Microsoft Streets & Trips Helps Families Take Affordable and Fun “Staycations”

REDMOND, Wash. — April 7, 2009 — Despite the down economy, many people still plan to participate in the upcoming spring and summer travel season. According to the U.S. Travel Association’s Travel Price Index, in February 2009 motor fuel prices were down 35.4 percent from one year ago. Many people are taking advantage of these lower gas prices and are planning a “staycation,” a close-to-home, often more affordable alternative to traveling abroad or even out of state.

Microsoft Streets & Trips provides people with tools that make it easy to plan the perfect staycation from beginning to end. Streets & Trips is packed with tools that help take the stress out of the typical family road trip. The route-planning feature accompanied by detailed directions and more than 1.5 million points of interest, including hotels, restaurants, national parks and automated teller machines, allows travelers to plan personalized routes for a memorable and fun trip for the entire family. Streets & Trips also comes with a free trial membership to Entertainment® Online,1 which allows travelers to trim expenses by taking advantage of special savings at restaurants, hotels and special events.

Road construction updates, available online at no additional charge, inform users on important local, state, national (U.S.) and international (Canada) construction updates and road closures. Streets & Trips will then create routes that bypass such hang-ups to minimize frustrating delays and unexpected stops.

“Microsoft Streets & Trips is a great tool for families planning to hit the road this season,” said Anne Quaranta, product manager for Streets & Trips at Microsoft Corp. “Whether it’s getting from A to B, avoiding construction, or finding interesting places to stop along the way, Microsoft Streets & Trips helps families plan fun and memorable staycations while saving money.”

Planning Helps Ensure a Smooth Ride

When traveling, the last thing drivers want to encounter is an unexpected situation. Planning the trip ahead of time helps travelers to know what’s around each corner before getting behind the wheel. Here are 10 simple tips that will help get any road trip off on the right tire:

  • Families should make sure the car is in top condition before hitting the road. Getting the oil changed, checking tire pressure and having a mechanic give the vehicle a once-over will help people avoid problems during their trip.

  • Anything can happen out on the road, so travelers need to prepare for an emergency. Bringing items such as a flashlight, road flares, a first-aid kit and water can save families from disaster.

  • Travelers should decide on a budget and stick to it. Before people even leave home, they can develop a trip budget by using the Microsoft Streets & Trips fuel consumption manager, which provides a cost estimate for the trip based on the car’s tank size and mileage per gallon.

  • Make the planning a family affair. Kids will love being involved in the planning process. It’s not only educational, but it also will help parents avoid the dreaded “Are we there yet?”

  • Creating a themed vacation can be a lot of fun for families; for example, visiting all the major national parks in the area, or touring the famous Route 66.

  • Staycationers should always factor in time for fun. By using the customization tools in Streets & Trips, families can plan stops for meals, bathroom breaks, fuel and sightseeing stops.

  • Travelers should bring along car-friendly snacks such as fruit, crackers and cheese sticks. Not only will they have to stop less often, but it also will help save on expenses.

  • To help discourage theft, families should be sure to hide any valuables they need to leave in the car and should always make sure doors are locked and windows are up.

  • Audio books are great, especially for people traveling with children. The stories really help make the time fly.

  • Families should always remember to bring a camera to capture all those memories along the way.

Availability

Microsoft Streets & Trips is a great value at only $39.95.2 Or, check out Microsoft Streets & Trips with GPS Locator, which includes the No. 1 best-selling3 travel and map software in the United States along with a sleek Global Positioning System (GPS) locator for only $69.99.2 In addition, for a limited time, when you purchase Streets & Trips with GPS Locator you can get a free download of Microsoft Money Plus, a value of more than $50. Or give Streets & Trips a test-drive by downloading a free 60-day trial version at http://www.microsoft.com/streets.

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 Entertainment Online offer details: Free trial lasts for 14 days. Trial begins when you sign up with Entertainment Online through Streets & Trips. Valid only in the United States, the District of Columbia and Canada with the purchase of Streets & Trips 2009. You must activate your trial membership before June 1, 2011, to use this offer. Free trial offer is not available to current Entertainment Online subscribers. Additional restrictions apply; see http://www.entertainment.com/microsoftst/info.html for more information.

2 Estimated retail price. Actual retail price may vary.

3 Source: NPD Group Inc./Retail Tracking Service, January 2000–January 2009. Based on total U.S. retail sales.

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