Brian Bailey Preface to the Revised Edition

Vacation planning via satellite

Here's a fun idea I never thought of until this trip. Why not use the incredible satellite images available through Google Earth, Virtual Earth and others, to help plan a vacation?

You know how hard it is to choose between hotels? So often, you wish you could just drive by your choices - if you were there, it would only take a few seconds to eliminate some of your options. Using the satellite view on most mapping sites, you can get a great look at where you'll be staying. What kind of neighborhood is the hotel in? Is it right on the highway? Is it surrounded by office buildings, shopping and restaurants, or industrial sites? Is the zoo close to the museum, or are they further apart than the addresses would indicate?

Even better, how close is the hotel to the lake or ocean, really? "Walking distance" means different things to people who travel and people who write marketing copy. This sneak peek gives you a much better idea of where you'll be staying. Check out our last two vacation locations...

Last year, we stayed at Hidden Dunes in Destin, Florida, which we loved. Using the satellite view, you can see a lot of things we didn't know until we pulled in late one night - how close the property is to a busy road, stores, condos and other hotels. You can see the tennis courts and the beach that was a short walk away. View the map.

This year, we're staying right next to the Arch in St. Louis. How close will we be? Take a look. You can also see the nearby baseball stadium, but that's the old one. Unfortunately, the images are not always current, so you probably don't want to base your decision solely on this view, but it can be a great help. View the map.