Travel gear and gadgets for when you're on the go


This collection of gadgets, gear and apps helps travelers cope.

AllStays Camp and RV app

NAME AllStays Camp and RV app COST $9.99
(Credit: )

NAME AllStays Camp and RV app

COST $9.99

COMPATIBLE WITH iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, requires iOS 5.1.1 or later; Android 4.0.3 and up

WHAT IT DOES This comprehensive app helps campers find everything from tents and RV resorts to rest areas and inclines.

WHAT'S HOT Browse through information on your phone, where you can store the map you create. You can tailor your camping destinations: Maybe you want to stay at independently owned campsites near Denver that are pet-friendly and have laundry facilities and cost less than $35 a night. AllStays filters your specifications and gives you the various possibilities, along with photos of the campsites. The app points you around bridge clearances and steep road grades not only to those camping sites, but to Costcos and Walmarts that allow overnight parking. Subscribe to AllStays Pro ($29.95 a year) and you can add features including ghost towns, RV washes and more.

WHAT'S NOT The price is high, but you'll get your money's worth of information.-- The Mercury News (TNS)

ChefsFeed app

NAME ChefsFeed app COST Free COMPATIBLE WITH iPhone,

NAME ChefsFeed app


COMPATIBLE WITH iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, requires iOS 9.0 or later; Android 4.1 and up

WHAT IT DOES If you're hungry to find the best restaurants in 150 towns and cities around the nation, this app's for you.

WHAT'S HOT ChefsFeed is way more sophisticated than Yelp, as all the recommendations come from highly regarded chefs sending you to places where they like to eat outside their own kitchens. Seeking a Dungeness crab roll? Look no farther than Fish in Sausalito, California. The porcini flan at Bouley in New York City sounds divine, and the Liege waffle -- served with pearl sugar and warm salted caramel sauce at Boston's Saus restaurant -- sounds like a sweet way to start the day or wrap up dinner.

WHAT'S NOT The app is strong on recommendations in big cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, but doesn't offer much in the way of rural food discoveries.-- The Mercury News (TNS)

Travelon Toiletry Sheets

NAME Travelon Toiletry Sheets, COST $10 for

NAME Travelon Toiletry Sheets,

COST $10 for a set of two containers

WHAT IT IS Each plastic container includes 50 biodegradable toiletry sheets in six varieties: hand soap, laundry soap, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream and body wash.

THE GOOD Using these sheets, you won't need to worry about carrying liquids and wondering whether they'll meet those pesky TSA regulations. Just use the sheets for handy hand washes or a quick shave. With the shaving sheets, for example, put about three under water and watch them dissolve to create a foamy lather. For laundry, drop one to four sheets in a sink filled with water, then rub the soiled articles in the soapy mix and watch the stain disappear.

THE BAD The laundry soap sheets can stick together, so be careful not to grab more than you need.-- The Washington Post



Sky Guide app

NAMESky Guide app COST$2.99 COMPATIBLE WITH iPhone, iPad
(Credit: Sky Guide app)

NAMESky Guide app


COMPATIBLE WITH iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, requires iOS 9.0 or later

WHAT IT DOES This app gives you an augmented-reality view of the night sky as a complement to your stargazing on desert excursions or at other stellar vacation spots.

WHAT'S HOT Say you're looking at a bright point on the horizon and want to identify it. Just point your phone at that portion of the sky, and you will be shown a labeled map of what you are observing: that bright spot on the horizon -- as well as planets, stars, constellations and galaxies. Zoom in and out for a better view of the virtual sky on your phone, then look up and match what you're seeing to the actual phenomena.

WHAT'S NOT It's not free, but at least the price isn't astronomical.-- The Mercury News (TNS)

Roadtrippers app

NAME Roadtrippers app COST Free COMPATIBLE WITH iPhone, iPad

NAME Roadtrippers app


COMPATIBLE WITH iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, requires iOS 9.0 or later; Android

WHAT IT DOES You build your itinerary and map on the associated website (, then sync the information to your phone and proceed, gleaning tips along the way. You can choose among burgers and barbecue joints, visit museums, attend a bluegrass festival and more. You can share your itinerary with travel buddies and download your itinerary as a PDF on your phone.

