.

Travel Images

Here you will find diagrams of the various plugs and sockets, along with a list of the voltage and frequency for electricity supplies around the world.

Travel gear

You need to ensure that you have the correct clothing and equipment when you reach your chosen destination. As the saying goes, there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.

Specialist companies may also be able to supply suitable lightweight clothing to ensure that you don’t fall foul of the luggage allowance and excess baggage.

Gap Year Travel Gear 
Not the company to use if you’re looking for specialist adventure equipment, but they do specialise in gear for backpackers and travellers. Their products are aimed at being cost effective, lightweight, compact and practical.

Nomad 
As well as stocking various outdoor clothing, this site also offers camping equipment and medical advice and information for travellers.

Roaming Fox
Another ‘one-stop-shop’. This website also offers travel tips and advice.

Packing

This is one of the most important activities for your trip. How many times have you arrived and found that you have left something behind?

There are numerous websites that show how to get the most of your package space and some offer suggested packing lists.

One Bag
This Website offers exhaustive detail on the art and science of travelling light with nothing more than a single (carry-on-sized) bag.

Packing List On Line
Create a personalised packing list by using drop down menus and answering questions.

Travellers Point
This list was created with the help of members of the website’s forums. These are keen travellers who’ve been there and done that.

Universal Packing List
This website helps you to design a packing list for any destination and activity.

Religion

You may need to find somewhere for you to worship and to experience how your religion is practised locally.

Islamic Finder 
This is a comprehensive website and is very useful for the Islamic traveller. It is run by a non-profit organization and lists mosques, Islamic organizations, Islamic centres, and Muslim owned businesses all over the world. Another feature is that it provides prayer times for more than 5.2 million cities world-wide along with information about their Qiblah direction, distance from Kaaba (Makkah), longitude, and latitude.

Kosher Delight 
This is an online Jewish magazine. It is a very comprehensive site, as well as news and recipes; it lists Synagogues, Chabad Houses, etc. and Kosher hotels and restaurants.

Masstimes 
This website is managed by the Ministry of the Mass Times Trust, and was originally set up to help Catholics travelling around America. It was then expanded to help Catholics with handicaps, migrants, pilgrims, refugees, and travellers find a Mass or other worship services throughout the Catholic World.

Tipping

When abroad, the British start doing something different; they start to leave tips. But how much should you leave, and would it be appropriate?

It’s not as though tipping is an everyday occurrence in the UK, so this can get quite stressful for some people. Of course, you could just visit other countries where not tipping is also the norm.
Some tips are more voluntary than others. In my opinion, tipping is a hidden cost to a cruise as you are automatically charged a set amount.

Also if you’re on a driving holiday you may have heard of children offering to ‘guard’ a car for a small fee. If you don’t pay them, who knows?

So if you’re going to tip always get low denomination notes when changing your money, and keep this ‘tips cash’ separate. After all, after a long flight it’s all too easy to give $100 instead of $1.

Also, leave a small gift for your room cleaner every day. That way you always ensure that they get a tip. You might leave on your cleaner’s day off, so someone less deserving may pick it up.

The tipping custom for your chosen destination can be found from sites such as these.

Wikipedia 
One page from this famous mine of information. It doesn’t cover everywhere, but you can edit it if you feel that something is wrong, or if you have knowledge of tipping in a country that has yet to be covered.

The Original Tipping Page 
This site has links to other websites with information on tipping. Unfortunately not all of them are still working. However there is a working link to a website that names and shames lists bad tippers – you have been warned!

Travel tips

The Internet is full of experts (I’m not the only one!), so make full use of them by using the ‘Travel Advice’ sections on websites. These vary from basic FAQ sections to mini guides on subjects such as buying flights, packing, what to do in an emergency and keeping kids happy while travelling.

The Practical Nomad
Edward Hasbrouck is The Practical Nomad. He is an authority on international travel, on airfares and how to get deals on the Internet. He is also a blogger and author of the Practical Nomad series of travel how-to and advice books.

Rick Steves’ Europe 
This website aims to inspire, inform and equip Americans to have European trips that are fun, affordable and culturally broadening.

Travel Phrase 
Not travel tips as such, but a website that has translations of common phrases that a traveller might need.

Translation

When you use the Internet to research your trip you may come across websites written in the local language. If you can’t read the local language, you need to translate it somehow.

The following websites are to be used as a guide only. They should not be used to translate legal documents, or to be used for medical notification, such as for a severe food allergy. In instances like these, you need to speak to a professional translator.

Babelfish
Cut and paste the test into the box (max 150 words) and then using the dropdown menu select the languages. You can also translate a website but putting the web address (url) into the ‘Translate a Webpage’ box.

Free Translation 
According to the owners, this website uses the most powerful automatic translation engine on the market. It allows users to obtain free translations of both text and web pages. The translation is generated by a computer and is displayed instantly. The main feature of this website is that the user is also dynamically shown the cost of having the same text professionally translated by a company called Click2Translate Express.

Google
Google, the site that seems to do everything, has a translation tool. It can be used to translate bits of text, or a whole website. For some translations it also has a speaker button so you can hear how the words should be pronounced.

To access this service from the Google home page click on the ‘More’ heading in the index bar at the top of the page. Then you can paste in the required text, select the languages and then click on ‘Translate’.
To translate a whole website you need to click on the ‘Website Translator’ option near the bottom of the page.

Travlang 
This website provides a variety of useful tools for travellers, students and any other individuals interested in learning a foreign language. It also provides the user with links to some of the best places on the net already providing some related services.