FROM THE TUSTIN NEWS, Thursday, April 11, 2002


Use the computer to fine tune your vacation

It's almost vacation time again and my wife and I are getting ready to take another cruise. Like so many, our planning was done on the Internet but our actual trip purchase was done through our local travel agent.

We decided this year to stay close to home. We had heard about Holland America cruises so our first stop was, the well known Internet search engine. Typing in the words "Holland America" helped us locate the cruise line's web site at Visiting there we were able to select an interesting cruise and get all the pertinent information. Times, ports of call, ship layout, amenities, and cabin selection were all presented on a well laid out web site. Since all the necessary information was there, we picked out the cruise dates that we wanted plus made our cabin selection.

Next, since we had not sailed with this cruise line before, we went back to and looked up "cruise ship ratings." We looked at a number of web sites and got a good reading on the vessel and the cruise line. So far, all looked good.

However, having done a lot of traveling in the past, we were curious about what other people had to say about this particular cruise line and its ships. To get this information we went to the Newsgroups.
Many people aren't familiar with the Newsgroups. They are like big electronic college kiosks. People "post" messages to a particular group and then wait a day or so to get answers to their post. There roughly are 30,000 individual Newsgroups covering almost any interest. To get to the Newsgroups, if you use Microsoft Internet Explorer, go to the "Mail" button and select "Read News." A new window will appear and a listing of Newsgroups will be shown. If you cannot connect to the Newsgroups, call your Internet Service Provider and ask for the settings for the Newsgroup computer in the sky. They will walk you through the setup procedure.

If you are an AOL customer, the Newsgroups can be found by typing the keyword "News.

The Newsgroups have Internet addresses like anything else on the Internet. We selected "" from the list and downloaded the messages. There were nearly 5,000. Perusing the posted messages, we found the information for which we were looking. These messages gave us a lot of insight from other people's experiences. This is the advantage of the Newsgroups.

Next, our Internet planning took us to an airline web site. From it we selected convenient times for our departing and returning flights. Finally we had all the information we needed for our vacation.

So, like ninety percent of Internet travel planners, we took all our data to Marilyn and Guido at the Borges Travel Agency in Tustin and booked our trip. It's interesting to read that 40 percent of the people use the Internet to plan their trips but less than 10 percent actually book online. Like them, we like the personal touch plus the knowledge of experienced travel agents. Marilyn and Guido have helped us for probably twenty years or so. Additionally your travel agent may know of special discounts or incentives, especially if you are a senior.

We're all set to go now and when we return we will tell you all about how we use cyber cafes to check our email when we travel.

If you would like to hear more about Internet travel planning, or other computer topics, visit "Coffee and Computers" at the Tustin Area Senior Center, 200 S. 'C' Street, any Friday morning from 9 a.m. until noon. Bring your questions or just come in and visit.

In the mean time, keep the neurons happy, synapses snapping and enjoy computing.


Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet courses at the Tustin Area Senior Center and the Tustin Adult School. Visit his web site at: This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at:

Return to Doc's Home Page