- The Washington Times - Friday, February 22, 2002

How many times have you been given directions to a job interview, a new doctor's office or even a friend's Tupperware party, only to end up frustrated, late or, even worse, hopelessly lost?

Wouldn't it be great to be alleviate that problem? Lots of high-end luxury cars offer in-dash navigational systems. Sometimes they have glitches; I just experienced one that would not allow me to put in the name of my own street.

Usually, these come with a pretty hefty price tag, and my recent experience proves they are only as current as the database, usually a CD or DVD, that comes with them.

If you have access to the Internet, there is solution readily available. Web sites such as MapQuest.com or Tailgaters.net offer turn-by-turn instructions for where you want to travel, along with an overview map all before you leave the house.

And it doesn't matter where you are traveling. I recently used one of these sites to plot a drive from Scottsdale, Ariz., to my home as well as the address for a rental truck office in Scottsdale. I drove straight to the location.

No hassle, no pain, no expense.

Web sites such as these are updated almost continually, so it is usually possible to locate most any address. The convenience factor is obvious, but using such a service before traveling also provides security and safety.

Would-be villains have a way of identifying drivers who have lost their way and frequently target them for scams or worse. A driver who projects an attitude of being familiar with the area is a much less inviting target.

These sites may not be as convenient as an in-dash unit, but what they lack in convenience, they more than make up for in availability and cost savings. All they require is a little planning on your part.

Traveling on vacation with your family and booked one of those heaven-only-knows-where-it's-located motels that is off-site of the amusement park?

Not a problem. Plug in the required information, and print yourself a copy. Then tuck it in your briefcase, purse, glove box or console and travel secure, knowing that not only do you know where you're going but also how you're going to get there.

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