WHAT'S HOT Enter a destination and Roadtrippers will give you the trip's distance, the estimated cost of gas and the traveling time. Once you're in motion, follow Roadtrippers to offbeat destinations along the back roads near where you're traveling. Aside from food and drink, cultural attractions and night life, Roadtrippers directs you to outdoor recreation destinations, vacation rentals, camping sites, shopping and more.

WHAT'S NOT Some locations look like they haven't been updated in a couple years.-- The Mercury News (TNS)

NAME WHAT IT DOES Book discounted hotel


WHAT IT DOES Book discounted hotel rooms around the world online using this free website. Listings include hotels, B&Bs and some condos. You can also book entire vacation packages.

WHAT'S HOT Thanks to good old traditional television advertisements, we all know Captain Obvious, the bearded mouthpiece of This hotel discount website has risen above others in that it now offers rewards -- a free night for every 10 booked through -- and provides access to home rentals as well. Plus, if there's a problem with your room, you have recourse: In most cases management will respond right away.

WHAT'S NOT There are a slew of other discount hotel sites, some with lower rates in some instances than Malerie Yolen-Cohen, Special to Newsday



WHAT IT DOES This is a consummate online hotel, restaurant and event directory for people who travel with dogs.

WHAT'S HOT is a simple and fetching (sorry) way to bone up on pet policies in lodgings, on airplanes and in public areas, with information and one- to five-bone reviews of more than 25,000 hotels, B&Bs and campsites around the world. There's no cost to book through the site, which guarantees the "Best Rate Available." The site even donates a portion of the proceeds to dog charities and humane societies because, well, they love dogs. In case of emergency -- the need for an animal hospital at 4 a.m., perhaps -- BringFido has a toll-free number you can call 24/7.

WHAT'S NOT Location search algorithms are not perfect. A search for events in Stamford, Connecticut, returned information about dog parties on Long Island..-- Malerie Yolen-Cohen, Special to Newsday

NAME WHAT IT DOES The easy-to-use website


WHAT IT DOES The easy-to-use website curates the best of family travel blogs for tips, advice, information and inspiration.

WHAT'S HOT The site is stocked with important articles about allergies, vaccinations and more, and is particularly helpful for new parents and families. Find articles such as "Six Tips for Surviving Airline Travel With a Baby" and "Flying With an Infant: Long-Haul." The Tips section aims to relieve stress with articles such as "How to Get Your Kids More Excited About Vacation" and "Advice From Seven Years of Traveling With My Kids." Don't miss the Educational Resources section for activities and games, photography tips, printables and more.

WHAT'S NOT The Destination section is divided into North America, Africa, Asia, Europe, South America and Oceania. There are plenty of posts within each, but the section could benefit from a city directory or a map of articles within.-- Los Angeles Times



Discover L.A. app

NAME Discover L.A. app WHAT IT DOES It
(Credit: Discover L.A.)

NAME Discover L.A. app

WHAT IT DOES It points travelers to local events and the best places to stay or eat. Build your own "Passport" by "liking" items with the heart icon. The diverse options in the "Do" section include "Find Hidden Bars," "Hardcore Hikes," "Elvis Presley's L.A." and more.


COMPATIBLE WITH iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, requires iOS 8.0 or later; Android 4.4 and up

WHAT'S HOT Don't miss the "Scavenger Hunt" with the pin and map icon in the lower left corner of the app. Check in at 16 ice cream hot spots and unlock stamps for your personal passport. First-time visitors to Los Angeles can click on the notes board in the lower right section of the app for practical advice such as a beginner's guide to L.A., Metro map and driving tips.

WHAT'S NOT It's hard to sort the hotel search results by star rating or price.-- Los Angeles Times

NAME WHAT IT DOES Jason, your friendly


WHAT IT DOES Jason, your friendly host and urban explorer, recounts each city's history by walking the viewer to points and places of interest.

WHAT'S HOT The videos are short, informative and easily digested by an armchair traveler who wants to visit curious corners, bars, architecture, colorful historic hotels, bookstores, street art and more. A trail map at the bottom of each video outlines which stories are next on your visual meander through the city. If you love history or are interested in the stories behind popular street murals in Venice Beach, painted caves in Rome or an 18th century New York tavern, this site's for you.

WHAT'S NOT It was difficult to scroll horizontally through the videos for a given place, such as San Francisco's Chinatown. The trail map tells you which video is next, but clicking on it doesn't take you to the video.-- Los Angeles Times

Dipp travel app

NAME Dipp travel app WHAT IT DOES Lets
(Credit: Dipp L.L.C.)

