Cool new websites and blogs

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Itching to hit the road for a few weeks--or months? Then visit Start Backpacking, a website that offers step-by-step advice on how to escape from your cubicle. The site, which launched today, is written for people willing to travel independently for an extended time. It's built by veteran traveler Gregory Rodgers and covers all the basics you need to start "vagabonding."

Now this is an impressive hotel website. The California chain of boutique hotels Joie de Vivre re-launched its website last week, and its new design deserves to win an innovation award. Like a Ron Popeil kitchen gadget ("It slices! It dices!"), the site does everything: Fill out a quiz, and it'll suggest which one of its roughly 30 hotels may most closely match your personality. Curious about the neighborhood where any hotel is located? Then watch one of the site's professionally produced videos about local attractions. Want to make a friend of a fellow traveler? Then look through the profiles of other guests who have visited the hotel. Check it out here.

Las Vegas gets the blogger it deserves. Sin City received its first blogger with a city-wide perspective a few weeks ago when Paul Geary started Las Vegas Is Home. Fans of the city may like this blog's perspective because it riffs on the local news in a casual style. While Sin City receives plenty of coverage for its celebrities and business deals, this blog is unique because it doesn't allow itself to be swept away by the local gusts of hype.

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