The Smart Traveler

August 12, 2007

REFERENCE POINTS

Road rules

Need some inspiration for your next road trip? Check out the new guidebook, MTV Roadtrips U.S.A. The book is divided into regional themes, such as "A Southern BBQ Roadtrip" and "Cool in the Midwest," with stops in Minneapolis, Denver and Salt Lake City. The guide is also packed with good tips, such as how to get free information for that hotel or restaurant you're hunting down without incurring the $2 charge for calling 411 from your cell phone. The book recommends trying Google SMS -- a beta program that allows you to text a message to 466453 (or GOOGLE) with the name of the business you're seeking and the city and state or ZIP code. Another option the book says is worth trying is calling 800-FREE-411. It uses voice-recognition software, and you must endure a short ad before getting the information, but it could save you a bundle. The book, which sells for $22, is the latest in a series of trendy guidebooks for young travelers produced through a partnership between MTV and Frommer's, an imprint of New Jersey-based Wiley Publishing.

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[ASSOCIATED PRESS]

10 FOR THE ROAD

Best cities

The world's best cities, according to a survey of readers of Travel + Leisure magazine:

1. Florence, Italy 2. Buenos Aires, Argentina 3. Bangkok, Thailand 4. Rome 5. Sydney, Australia 6. New York 7. Udaipur, India 8. Istanbul, Turkey 9. San Francisco 10. Cape Town, South Africa

CHINA

Another record down the pipe

They're flush with pride in a southwestern Chinese city where a recently opened porcelain palace features an Egyptian facade, soothing music and more than 1,000 toilets spread out over 32,290 square feet. Officials in Chongqing are preparing to submit an application to Guinness World Records to have the free four-story public bathroom listed as the world's largest, the state-run China Central Television reported. "We are spreading toilet culture. People can listen to gentle music and watch TV," said Lu Xiaoqing, an official with the Yangrenjie, or "Foreigners Street," tourist area where the bathroom is located. "After they use the bathroom, they will be very, very happy." Footage aired on CCTV showed people milling about the sprawling facility and washing their hands at trough sinks. For open-air relief, there is a cluster of stalls without a roof. Some urinals are uniquely shaped, including ones inside open crocodile mouths.

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[ASSOCIATED PRESS]

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