NAME Dipp travel app

WHAT IT DOES Lets you explore cities and things to do by thumbing through a curated collection of Instagram photos. After you download Dipp, log in to your Instagram account and use the search icon to look for inspiration in a specific location, use the current location symbol to see what's trending near you, or click on the current location symbol to toggle over to a friend's icon to see their Instagram photos organized by city.


COMPATIBLE WITH iiPhone, iPad and iPod touch; requires iOS 9.0 or later

WHAT'S HOT If you see an image you like when looking at the cities section or exploring a location on your own search, click on the bucket to add it to your bucket list. Go to your profile to access your full bucket list after you've accumulated daydream-worthy destinations.

WHAT'S NOT There is no way to check whether all of the images are getting into your "Explore" feed.-- Los Angeles Times

Lewis N. Clark’s WaterSeals Magnetic Waterproof Phone Pouch

NAME Lewis N. Clark's WaterSeals Magnetic Waterproof Phone

NAME Lewis N. Clark's WaterSeals Magnetic Waterproof Phone Pouch, available at

COST $29.99

WHAT IT IS A waterproof pouch that will allow you to bring your phone to the beach, on a boating trip or even snorkeling.

THE GOOD Place your cellphone into the clear, waterproof sleeve and you'll hear two bands of automatic magnetic closures click shut like a prison door. The transparent pouch lets you listen to music, play a game and watch a video as if you were still a land dweller. The product claims to protect phones at depths up to 100 feet, so you can take a selfie with a deep-sea creature or get the digits of the dashing scuba diver in the nearby coral reef.

THE BAD You will have to be daring and trusting enough to put your phone in the water.-- The Washington Post

NAME WHAT IT DOES More than 200


WHAT IT DOES More than 200 contributors work with the Maptia team to produce stories from more than 100 countries to cultivate awareness of social, environmental and cultural issues.

WHAT'S HOT Readers who crave more than a family vacation itinerary or a quick city guide to hot spots will find that Maptia satisfies a thirst for armchair exploration. Delve into Maptia through four main features: "Journeys" takes you on a mini-adventure with seven stories emailed to you over seven days; "Places" links to select stories by country or continent; "Channels" allows you to follow stories that matter most to you; and "Editors' Picks."

WHAT'S NOT The tags that accompany the stories -- such as "thought provoking," "heartwarming," "adventurous" and "remarkable" -- get your attention, but if you liked a story, you can't click those tags and be taken to similar stories.-- Los Angeles Times



NAME WHAT IT DOES The website collects


WHAT IT DOES The website collects niche travel providers who offer experiences that are of interest to adventure seekers. Categories include Adventure, Events, Foodies, Off the Beaten Path and Sightseeing.

WHAT'S HOT If you thought the site's photo galleries sell the tours, have a look at the video trailer on its Facebook page. The more itineraries you find (be a winemaker for a day in Italy, take an arctic surf lesson in Norway), the more you'll want to add to them to your bucket list, which you can create on the site. The prices for these adventures are reasonable, and there are easy-to-use share buttons for Facebook, Twitter and email if you want to grab the attention of your travel partners.

WHAT'S NOT This is a startup company, so be patient while it works out the kinks.-- Los Angeles Times

Tasteful app

NAME Tasteful app WHAT IT DOES Helps travelers

NAME Tasteful app

WHAT IT DOES Helps travelers with dietary requirements or food sensitivities find places to eat with a database of restaurants that have healthful dishes in 8,000 communities across the United States.

AVAILABLE Apple Store. Requires iOS 8.2 or later. Compatible with iPhone, several iPad models and iPod touch. On Google Play. Requires Android 4.3 and up.


WHAT'S HOT In the "My Food" section you can include or exclude up to 19 types of food, such as meats, shellfish, eggs, grains, gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, fried food and soy. You can also check off that you either eat everything or follow a vegetarian, vegan, paleo, gluten-free or low-carb diet. Click "Lets Eat" to scroll through restaurants near you and see reviews. Tap "Restaurants" and you can see recommendations with "open now" labels. You can get recommendations for breakfast, lunch, dinner, takeout, Mediterranean and other options while searching within your diet.

