Travel planning takes time and lots of it. These five tools and options let you quickly find maps, currency exchange rates, somewhere to sleep, the local time and save your photos.
Quick! Where are you going?
Google Maps has very detailed maps of most western countries. There are also satellite photos of most, which is highly useful to see what's actually on the ground. You can even make your own custom maps. Alternatively, try Yahoo! Maps or get a paper map from Stanfords.
How much is 5,600 Turkish lira?
Bargaining in a distant country is tricky enough, but if you're not sure about the funny-looking money's value, it's even harder. XE.com's Universal Currency Converter helps you translate those lira into US dollars, or UK pounds or... You can also try X-rates.com.
Need a place to rest your head?
If you're travelling on a budget and need to find a hostel in a hurry, try hostelworld.com. The site's huge inventory of hostels and cheap hotels can sort you out quickly most anywhere in the world. Alternatively, try Couchsurfing for a place to crash and meeting new friends.
What's the time?
No matter that the web is bringing the world together, it seems everyone else lives in a different time zone. Which makes calling them up to talk or arrange something difficult as everything's shut at 3 am local time. Try World Time Server to get the local time at your destination. Or try The World Clock.
No more room in your camera?
Flickr is fine for sharing low quality snaps with your friends, but what if you need to save your perfectly exposed high resolution travel photos? The snapfish photo service lets you store an unlimited amount of high quality files for free, as long as you buy a few prints a year from them. Your best alternative is to burn the photos onto CDs, one copy to mail home and another to put in your backpack - one will make it.
Now share your tips
Got any other time-savers or really simple and useful tools? Leave your suggestions and feedback.
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A good list you have here, but since you asked Jack.. I can't resist some blatant self-promotion ;)
Our site, Travellerspoint offers maps specifically tailored to travellers, allowing you to plot your trips, past and present. You can integrate these maps with your photos and blog entries to create a complete record of your travels. The services mentioned are good individual options, but by bringing several of these together into one place, we feel we have created a more powerful travel-specific tool.
Ok, enough spam from me for now ;) Keep up the good posts.
Peter Daams on 19 February, 2008