Lost is a great TV show, but lost is not a great state of being. How much time is lost on vacation in actually being lost? Or have you ever booked a hotel that seemed like a great buy only to discover when you got there that it was far off the beaten track?

I hate being in the wrong place at the wrong time. What a waste of energy wandering around not knowing where you are, maybe even being afraid if you have stumbled into an unsavory neighborhood. On the first trip my husband and I made to New York City, 20 years ago, that is exactly what happened. We emerged from the subway in search of a comedy club, not having done good subway research, only to find we had no clue where we were. The strange surroundings were scary, making us clip along at an ungodly pace, sweat streaming from every pore. It made us very cranky.

But there is a way to avoid these kinds of situations. It’s called the World Wide Web and it is one of the easiest-to-use tools available to the modern traveler. All you need is a computer and internet access. Through web research, I (not necessarily my husband, but we won’t go into that here) have a good idea of where we are bound long before our plane lifts off.

Take our recent New York City trip, for instance. Who knows, if you are not a New Yorker, whether Battery Park is Upper or Lower Manhattan, the Guggenheim Museum is on the East River or Hudson River side of the island, or that Carnegie Hall is on the north side or south side of Central Park? Well, I do and so can you.

Whatever the location or the tourist attraction, no matter what it is, as long as you know its name or address and the city it’s located in, you can plot your way directly to your goal destination. Here’s what you do:

First use your web browser to go to www.mapquest.com or www.aaccessmaps.com or www.maps.google.com.

Then begin to work on locating your destination. Start as generally as you can. Type in the name of the city and state or province into the search bar. Or click on an appropriate link like New York. Then do something called “drilling down,” zooming in on a more specific area like a street or business.

On Access Maps you can click on a hyperlink taking you to a more specific location, like Upper Manhattan, or use the arrows along the edge of the map to move up or down or sideways. This site also gives a terrific list of places to visit and general information about the area including weather.

On Google Maps , type in the city and then choose to get driving directions or type in something more specific, like a restaurant name. But the best thing to do is to move the left-hand directional bar up so you can drill down (zoom in) deeper into the city. Then use the side-to-side directional arrows to achieve more specific destinations.

On Mapquest using the search bar you can select from the category drop-down list or just type in the name of a restaurant, your hotel or the address of a location. You can zoom in and zoom out and move around your map. In addition, you can custom-design a map showing you how to get from one place to another.

When plotting how to get from here to there, it’s best to start with your hotel. That way you will have a good perspective on the general area and how it relates to the other places you intend to visit. Type in the address or name of the place you intend to go and follow the site instructions.

Don’t get lost down the internet rabbit hole though. Those hyperlinks can be very hypnotic. Be diligent: print your maps as go or you may not be able to find your way back. Be sure to select “printable” when choosing to print from Mapquest . Or simply right click and “print picture” on Access Maps. Google provides a simple “print” option at the top right corner.

Print the most general (zoomed out) map first and keep printing as you drill down; make notes in the margins to help you remember your goal destinations. Use that yellow hi-lighter pen and mark specific areas of importance.

Staple the maps together and keep these handy when traveling. The maps from Google can be trimmed to fit a cheap four-inch by six-inch photo album. Voilà! You will have your very own trip book with detailed maps specific to your interests.

Use mind tricks to memorize general map locations and city layouts; for instance, the Bronx Zoo is closer to Canada while the Statue of Liberty is closer to South America. Or the Guggenheim Museum is on the Atlantic Ocean side of Central Park while Lincoln Centre is on the Pacific side.

Are you a food lover? Then visit the www.foodnetwork.com site and select the Tasty Travel tab. Now select a city. Here you will find great resources for choosing a foreign restaurant including menus, reviews, addresses, phone numbers, and web links. Be sure to print your choices.

About those travel guidebooks and massive multi-fold maps, well, buy them if you must. But the books are too heavy to carry around and the maps are just too annoying to re-fold.

And besides, you will add an exciting dimension to your vacation by taking your trip in cyberspace first.

Alright you survived pregnancy! New mom high five! Now you’ve just got another 12 pounds of wiggle and squirm to tote around and a zillion new errand to run! Not to fret, we’ve got you covered. We’re going to discuss tips and tricks on getting around easily and keeping your baby super close!

Covering the basics with a baby carrier.

For at least a few years you’ll want to keep your baby close as you go about your day outside the home. Errands, shopping and visits to the doctor will have you looking for a way to carry your baby easily. Baby carriers are the evolution of thousands of years of mothering and are still used all over the world in every culture and country. These simple carriers keep your baby close, either in the front or back, while you work, carry groceries, do house work and more. They’re usually made from fashionable fabrics and have strong, adjustable comfort straps so you can wear them for hours. Baby will love being close to you and often drift off to sleep meaning less fuss and fits. Finding a good fitting model is key. Every mom has a different build and each baby a different size means fitting is important. Stopping in a local store can be helpful or talking with other new moms and what’s working for them. Making sure you have a carrier that can grow with your baby is also important as they can be a bit costly upfront, but will last for years if well cared for.

Keeping the vital stuff handy.

You’ll want to keep a few things handy when out and about. You won’t be able to fit all of this in a baby carrier so you may want to get a multipurpose baby bag to carry the important things when on the go!

Diapers

Whether you use cloth or disposable diapers you’ll want to have a few of these handy to be sure you’re ready. Most building have baby changing stations making it easier for moms (and sometimes even dads!) to tackle a change on the go.

Wipes

Baby is going to be messy. Head to toe. Keep your favorite wipes handy so messes are easy to clean up and keep baby happy and tidy.