WHAT'S NOT The app was a little slow sometimes.-- Los Angeles Times

Maven app

NAME Maven (for specifics, go to WHAT
(Credit: Brian Kersey for Maven)

NAME Maven (for specifics, go to

WHAT IT IS A car-sharing app with no membership fee.

COST Rentals start at $13 per hour (plus tax) for compact cars.

COMPATIBLE WITH iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, requires iOS 8.0 or later; Android 5.0 and up

THE GOOD Need to get out of town but can't take the train? Maven allows you to rent a vehicle from compact to luxe to SUV, or even the electric car of your choice (the hourly fee includes insurance and gas) for 30 minutes to 28 days. Maven operates in 17 U.S. cities, including New York, where you can find a ride in 25 of the city's garages. They'll unlock and start the car directly from the Maven app on your phone.

THE BAD New York City has restrictions on the number of miles you can drive per day, and some cities do not allow drop-off at another site.-- Malerie Yolen-Cohen

NAME WHAT IT DOES This no-frills online


WHAT IT DOES This no-frills online tool offers travel inspiration. The front page has three settings: What months do you want to travel, how far away from home would you like to go, and are you looking for colder or warmer weather? Set your choices and click the play button. Recommendations are sent in the form of travel photos from Instagram. Click the arrows to cycle through photos of its destination suggestion.

WHAT'S HOT The recommendations tap into the travels of Instagrammers (look for their handles in the top left corner of their photos). Allow the site to access your current location when the pop-up box asks. Your destinations will be more accurate and you'll get more detail information and pictures and even a calendar of temperatures.

WHAT'S NOT The "how far away from home you want to travel" setting can be finicky if you try changing from your current location to your home location.-- Los Angeles Times

BendyMan Flashlight + Table Stand

NAME Walter + Ray's BendyMan Flashlight + Table

NAME Walter + Ray's BendyMan Flashlight + Table Stand, available at

COST $10

WHAT IT IS This bendable little guy can be contorted to act as a stand for your tablet, phone, e-book or other portable device.

THE GOOD BendyMan's flexible body parts move like Gumby's; with a tug on the arm and a bend in the waist, he becomes a stand for smaller electronics and reading material. (Similar to an ant, he can carry more than his body weight.) You can attach him to the seatback tray on the plane or, if you have a middle seat, place him on the armrest. He will protect your personal space from elbow invaders. BendyMan also acts as a flashlight with lights that shine through his eyes. Lightweight and easy to pack, he also comes in four colors (green, turquoise, black and pink).

THE BAD Where's the BendyWoman?.-- The Washington Post

NAME WHAT IT DOES Provides moms and


WHAT IT DOES Provides moms and dads with a list of kid-friendly activities and resources that can be fine-tuned to fit the ages and interests of their children.

COST Free with in-app purchases

COMPATIBLE WITH iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, requires iOS 7.0 or later

WHAT'S HOT It's splendid to search for kid-friendly activities and attractions that suit the children's interests and ages. Tap your current location or pick a new one, choose a time frame and the type of recommendation you want from the available icons (animals, educational, nature, show, food, etc.), adjust according to age, weather, season, cost, duration and more, then click "Search" to see your results. Sign in with Facebook, Twitter or your email address..

WHAT'S NOT Clicking on the "Near Me" button sometimes takes you to the map of the last destination you searched. Go back to the main page and select "Current Location" or hit the "Clear" button to reset.-- Los Angeles Times

NAME WHAT IT DOES The website is


WHAT IT DOES The website is a simple plug-and-play travel planner (with iOS and Android apps coming soon) that can organize trips for you and your group.

WHAT'S HOT Search your destination for flights, activities, food and hotels. Your search results will appear as photo cards with price tags (where applicable). Drag and drop them into individual dates on your itinerary or click on the card to move and prioritize its placement. Ready to book? Click through to the booking partners and make your itinerary come true. You can schedule your day with places to eat, sleep and play and can involve multiple users in the planning.

WHAT'S NOT Clicking on the "Choose your room" link when researching hotels will take you to, which only sometimes connects to the hotel. Direct access to room selection, or the correct hotel, would be desirable. -- Los Angeles Times

GSI Outdoors' Glacier Stainless Nesting Red Wine Glass

NAME GSI Outdoors' Glacier Stainless Nesting Red Wine

NAME GSI Outdoors' Glacier Stainless Nesting Red Wine Glass, available at

COST $14.95

WHAT IT IS A stainless-steel drinking vessel rugged enough to take on a camping trip.

