American Map Corp. has debuted an unusual and useful type of road atlas, one specifically designed to help business travelers find their way throughout the country by car.
Unlike most competing publications, the "United States City to City Atlas for the Traveling Professional" includes maps not only of each state and major metropolitan area but also of the major streets and highways in smaller places. Places such as Erie, Pa.; Topeka, Kan.; Eugene, Ore., and Flagstaff, Ariz.
In all, the "City to City Atlas" has maps of the major roads in and around 163 cities.
In addition, the atlas contains 68 detailed maps of the central cores of cities, another unusual feature. You sometimes can use a standard highway atlas to find your way in the heart of cities the sizes of New York, Chicago or Philadelphia. But the "City to City Atlas" helps with downtown-area maps in dozens of medium-sized spots, such as Hartford, Conn.; Little Rock, Ark., and Savannah, Ga.
The "City to City Atlas" has an interesting legacy, according to Dave Fiedler, vice president and general manager of Creative Sales Corp., of Wood Dale, Ill., the American map subsidiary that compiled the publication.
Many of the state and city maps are the same ones that rental-car companies pass out free to customers as they are leaving rental counters. Each single-sheet map, measuring 11 by 17 inches, usually has a map of a city's or region's major streets and highways on one side and a detailed downtown street map on the other.
Creative Sales has published and sold those maps to all the major rental firms for several years, Fiedler said.
"The book started from what we did for the car-rental companies," he said. "Avis was first . . . and then Hertz, and Budget and National and Alamo and some of the smaller companies followed.
"Avis was continually getting phone calls from people who said, 'I go to 15 or 16 or 17 different cities . . . , and it would be better if I could look at maps of them before I went,'" Fiedler added.
Although the state maps in the "City to City Atlas" aren't as large or detailed as those of its competition, including the Rand McNally or American Automobile Association road atlases, the new city map book has several other features that add to its value.
On the inside front cover of the 8 1/2 -by-11-inch book is a list of toll-free telephone numbers for every major airline, car-rental company and lodging chain operating in the United States.
Indexes -- for cities and towns and for streets within cities -- are located on pages adjacent to the maps of the respective cities or towns. In many atlases, indexes are in one location in the back.
And the 352-page "City to City Atlas" has a spiral binding, making it easier for you to fold it back and lay it flat on the car seat next to you as you're navigating your way out of the airport in a strange city. The bindings of most standard road atlases are designed to let you spread the books out but not fold them back on themselves.
The "City to City Atlas" sells for $19.95 in book and office-supply stores.
Residence Inns by Marriott, a nationwide extended-stay lodging chain, has found that, contrary to conventional wisdom, male business travelers get more homesick on long trips than their female counterparts.
In a study that Residence Inns commissioned, about 33 percent of the male travelers surveyed said one of the worst aspects of extended trips -- being away from home for five or more nights -- was that they missed their homes and families. Only 22 percent of the women surveyed said the same.
Among the reasons for the finding may be the fact that 71 percent of the men questioned were married, while 56 percent of the female travelers were married.
The conclusions, based on a series of research projects Residence Inns has undertaken to understand its customers better, also determined that, in general, both men and women preferred extended trips to short ones.
Extended trips can be more interesting, productive and enjoyable and less stressful than shorter trips, allowing for more time to explore new places and escape a daily routine, the travelers reported. In total, 78 percent of the women and 59 percent of the men questioned said longer business trips were a positive aspect of their jobs.
Virgin Atlantic Airways, fighting for business in the face of a slack economy and worry over war in the Mideast, is offering fares of $129 one way and $249 round trip between the New York area and London Gatwick Airport. And the business traveler who must take off on short notice can take advantage of the fares: Tickets can be bought only on the day of, or the day before, a flight.
Virgin Atlantic says the fares will be good for eastbound travel until March 17 and for westbound trips completed by March 22. The fares are good on flights from both the Kennedy and Newark airports.