Can you recommend any good travel websites? I am thinking about booking a holiday to South America but I want to research Argentina and Brazil before I make a choice. Is there a site that does not belong to a travel company? Also, I rely on Visa credit and debit cards when I travel - can you tell me how I can find out how many of these machines are available in my destination, and where exactly they are located?
You're right - it's often hard to find independent online information on travel destinations and you shouldn't have to waste time cutting through travel agents' waffle. A good place to start is the website of the Latin American Travel Association (www.lata.org), which gives detailed information on every country in South and Central America, accessible from a drop-down menu or interactive map. In addition to broad country overviews, the website gives information on currencies, food, festivals and climate variations, along with a good selection of photographs. If, after that, you want to book a holiday, there is a section containing links to a wide range of airlines and tour operators, tourist boards, local tour organisers and hotels.
Lonely Planet's website (www.lonelyplanet.com) is also a good source of information. Its interactive maps are broken down by region, too, so if you're thinking of going to north-east Brazil, there are detailed travel information and maps you can use to plan your trip and make hotel bookings. Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree travel forum is also a good place to get recommendations from other travellers. It's also worth looking at www.ontheroadtravel.com, which offers unbiased recommendations and advice for independent travellers. The website is new, however, and as yet only covers Brazil, Argentina, Guatemala and Peru. Regarding your Visa cards, the website www.visaeurope.com/personal/findacashmachine takes you to the company's "ATM locator". Just type in the city, region and country you are going to and you'll be given a list of cash machines linked to a local map, along with their addresses and opening hours. There's also the option of searching for cash machines at airports. If you are using your mobile phone to access the internet, visit www.visa.com/mobileatm.
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