Get a Jump Start on Holiday Travel With Microsoft Streets & Trips

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Fall is just around the corner and so is the stress of holiday travel. As airlines continue to reduce flight schedules and increase baggage fees, taking to the road is becoming an attractive choice for many families. But before planning to hit the roads this fall and winter, travelers should schedule time to plan their trips in advance and equip their vehicles for the cold weather ahead to avoid potentially costly repairs and delays.

Planning a trip ahead of time and building in stops for meals, bathroom breaks, gas, and fun points of interest such as landmarks or museums is a surefire way to make sure everyone in the car has a smooth and enjoyable ride. With 1.7 million points of interest such as hotels, restaurants and national parks, the new version of Microsoft Streets & Trips is a great way to handle every aspect of a trip from beginning to end. With a fuel consumption manager, free road construction updates, and more ways to customize maps and routes, families can save money and time while planning trips according to their preferences. Once the trip is planned, travelers can quickly and easily send their route information directly to their handheld GPS device.(1) They can also share their route information with others; according to the American Red Cross, travelers should provide a friend or loved one with an itinerary for the trip, including the planned route and departure and arrival times. Consumers can use Microsoft Streets & Trips to easily e-mail an itinerary to friends and family — a great tool for communicating trip plans to those sharing the adventure or those waiting to welcome the family home.

Once on the road, spoken street names and Voice-Prompted Directions will smoothly guide families to their destination. If they get off route, Automatic Re-Routing helps consumers get back on track after a wrong turn, which can decrease wasted gas and save valuable time. If they need to make an unexpected stop, the software’s Find Nearby Places feature allows travelers to search a radius up to 50 miles to find select points of interest such as ATMs, hotels, mechanics, pharmacies and more.

"Microsoft Streets & Trips helps travelers be organized while offering flexibility and the convenience of choice," said Lori Stock, senior product manager for Streets & Trips at Microsoft Corp. "It will help travelers plan their vacations from beginning to end. From helping them choose stops along the way, to integrating with their GPS devices, Microsoft Streets & Trips gives consumers the tools to plan enjoyable and memorable family vacations, while avoiding the rush of a busy airport and ultimately saving money."

Preparation Helps Ensure a Safe Ride

Even with the best planning, fall and winter travel brings the potential for foul weather. Whether driving from door to door on Halloween or cruising down the freeway on the way to grandma’s house for Thanksgiving, here are three tips to help you prepare for a safe and happy trip, rain or shine:

  --  Vehicle maintenance is key. A quick check of weather-sensitive systems
      can prevent getting stuck on the shoulder of a snowy mountain pass.
      Check that fluids are at the proper levels and concentrations. A lack
      of coolant or windshield wiper fluid could freeze up travel plans
      before they even start.
  --  Remember that wet roads mean longer stopping distances. Rain, oily
      buildup and wet leaves on roadways greatly increase the amount of time
      required to stop. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
      recommends that tires should have at least 1/16-inch of tread and be
      inflated to manufacturer specifications. Bald or improperly inflated
      tires are no match for a rainy freeway or soggy leaves on neighborhood
      streets.

  --  Pack plenty of supplies. Before leaving, check that the emergency kit
      is stocked and there are plenty of drinks and snacks for all
      passengers. Using Microsoft Streets & Trips to map out gas stations
      along the route will enable quick and easy fill-ups.


  Availability

Microsoft Streets & Trips is available now for an estimated retail price of $39.95.(2) Microsoft Streets & Trips with GPS Locator is available for $69.95.(2) Or give Streets & Trips a test drive by downloading a free 60-day trial version at http://www.microsoft.com/streets/travel.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

(1) Sending information to a GPS device must be done via USB or MSN Direct (subscription required after trial period expires). Separate download of free plug-in may be required. Not all GPS devices are supported. See http://www.microsoft.com/streets/devices for more information.

  (2) Estimated retail price. Actual retail price may vary.

  For more information on Microsoft Streets & Trips:
  http://www.microsoft.com/streets/travel
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