“Websites can be invaluable for your business trip,” writes Robin Robertson.

Don’t leave home without it: your online toolkit with its useful websites will be your window to the world. From the comfort of your hotel room, these websites will keep you informed possibly more informed than the locals.

You can start your day with the travel warnings. The official government website is www.dfat.gov.au and lists the countries you should avoid, but not why.

Another, similarly grim website is www.steningsimpson.com.au. Stening Simpson are specialist risk brokers, and they assess political and kidnap risks around the world. Its website also lists country alerts along with why you should stay away. It is essential, but not pretty, reading.

Maps of your city of destination are crucial, and several websites offer street directories of the roads most travelled. Some of these websites will actually draw a route map to your destination.

For overall world coverage, there’s www.multimap.com, mapquest.com or streetmap.co.uk. Australia tends to fall off the edge of these websites, but is picked up by whereis.com.au.

If your business travel is domestic, and you are driving between destinations, then you can’t go past this government website: www.toiletmap.gov.au. This locates public toilet facilities in Australian cities and towns, rural areas and along major travel routes. You can print out the relevant maps before you leave home.

If you are only driving as far as the nearest airport, then you can check out the websites which prepare you for what is to come: the domestic or international flight.

You can view airline meals on www.airlinemeals.net/indexMeals.html. Passengers who went before you have taken photos of what was put in front of them. These photos have been collated into a huge database of what most airlines serve up.

Of course, this will spoil the surprise airlines meals are often a surprise but forewarned is forearmed.

Seat pitches the space between the back of the seat in front to your back rest are listed, airline by airline, on www.travelleronline.com/planner/airnews.shtml.

To check what is on at your destination, try www.whatsonwhen.com. That way, you won’t miss the Voodoo Music Festival at the end of October in New Orleans or the world pumpkin chucking championships in Long Neck, Delaware.

Finally, don’t forget to look in on www.joesentme.com, a business travel site, which could prove to be a useful companion for the strategic business traveller. Its Cyber Concierge alone is worth the visit, let alone its advice to the business traveller on his/her lonely trek away from home.”

Story from the Australian Financial Review (20th November 2003) written by Robin Robertson.