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46 Travel Tools to Optimize Your Next Vacation

As we bathe in the memory of friends, family and BBQ over this week’s Memorial Day holiday, our minds are now tuned up and ready to hit our favorite travel season – summer.

Let the games begin.

Happiness Factor

Did you know taking a break from it all actually benefits your psychological health?

According to Journal Applied Research in Quality of Life studies have shown the largest boost in happiness comes from the simple act of planning a vacation. In the study, the effect of vacation anticipation boosted happiness for eight weeks.

“Vacations do make people happy,” says Mr. Nawijn, tourism research lecturer at Breda University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands.  “But we found people who are anticipating holiday trips show signs of increased happiness, and afterward there is hardly an effect.”

So Many Apps, So Little Time

While there are literally thousands of online tools and apps to help you plan the perfect retreat, here’s my top 46 list I hope will make your travel season one that’s effortless, fun and filled with great memories.

So get your Pinterest boards rolling and start pinning your next vacation. Perhaps even create a bucket list board to showcase places to want to visit within your lifetime – you’ll be happier for it.


  • Pinterest – No explanation needed here. (Web, iPhone and Android)
  • Trippy – Like Pinterest, but dedicated exclusively to collecting and sharing travel ideas (Web, iPhone)


  • To Do – Powerful set of tools that makes task management simple and fun (iPhone and iTouch)
  • Flight TrackerOnly free flight tracking/flight status app (iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows)
  • Travel Channel Layover – Travel like Anthony Bourdain and explore Tony’s favorite places to stay, eat and drink in 10 major cities around the world. (iPad, iPhone and iTouch)
  • Tripit – Keep all of your travel plans in one spot. (Web, iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows) 
  • Plnnr – Customized point-to-point trip guide for 20 popular urban destinations across North America and Europe. (Web)
  • Award Wallet – Track all your frequent flyer miles in one place. (Web, iPhone, Android)
  • Goby –  Search engine all about finding fun things to do with your free time, from this weekend to a fantastic vacation. (Web, iPhone, Android)


  • Speech Trans – Enables the user to have a coherent conversation with someone who speaks a foreign language without the need for an interpreter. (iPhone and Android)
  • Byki – Take your language learning on the go. (iPhone)


  • Packing Pro – Your very own personal packing assistant. (iPhone, iPad)


  • AirBnB –  See where your friends stay at this global network of accommodations offered by locals. (Web, iPhone, Android)
  • Tripping Touted as the Kayak of Airbnb, provides places to stay and people to meet in 15000 cities. (Web)
  • Jetsetter – Membership only site that provides access, knowledge and exclusive deals at luxury destinations across the world. (Web, iPhone, iPad)
  • Vacationist – Vacationist is a members-only website featuring exclusive sales for stays at fine hotels (Web)
  • Hotel Tonight – Last minute-deals on unsold hotel rooms up to 70% off (Web, iPhone, iPad, Android)
  • Priceline Hotel Negotiator Negotiate up to 60% off with Name Your Own Price and book a room in seconds. (iPhone, iPad, Android)


  • Gas Buddy – Find the cheapest gas on the go. (Web, iPhone, Android, Blackberry)
  • AutoSlash – Book your car and your reservation is automatically updated when better offers or discounts are available. (Web)


  • Kayak Book cheap flights, hotels, vacations and rental cars through top travel companies. (Web, iPhone, Android)
  • HipmunkDisplays real-time prices available on Orbitz, Getaroom,, HotelsCombined, or Airbnb and links out to the appropriate site to close the deal. (iPhone, iPad, Android)
  • FlightTrack Pro Stores and tracks your flights, pulls vital info like gate changes and weather reports for 5,000 airports and 1,400 airlines. Easy to search for other connections while you’re standing in line for the gate agent or even from 30,000 feet. (iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry)


  • Foodspotting – Easiest way to find and share the foods you love. (Web, iPhone, Android, Windows, Blackberry)
  • Yelp – User Reviews and Recommendations, and a quick search interface for address and phone number lookup. (Web, iPhone, Android)
  • Urbanspoon – Uses three factors to classify restaurants: neighborhood, type of cuisine and price. (Web, iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire, Android, Blackberry)
  • VegOut – Must have for any vegetarian who travels or is just looking for a new place to eat (iPhone)
  • OpenTable – Reserve popular restaurants ahead of time to make your vacation meal choices effortless (Web, iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire, Android, WebOS, Windows, Blackberry)

Rain or Shine

  • Weather ChannelWeather forecast, local to international. Plan your day, your week or the next hours. (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows)
  • Weather BugWith its more than 35,000 monitoring stations worldwide, able to provide hyper-local weather updates (Web, iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry)
  • Surf ReportCheck the surf height, swell direction, and tide. Monitor the weather. View a 2-day forecast. (Web, iPhone)


  • WiFi Finder – Search for public Wi-Fi anywhere in the world (iPhone, Android)
  • Skype Wi-FiGet online at over 1 million WiFi hotspots worldwide and only pay for the time you’re online with Skype Credit. (Web, iPhone, iPad, iTouch) 
  • ViberLets you make free phone calls and send text messages to anyone who also has the application (iPhone, Android)


