When I said yesterday that the Internet has had a negative effect on travel writers, it was only with reference to our ability to sell our articles to traditional paper and ink publications, primarily newspapers and magazines. But the information superhighway has also been an enormous benefit, not only to those of us who write about travel but to pretty much everyone. That is the ability to do research and get information about countries and cities to visit, popular attractions, hotels, restaurants, and especially airlines, railways, and other forms of transportation. A holiday can be planned from one’s personal computer, and the process that once took weeks can now be completed in hours.
If, for example, you are planning a vacation in the Mayan Riviera, you can go online, visit the websites of half a dozen travel package providers, and compare holiday prices between them. Other websites let you select various airlines and compare their prices for airline tickets. Companies such as Travelocity, Cheapoair and Expedia have improved to such an extent since they first went online that travel agencies and their agents have suffered.
Prospective travelers who are not looking for an all inclusive or package holiday will, of course, have to do more research than a family who wants to stay in one resort for their entire vacation. But, to my mind, what could be more fun than searching online to find, for example, the best mid-price-range hotels in Prague and the various restaurants that are within walking distance. In the days before the Internet, you had to read about overseas accommodations in guide books and communicate with them by snail mail. Now, in some cases, you can use Google Street View to put yourself in front of them and do a virtual walking tour with a few mouse clicks.
So, for anyone who thought that this writer was slamming the Internet for ruining the business of travel writing, that is not the case. There have been some negative changes, but I don’t think most people would disagree that the positive changes outweigh them.