If you think shopping in general got easier when the World Wide Web arrived, wait until you see what it's done for the travel industry. Those days of relying on a travel agent, waiting in the airline's reservation line for them to check available flights, or even trying to decipher routes in thick, impenetrable timetables are long gone. A good travel Web site lets you look up dozens of flights at once, compare prices from different airlines, and even pick out your seat on the plane.
Many sites also guide you through booking the hotel reservations and rental cars for your trip. You can also book luxury vacations, cruises, spa trips, and other getaways—and often save money doing so over the Internet. So if you're planning your next vacation or merely dreaming about it in the distant future, buckle up and take a spin through this chapter to see where to go when you want to go.
People plan trips in different ways. Some spend weeks doing meticulous research on the area's attractions, and then schedule events right down to the nanosecond. Other travelers just wake up one Friday, decide to skip work and start the weekend early, and buy a ticket to the cheapest interesting destination—allotting an hour to pack and get to the airport.