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Tips to successfully get you where you need to be - fast!

Do you ever get a headache just thinking about navigating the streets of an unfamiliar city? Have you ever booked a hotel in a less-than-great part of town, or been late to an appointment because you can't find a parking garage?

Even the savviest of travelers, who can find their way around a city with their eyes closed, run into travel snafus, sending their blood pressure through the roof. Navigating the streets of a new city can be one of the most stressful parts of booking and taking a trip, whether it's for business or leisure.

So you finally landed and you're on your way to the hotel that you booked in the heart of the city. Everything is going just as you planned. Not so fast! Somehow, you find yourself nowhere near the bright city lights and in a hotel on the outskirts of town where you wouldn't even venture out for a cup of Joe. Sound familiar? Well, you're not alone - more than half of business travelers say they've experienced this very nightmare, according to a recent Bing survey of business travelers.

While finding decent lodging can be difficult, sometimes even thinking about how to get around a city can strike fear into the hearts of business and leisure travelers alike. So which city gets travelers hearts racing when just thinking about how to get around?  Unsurprisingly for anyone who has ever visited either New York or Los Angeles (even just once), both cities topped Bing's survey as the worst cities to navigate. More than 40 percent said "The heck with driving. I'm getting a taxi!" when visiting the Big Apple and a quarter said that the concrete jungle otherwise known as Los Angeles is too wild for them.

So, how can you ensure you know enough about a city to get around like you were a local, book a decent hotel, check out a local concert or find a local hot spot to grab a bite to eat? Well, the folks at Bing have a few tips to make your next adventure stress-free:

* Pay attention to reviews. Most online booking sites offer reviews from other guests who have stayed at the hotel that you're considering. While you may be inclined to take the overly positive reviews with a grain of salt, it's best to steer clear if a hotel receives consistent negative customer reviews.  

* Study up. Check out the local convention center, visitors' bureau or chamber of commerce Web sites to learn more about the city and its surrounding neighborhoods. This will help give you a better idea of what's near your destination and the neighborhoods that surround it.  

* Remember, you get what you pay for. If you're paying a two-star rate, don't expect to get four- or five-star accommodations and a mint on your pillow. A cheaper rate rarely buys you luxury, but you should still be able to score a clean, safe room that provides for your basic needs.

* Hop online. Use online resources like Bing Maps' new Streetside experience, a three-dimensional mapping tool. Just log on to Bing Maps where you can zoom in from satellite level to bird's eye view and even down to street level for 56 major U.S. metro areas.

Now, you can virtually walk the streets of your next adventure with actual 360-degree footage of the area. Not only can you tell if a hotel is in a good neighborhood, you'll be able to see if there's a WiFi coffee shop nearby where you can sync up your computer before your next meeting or scope out any traffic jams before you head out. And, you can even find the nearest parking garage so you're never late again to your lunch date - unlike the more than 40 percent of Bing survey respondents who were fashionably late because they couldn't find a parking spot.  

"Booking a hotel room on the Internet can be a risky proposition if you can't see the room, hotel or area it's in before you book," says Blaise Aguera y Arcas, architect of Bing Maps and MSN at Microsoft. "But technology like Streetside is making it possible to scope out a neighborhood - and ensure it's one you want to stay in - without ever having to leave the comfort of your computer chair." In fact, the Bing survey found that nearly a quarter of travelers rated finding a decent hotel as the most frustrating part of planning their trip.  

Plus, stay up-to-date on the best places to check out on your next trip by using Bing's Twitter mapping app. Now, you can get real-time information about an area - such as seeing the latest tweets for the local shopping mall before you even go there or even updates about local events and breaking news.

Log onto Bing Maps, where you can plan your next trip whether it's a far away city or even your own town. Now, you can be a travel guru no matter where you are.

Courtesy of ARAcontent