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Be prepared to spend hours on this free Web site that serves as an on-line meeting place for travellers, as well as a repository for personal travel stories and tips. Lowdown New visitors to the site can choose to become members by registering a user name, password and e-mail address. Both members and visitors can use a search engine to browse the site's content by destination, user name or keyword.

Members, however, get to create their own Web pages, where they can write about their trips and upload digital photos. There's space for a photo, as well as basic information such as name and birth date. Each member's home page also links to the "Destination" pages they have created for various cities, countries or continents.

Tips, which are provided by other members visiting a destination page, are organized by subjects such as restaurants, nightlife, local customs and tourist traps. The destination pages also include discussion forums and links to members who live in or have already visited that place. Also included is a map accompanied by factual information such as population and land area.

Members can rate each other's tips by accuracy and helpfulness. Each member gets a "VT rank," which is determined by the ratings their tips get. Users can then organize tips by best or newest ratings. Members can also make general comments on all other members' pages. Destination pages link to the top-rated "tip makers" for a particular place, as well as all other tips for that area.

Members also get a free e-mail address, access to a central discussion forum, and they can see who's on-line at any given time and build a list of their member friends. They can also send electronic postcards of any of the photos on the site.

It also has separate pages that provide links to external pages promoting hotels, flights, car rentals and cruises. Practical tools are found on the "Tools" page, which includes links to time, currency and metric converters, as well as a language translator and travel warnings provided by the U.S. State Department. Navigability Searches by destination, member name or keyword are the most efficient ways of navigating through the site and finding specific content, since many of the links on the home page are either vague or overtly promotional. Presentation The pages contain a lot of information but are organized in a manner that makes sense and is not overwhelming. High point What really stands out on this site is the large, involved community it has built, which in turn provides a wealth of travel tips. Low point Certain types of content receive excessive exposure. At the top of each destination page, for example, links to external sites associated with the destination take up about half of the screen. On the Cape Verde page, for example, there are huge links to marginally useful sites about Cape Verde flags, calling cards and radio stations. Bottom line This is an informative and useful site, mainly because its content is supplied by a large community of people who have caught the travel bug.