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LIFESAVERS: Five easy-to-use travel websites

9 Dec 2009

These online websites help business travellers to quickly find their footing when overseas.


1. Google Maps with Street Viewer

Target users: This visually oriented map is designed for people with a hopeless sense of direction. It incorporates new features that are easy to manipulate, including a snapshot of the location you need to be at. The geographically challenged traveller is provided a good, 360-degree view of the places in his itinerary, helping familiarise himself with the locations even before his plane touches down. Google Maps with Street Viewer is available in several countries, including Japan, Taiwan and Singapore, with more to be added in the future.

How does it work? After entering the location you wish to preview, drag the yellow human-shaped icon across the map and drop it on the highlighted street. The photo of the street will appear above the map, which the user can then study. Google has taken photographs of the street every 10 to 20 metres, making the map an accurate and reliable reference source.

Why is it useful? Provides images of key landmarks to reach intended destination. What’s more, this latest version of Google maps not only gives street-level imagery but also driving or walking directions.

Link: www.google.com/intl/en_us/help/maps/streetview

2. Jet Lag Calculator

Target users: For travellers who cross time zones, particularly on long-haul flights.

Developed by British Airways with the help of a UK-based sleep expert, Dr Chris Idzikowski, the jet lag calculator provides online advice on the best times to “seek light” and “avoid light” to help reset one’s internal body clock.

How does it work? Enter details into four fields:  your normal waking time, quality of sleep, and the current time in your point of origin and point of destination. Then, click on the “get advice” button.

Why use it? Sleep deprivation can impair judgement and performance that may affect the outcome of the business meetings.

Link: www.britishairways.com/travel/drsleep/public/en_us

3. Mediafire

Target users: For travellers who generate a lot of text documents and multimedia files during trips.

The free file-hosting service lets users can upload unlimited number of files of up to 200MB each into their accounts. Mediafire also gives unlimited storage space for uploaded files.

How does it work? Simply log in and start uploading your projects, documents, minutes of meetings, presentations and other data into your account. Each file has its own unique URL for downloading. If the file is being downloaded by another person, he does not need to register on Mediafire to gain access to the document.

Why use it: Emails have a limit on the size of file attachments. Mediafire allows users to share large documents by simply emailing the links to the intended recipients. Also, business travellers can upload their presentations onto Mediafire as a backup. They can very well travel without their laptop if one is provided at the point of destination.

Link: www.mediafire.com

4. Oanda

Target users: Anyone who needs to convert currencies when travelling.

This online currency converter covers more than 164 currencies. Conversions are made based on the daily interbank rate.

How does it work? Simply choose the currencies and enter the amount to be converted.

Why use it? With Oanda now available for iPhone and BlackBerry, business travellers can now have an easy-to-use online tool for comparing prices/costs while on the go.

Link: www.oanda.com/currency/converter

5. World Taxi Meter

Target users: For those who want to arrive fully prepared. This online tool provides a fair estimate of taxi rates that normally come within US$1 of the actual price, making it a fairly accurate gauge. Currently, it covers 22 cities globally, including in the Asia-Pacific, Singapore and Sydney.

How does it work? On the homepage, select the city from the drop-down menu. Fill in the necessary information in the required fields: point of origin, destination, time of travel, etc. Then, click on the “Let’s go!” button to get the estimated fare that factors in road gantry charges, peak hour surcharges, booking charges and more.

Why use it? It provides a fairly accurate estimate of taxi fares, helping users to avoid being scammed. The results page also provides a map of the intended route to your destination.

Link: www.worldtaximeter.com; www.worldtaximeter.com/m (mobile phone version)

Liu Hongzuo

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