Binky

For the early years having a pacifier available can help calm baby into a sleep. Having a clean and sanitary place to store a binky is important. Keeping a few spares is also wise since you’ll inevitably drop one…or three. Remember to rinse and clean before putting back in the baby bag! Having a small ziploc bag marked “clean” and “dirty” will make this a bit less chaotic on the go.

Bottle

Keeping baby fed on the go can be challenging. Even breastfeeding moms can find it challenging to find privacy or to have time to nurse. Having a bottle handy will keep baby satiated until you can find a private place. For moms using formula having some formula mixed up ahead of time will keep the headaches of preparation on the fly to a minimum.

Blanket (aka Blanky!)

Having your baby’s favorite blanket at arms reach will ensure nap times are more peaceful and should a stiff breeze come up baby will be warm and happy. Having a spare isn’t a bad idea in case of an unexpected spit up or other accident.

Toys

You can’t be sure when you’ll be caught waiting and suddenly baby has endless energy. Having a few simple to pack toys can make those wait times more engaging and make baby less fussy. Often the best toys don’t make a lot of noise, but engage and entertain keeping baby busy while you work out the wait times. Being on the go as a new mom can be a lot easier with a little bit of planning. Getting a good fitting baby carrier and having the essentials handy in a bag that is always ready to go will have you ready at a moment’s notice to head out the door. Having a simple swap out system for dirty things and empty things will also make it easier to keep your go-bag full and ready. You can find a lot of great advice on baby blogs such as bundleboo.com like the best products to buy, maternity clothing and even just solid tips and tricks.

What to expect on a cruise? Cruise ship lines have turned people-pleasing into a science. But while a cruiser should expect wonderful things on board a cruise ship, sometimes the unpleasant happens, too. Here are 12 things, from a veteran cruiser’s perspective, that are reasonable to expect on the average cruise; both the good and the bad.

  1. EXPENSIVE INTERNET USAGE: Cruise ships have responded to their passengers’ need to access the Web while on board and now provide Internet cafes or cubicles with both wired and wireless Web connections. But this service is VERY expensive.
  2. SEATED WITH STRANGERS: If you are a shy sort you may not like these arbitrary dinner seating arrangements. But you should be prepared to eat with a group of strangers if you want to eat in the formal dining room in the evenings. You can choose your dining time, however. You can also choose to eat elsewhere, like the upper deck buffet.
  3. SEASICKNESS: Expect seasickness. The odds of your ship or its tender boats hitting rocky seas are very high. But if you expect to be seasick, then you can prepare in advance so that you don’t get seasick. The only way to avoid seasickness is to prevent even the first symptoms from occurring with drugs or acupressure wristbands.
  4. FAIRLY DESCENT ENTERTAINMENT: Expect to be entertained. Cruise lines offer huge Broadway-style musical shows, magicians, solo instrumentalists and comedians, in their theaters. Some shows are rather ho-hum, but they do help pass the time.
  5. EXTREMELY CLEAN CABIN: A clean cabin should be at the top of your list of expectations, when cruising. It should not smell and your room steward should keep it sparkling clean, filled with fresh towels and chocolates on your pillows at night; they’ll leave an event sheet outlining the next day’s port and events, too.
  6. LOTS OF FOOD, GOOD FOOD: Food varies from ship to ship, but one thing is certain: there is lots of it. You can expect to see 3-5 different menus during the day in the main buffet. And you will be treated to multi-course gourmet dinners in the main dining room. You can also expect to get food (simpler short order food) round the clock. Chocolate lovers will be pleased to note that on most ships, they can expect a midnight chocolate buffet, too.
  7. INTESTINAL UPSETS: Yes, this occurs regularly on cruise ships, unfortunately. In the worst case scenarios, you can expect you will not be allowed to touch any common foods or help yourself at the buffet. Only plastic-gloved staff will be allowed to lift food to your plate. You should expect to see hand sanitizer machines and bottles everywhere.
  8. COURTESY: Cruise ship staff is extremely courteous. Expect this. On any cruise ship. If you have a complaint, expect courteous assistance at the Purser’s Desk.
  9. SHORE EXCURSIONS: Expect to be well cared for during shore excursions. The ship’s staff is very experienced in hustling travelers to and from the ship. And they do it with great efficiency. You’ll be in good hands.
  10. LAST NIGHT GLAD-HANDING: This happens on the final night of your cruise, when your dining room servers, head waiters and wine stewards, in their efforts to assure tips, fawn all over the passengers, in a most insincere manner. It’s unavoidable, so expect it to take place
  11. DISAPPOINTMENT: Expect disappointment, especially in Caribbean waters where tropical storms occur. You can expect that due to unsafe weather conditions, and for the safety of all onb oard, the captain will decide against visiting a scheduled port.
  12. CRANKY FELLOW PASSENGERS: Expect grumblers. Your ship is carrying hundreds, if not thousands of people with varying levels of travel experience, varying levels of expectations, and varying levels of tolerance. Expect to hear it all when you are on board, from complaints about the dining arrangements to complaints about the weather.
  13. TOURISM GALORE: If you are going on a cruise don’t expect to have an off the beaten path experience. For example, when I traveled to Brisbane Australia (hub of solar energy in the world… click here for info!) we were surrounded by people and tourists 100% of the time. Not bad necessarily, just take it into consideration.

Perhaps the greatest expectation a traveler should have when cruising is that he or she will be waited on, hand and foot. All a passenger must do to get attention on board a cruise ship, is to ask for help. Cruise line management and staff go the extra mile to ensure every passenger’s comfort and safety.