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Get going with online travel aids

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in Office Technology

Plan trips more easily with these online tools:

• Farecast ( When it comes to shopping around for decent airfare rates, you may as well be staring at listings on the Tokyo stock exchange. “What does it all mean? Is this one a good deal? Or will the price plunge in two weeks?”

Farecast’s “know when to buy” technology compares and filters information from many travel web sites to tell you whether to buy the airline ticket now (fares are bound to go up soon) or wait a week.

And it performs the same trick for hotel rates. Once you’ve found the price that’s right for you, the site sends you packing to the airline or hotel site, so you can book direct.

• Google Maps ( Once again, Google proves its worth with this flexible tool. Start by typing in your destination and using the satellite view to scope out the area.

Check out reviews of hotels, restaurants and attractions in the area. Then plan and save your itinerary.

Here’s how: Click on “My Maps,” create a new map and add place markers (with photos) that show where you’re going. You can even post a link to others, so they can “collaborate” on the itinerary.

• InsideTrip ( What’s most important to you when traveling: price, speed, comfort or ease? This online tool allows you to rate each factor.

Example: You may care most about the number of stops made and not so much about an airline’s “Lost Luggage Rank.” InsideTrip ranks flight options based on your preferences, making it easier to find the perfect fit.

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