THE GOOD Suppose a bear interrupts your wine-and-cheese party after a hike and you still have a few sips left in the goblet? You don't want to chug it, nor do you want to toss the precious liquid on the ground. Instead, unscrew the stem, flip it upside down and snap the bottom over the opening of the glass. You now have a spill-resistant cup that will allow you to run for your life and toast your survival with the remaining vino. The glass holds 15.2 ounces of wine. It also packs easily.

THE BAD Despite its name, here's hoping you can also use it for white wine.--The Washington Post

NAME WHAT IT DOES The website combines


WHAT IT DOES The website combines one couple's love of cooking and their life outdoors and on the road. Discover recipes, campfire cooking gear, how-to guides and captivating photos of Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, New York, Oregon, Utah and West Virginia.

WHAT'S HOT If your campfire cooking leaves something to be desired, this site will catapult your culinary efforts to new heights. The Guide section has articles such as "A Guide to Arizona Hot Springs," while the Recipes section offers dishes such as Dutch Oven Campfire Lasagna, Date and Desert Honey Breakfast Polenta and Southwest Sweet Potato Bean Burger. The printable recipe cards at the bottom of the food posts are generous and helpful. Don't miss the Shop section, where you can find tools needed to re-create the meals they cooked outdoors.

WHAT'S NOT If you want to search the site by location, you must look at the right sidebar of the Guides section.--Los Angeles Times

Klook Activities & Attractions

NAME Klook Activities & Attractions WHAT IT DOES

NAME Klook Activities & Attractions

WHAT IT DOES and app introduce you to attractions, tours, activities and more. Booking is easy, with destinations in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, Japan, South Korea and Oceania. There also are a few metro hubs in Europe as well as New York and Dubai.

COMPATIBLE WITH iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, requires iOS 8.0 or later; Android 4.0.3 and up.


WHAT'S HOT Explore destinations by city, topic or designation including what's trending, most popular and new activities. Each destination has categories specific to the area such as a sunrise breakfast atop the volcano Mount Batur in "Lover's Paradise" in Bali (marked down from $319 to $225). New funding indicates expansion in Australia, Europe and North America.

WHAT'S NOT Take the itinerary planning with a grain of salt. All you'll get are suggestions for activities to buy but little in-depth information.--Los Angeles Times

NAME WHAT IT DOES The website acts


WHAT IT DOES The website acts on your behalf to obtain compensation for you if your flight was delayed, canceled or overbooked within the past three years. It is based on a European law for European airspace. You are charged a fee only if you are compensated.

WHAT'S HOT Even if you don't keep your boarding passes, AirHelp will check your email for flight information going back as far two years ago. The amount of compensation depends on whether your flight was delayed or canceled or if you were denied boarding. It also depends on which airline you were flying and its country of origin. See the website's "Know Your Rights" section for details..

WHAT'S NOT The pop-up box to chat or ask for help wasn't instant, as on some websites. Instead, try using the email addresses and phone numbers listed on the Contact Us page.--Los Angeles Times

NAME Doris and Dicky WHAT IT DOES The

NAME Doris and Dicky

WHAT IT DOES The site offers a collection of 500-plus independent hotels packed with charm in cities around the globe. Most properties have 20 rooms or fewer and a price tag of about $125 a night.

WHAT'S HOT There are valuable travel tips hidden within articles in the Blog/News section. "Top 5 cheap weekend boutique city breaks in Europe" leads to generous on-the-ground travel information. Doris & Dicky is on the lookout for new hotels, so keep your finger near the refresh button on "New hotels and recently reviewed properties," found on the home page. It aims to find something a little extra special in accommodations, be it spectacular views, a beachfront location or cultural highlights.

WHAT'S NOT With all the design elements these boutique hotel rooms have, it would be nice to have an accompanying shopping feature on the site for purchasing pillows, art and more.--Los Angeles Times

Texture App

NAME Texture app WHAT IT DOES It's an

NAME Texture app

WHAT IT DOES It's an all-access pass to more than 200 magazines.

COMPATIBLE WITH iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, requires iOS 8.0 or later; Android, and Amazon 4.1 and up.

