Everyone knows about the big travel sites, but sometimes smaller, under-the-radar resources sure come in handy--or they're at least fun for a laugh.
Seven sites that are actually useful...
A color-coded map shows which U.S. airports are experiencing delays. One Friday afternoon, Las Vegas was yellow (16- to 30-minute delays), Chicago Midway was green (no waits), and Philadelphia was orange (delays due to weather). Real-time updates are also available via pager, phone, PDA, and e-mail.
The one-stop shop for everything travel-size: shampoo, toothpaste, mouthwash, laundry detergent. There are plenty of items for snacking on the go too, including single-serving boxes of Froot Loops (52¢ each), nine-gram packets of Heinz ketchup (6¢), 3D8-ounce containers of Carnation Coffeemate Amaretto creamer (14¢), and individual bags of Twinings of London Earl Grey tea (15¢).
Detailed info on airline seats--recline, legroom, laptop jacks, and where the view of the movie is obstructed--that's submitted by actual travelers. Passengers on AirTran's 717 should know ahead of time that seats in row 20 don't recline, and because they're near the engines, rows 28--30 are loud and don't offer much of a view. Row 31 is probably the worst: no windows or reclining.
The Transportation Security Administration lists the expected wait at security checkpoints. Clearing security at the Delta entrance at Terminal D in New York City's LaGuardia takes an average of 19 minutes (but can stretch up to a maddening 41) for flights leaving at 7 a.m. on a Monday. At noon, however, the wait is generally less than a minute.
Listings from more than 5,000 wine stores around the world make it easy to locate (or buy online) that sauvignon blanc you loved in Chile. The site also reveals what wines cost. That snazzy bottle of Vin de Pays des Côtes de Pérignan 2000 your buddy brought home for you from France? It only set him back $6.
Monthly averages of temperature and rainfall for almost anywhere. In Cuzco, Peru--gateway to Machu Picchu--the temperatures are in the 50s year-round. But the city receives about six inches of rain in January and less than half an inch per month from May to August. That's important info if you plan on hiking.
Fills you in on what time it is in Beijing (or anywhere else around the globe) and spots that do and don't observe daylight saving time. It's also a wealth of quirky tidbits, like the fact that Australia has both vertical and horizontal time zones in the summer, and that, depending on the time of year, Rio de Janeiro might be one, two, or three hours ahead of Boston.
And seven perfect for goofing off
Photos and reviews of in-flight meals served by more than 300 carriers, as well as vintage pics from over the past half-century. There are also recommendations on where to eat while you're waiting to get on the plane--such as a noteworthy offshoot of the popular downtown restaurant La Brûlerie St.-Denis in the main terminal at Montréal-Trudeau Airport.
Job listings for seasonal employees--waitstaff in Ibiza, nannies in England's Lake District--that are perfect for daydreamers. Anglo-Hellenic, a language school with branches all over Greece, pays staffers at least $600 a month for teaching basic English to kids, with lodging and health insurance included.
A collection of humorous ways English is mangled around the world. In Japan and other countries, nonsensical English words and phrases are placed on T-shirts, candy wrappers, and shop signs often only because they look cool. That's the only explanation for the Crack Sandwich, available in Asian supermarkets. As far as we can tell, it's a kind of cookie, not a new way of ingesting illegal drugs.
Guests write in about their night in "hotel heaven" or "hotel hell," and there's plenty of gossip about which celebrity checked in where and with whom. Where else would you read about how Melanie Griffith was cluelessly wandering around Toronto, unable to find the hotel she was staying in--even after several people had pointed her in the right direction?
Australian English is much earthier than anything in Crocodile Dundee. Being stonkered, as full as a goog, off your face, or having the wobbly boot on all mean the same thing: You're drunk. (Note: Not suitable for kids, unless you're OK with them asking you about shark biscuits or having a naughty.)
How to survive a night in the terminal, from people who've done it. Singapore's Changi has comfy seats, Internet cafés, prayer rooms, a spa, and even a pool and free movies. Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, on the other hand, was where one contributor saw seven people killed in a gang shooting.
What's good--and what's disgusting--about some 8,000 public bathrooms in more than 100 countries. Golden Plunger awards go to the world's nicest lavatories, including ones at Hong Kong's 3-D Gold Store, home to a solid-gold toilet, and New York City's Bar 89, where the glass stalls automatically turn opaque for privacy when you lock the door.