  • XE AppLets you convert every world currency on-the-go. (Web, iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows, Blackberry)
  • Google Wallet – Virtual wallet that stores your payment cards, offers, and more on your phone and online. (iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, Nokia…)


  • Mtrip Travel GuidesTravel guides for with the best attractions, museums, hotels, restaurants, bars & shopping with ratings, reviews. (iPhone, iTouch, Android)
  • iTrailMapIf you’re hitting the southern hemi for some skiing this summer this Trail Maps 3D ski resort trail maps is a must (iPhone, iTouch)
  • Google MapsGet free, turn-by-turn GPS navigation for driving, walking, and public transportation (Web, iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, Windows, Nokia) 
  • Airport Transit Guide – Going 28 years strong, only guide of its kind and the air traveler’s best friend, it gives all the details you need to make an intelligent choice. (iPhone)
  • Gate Guru – Tool to transform the chaotic and unfamiliar airport environment into a more satisfying experience before and after flights, and during layovers. (iPhone, Android)
  • HopStop – Get door to door public transit directions for Subway, Train, Bus, ferry, Bike & Taxi. (Web, iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, Windows, Amazon)


  • Instagram – The $1 billion app and a must have. Keep it real and post your own creations and be conscious not to spam your followers. (iPhone, Android)
  • Facebook CameraAt the time of this writing, it’s already the second most download free app on Apple’s App Store (iPhone)
  • Fastcamera – As soon as you open the app, Fast Camera begins taking 8-megapixel photos as fast as it can and doesn’t stop until you press a button – up to 800 photos per minute. (iPhone)
  • BlurbMake your own books from your photography stable. If you’re good enough you can even sell them. (Web)

Weigh In

What’s your favorite vacation app not listed?

What’s your favorite vacation you have planned this summer? 

Facebook Comments


  1. says

    Great post, but I almost didn’t read it because the “46 Travel Tools…” title made me concerned that it would take too long to read.  I’m constantly surprised how many article and blog post titles reveal a huge list size. I’d be more attracted to a post that promises a small number of fantastic ideas than a huge number of (presumably) okay ideas.
    In the case of this particular post, I think a title like “10 Terrific Travel Tools to Optimize Your Next Vacation” might result in greater readership.  The post could then have thrown in the other 36 tools as an “added bonus.”
    But maybe that’s just me. What does everyone else think?

    • says

       @JohnPohl Hi John. Yes. I actually had a longer list – but that would be just crazy! I thought succinct summaries would help people as well as where they can find them. The sections are obvious…So I figured people could scan and find what may help them best. I found a lot of lists out there that provided their favorite 5-10, but wanted to cover almost anything a traveler might encounter, experience or need. Thanks again!

  2. says

    Thank you so much for this!  I have saved this.  And I downloaded VegOut right away- perfect for a vegetarian in sales!  I also love Onavo- shrinks my data while I am not connected to Wifi.

    • says

       @RebeccaTodd Cool. Thanks Rebecca. Yeah…I wanted to be inclusive as I travel regularly with vegetarians and I thought it would be great future resource. 

  3. tomtrush says

    Great post, Lisa. Last weekend I started using Waze for turn-by-turn navigation. I’m amazed at how accurate it is — looking forward to trying it while driving in unfamiliar areas.

  4. BeckiePorter says

    Great Post! With several trips planned this summer, I will be downloading and taking advantage of several of these apps! Thanks!

    • says

       @BeckiePorter Thanks Beckie! Hope you have a fantastic time. I can’t wait to try a few of these myself. I’ve never used the language interpreter apps. Pretty cool stuff. 

  5. ChrisQueso says

    Informative post… Great list! @MitchJoel mentioned an app called Sit or Squat at Social Slam. It tells you where clean bathrooms are located.

    • says

       @ChrisQueso  @MitchJoel Thanks Chris! Yes…I had that on my list and then I removed it. Wasn’t quite sure where I’d position it on the list. Thanks for adding it here and sharing with our readers. 

  6. CosettePaneque says

    Great list. I’ve got two more for ya. I’ve been using SeatGuru (Web, iOS) for years to see maps of airplanes and help me select the best seats. Postcard on the Run (iOS, Android) sends an actual postcard created from your smartphone’s digital photo. It does the work for you; you don’t have to buy stamps or mail it.

    • says

       @CosettePaneque Those are great ones Cosette. Yes, I’ve used SeatGuru before. Especially helpful to “not” pick seats with limited leg room and that are close to bathrooms. Postcard on the Run! Great mention. I ran across Postagram few weeks back back It has a photo that pops out of the card – perfect for the grandparents or loved one back home! Thanks for weighing in. 

  7. ReinhardLanner says

    I love ! Great Tool where you can send confirmations as pdf, emails and others and this tool structures all your data.

  8. Harry says

    You forgot Tagwhat – mobile tour guide – free for iPhone and Android.  Seriously, this one is about content at places, not just navigation.  They are basically empowering people to geotag their content so that mobile users can enjoy it WHERE it makes the most sense.

  9. Shopgirl2012 says

    You forgot in the shop category Simply Declare. It’s one of my favourite apps, as it keeps track of what I have to declare when I get back to the states. It’s one of my new go to apps for traveling abroad.

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