COST Free for 14 days, then $9.99 a month

WHAT'S HOT You can access hundreds of magazines on as many as five devices per subscription. The magazines cover numerous topics such as travel, sports, news, women's lifestyle, food and more. Travel magazines offered include Afar, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, Sunset and Southern Living. One of the app's selling points is the access to back issues, such as three years of National Geographic Traveler. Choose magazines that you'd like to follow to create "My Library," then download them on Wi-Fi to access later offline.

WHAT'S NOT Avoid device storage problems by going to the Settings section and adjusting your "Storage" to use more or less space depending on your appetite for reading offline.--Los Angeles Times

NAME WHAT IT DOES The website and


WHAT IT DOES The website and app let you compare and book ground transportation in North America and more than 1,000 cities across Europe.

WHAT'S HOT European train travel is romantic, adventurous and affordable. But finding the best, let alone cheapest, route can be intimidating and time-consuming. Wanderu simplifies the experience by offering cues such as company logos, Wi-Fi and electrical plug-in icons, and filters (cheapest, shortest, earliest, latest and more). A bus from Frankfurt to Prague was only $30 each way. Another from Barcelona to Milan was $42. Wanderu's new European feature saves plenty of research time and can help you book transportation almost two months in advance.

WHAT'S NOT Wanderu didn't have train routes for central and southern Spain. Go to the European launch page and use the "Wanderu in Europe" map to keep an eye on which destinations are available.--Los Angeles Times

NAME WHAT IT DOES How much money


WHAT IT DOES How much money does it take to live abroad? Indicate your monthly budget, family size, accommodation size and location, your style of living, drive rate and pollution preference, and The Earth Awaits will suggest places. See a gallery of destinations, save favorites, view ratings and check a general cost breakdown. Memberships range from free to $6 a month for increased data to $48 annually.

WHAT'S HOT Can a family of three live in a two-bedroom apartment in Europe for $3,500 a month? You bet. Browse destinations and sort cities by internet download/upload speeds. To search within a specific continent, use the filter to narrow your results. Do an advanced search to sort according to quality of life, budget, language, health care and more.

WHAT'S NOT Cost breakdowns are general. For specifics such as the cost of an apartment by size in your city of interest, click on the Budget section on the main page for your destination.--Los Angeles Times

Radio Garden

NAME Radio Garden WHAT IT DOES The website

NAME Radio Garden

WHAT IT DOES The website has an interactive map of Earth that lets you tap into radio stations around the world in real time. It also recounts listeners' stories about how they've used radio to make themselves at home in the world.

WHAT'S HOT Take an auditory journey to India, Cuba, Australia, Uganda or across the United States. Click on the "Live" button to navigate around the globe, then scroll in or out on the map. Tap on the "green dot" radio stations that are transmitting. The right side of the screen will show your radio station choices within that destination.

WHAT'S NOT There are no countries named or outlined on the map. You must know where a city or country is and scroll over to that part of the globe before the name will appear on the screen. -- Los Angeles Times

NAME WHAT IT DOES The website uses


WHAT IT DOES The website uses private chat tools to reveal low hotel rates usually found on opaque travel inventory sources such as Priceline and Hotwire. Start at, select a destination and travel date, click on how you'd like to see your hotel deal (SMS or Facebook Messenger) and get instant results.

WHAT'S HOT SnapTravel partners with, Expedia,, Sabre, Amadeus, Priceline and other top hotel inventory providers. It also sources deals directly with hotels to bring you incredibly low rates. The website offers "Discounts up to 50 percent at 200,000+ hotels worldwide with messaging only pricing." Users can filter their deals by savings, hotel rating or price as well as adjust their maximum budget.

WHAT'S NOT Be careful with your smartphone notification settings. If you're searching for destinations for a last-minute weekend getaway, your phone might buzz like crazy with alerts.


NAME Pixinote WHAT IT DOES The app prints

NAME Pixinote

WHAT IT DOES The app prints and sends a card with a square image and three lines of text to the recipient within two to seven business days.

COMPATIBLE WITH iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, requires iOS 8.0 or later

COST Free to download, $2.50 a card

WHAT'S HOT Pixinotes are printed on quality paper and look great. There's also a cute airmail-themed envelope. The app simplifies sending a postcard because first-class "Forever" postage is included. It also keeps track of addresses and can write a note about what you've been up to. Especially cool is the "Create Contact" tool: Start typing your recipient's address and Google will finish it for you. The app keeps track of previous contacts (and Pixinotes) and lets you send the same note and message to multiple people.

WHAT'S NOT If you're sending a note from your family, choose a profile picture and handle that represent your group instead of one person. --Los Angeles Times

NAME WHAT IT DOES Its meta search


WHAT IT DOES Its meta search engine lets you discover and compare tours across all types and genres from more than 400 operators.

WHAT'S HOT Stride, which has more than 9,000 tours in more than 130 countries, anticipates what you might want to know and provides the info for you: the size of the tour, lodging level, level of physical activity, ratings and reviews, full itineraries, available dates, pricing and more. Tour results can be filtered based on interests, budgets and, of course, type and style of travel from family tours of the Galapagos to small-ship cruises in the Antarctic. Membership is free and some tours offer a $500 gift card for booking through Stride.

WHAT'S NOT The site could do a better job of illustrating the adventures that the tours provide. Video features would also be great.


NAME Handpresso, available at COST $129.95 WHAT
(Credit: Handpresso )

NAME Handpresso, available at

COST $129.95

WHAT IT IS A portable handheld espresso machine for travelers who can't do without their cup of Italian-style joe.

THE GOOD Not only does the machine make espresso, you can also brew up cappuccino as well as Americano-style java and latte. The machine is easy to use: Just add hot water and either ground coffee or ESE (easy-serving espresso) pods, then give the machine a few hand pumps to make one cup. Handpresso is lightweight (3 pounds) and holds 1.5 ounces of water. To clean it, rinse with soap and water.

THE BAD It seems a bit pricey, but if you travel frequently, Handpresso will save you the cost of buying espresso from your hotel or the local cafe. --The Washington Post

Atlas Cork Board Set

NAME Atlas Cork Board Set at COST

NAME Atlas Cork Board Set at

COST $50

WHAT IT IS Part scrapbook, part art installation, this wall board is a great way to document where you've been or to map out the future.

THE GOOD World travelers who want to show off their love of globe-trotting at home will enjoy this self-adhesive wall map. You can use it to pin notes, photos or other inspirations for your next trip, or decorate it with souvenirs, snapshots or other mementos from your latest vacation. The board, which is 39 inches long and 20 inches tall, comes with a set of pushpins and easily wipes clean.

THE BAD Depending on how often you travel, the map could fill up quickly. -- The Washington Post

Cool Cousin -- Travel Through People app

NAME Cool Cousin -- Travel Through People app
(Credit: Cool Cousin)

NAME Cool Cousin -- Travel Through People app

WHAT IT DOES Get travel recommendations and trip advice from "cousins" whose interests are similar to yours. Choose a metro city (12, with seven more on the way), look for guy or girl "cousins" and filter for recommendations.

COMPATIBLE WITH iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, requires iOS 8.0 or later; Android version coming soon.


WHAT'S HOTThe app's mantra -- "a recommendation is only as good as the person behind it" -- is followed through on every page. Click on the "Find Your Cousin" link, then click on a particular city to see everyone listed. Once you choose a "cousin," you can read a Q&A about him or her, then view their list of recommendations. ("Cousin" Christiana in Prague, for instance, will steer you to Kino Aero cinema and beer garden.) All map pins have their own category icon so they are easy to distinguish.

WHAT'S NOTThe "cousins" and the developers should probably be paid for their quality and helpfulness. --Los Angeles Times

The Outbound -- The Best Local Outdoor Adventures app

NAME The Outbound -- The Best Local Outdoor
(Credit: Alamy / Jason O. Watson)

NAME The Outbound -- The Best Local Outdoor Adventures

WHAT IT DOES The app directs you to places and tour providers that specialize in backpacking, camping, hiking, kayaking, fishing, kite boarding, mountain biking and more.

COMPATIBLE WITH AVAILABLE iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, requires iOS 8.0 or later


WHAT'S HOT Even in cities you may have visited many times, this app will find activities and destinations you never knew about, such as a day trip to Congaree National Park near Charleston, South Carolina. For far-reaching inspiration go to "Search by Activity" on the home page, click on your interest, such as swimming, but instead of a specific location click on "Anywhere" and the app will take you to places like La Laguna, Nicaragua; Slide Lake in Wyoming; and a blue hole in upstate Grahamsville. You can sort by season too.

WHAT'S NOT The app may crash when clicking into deeper pages. -- Los Angeles Times

The Getaway Passport Holder

NAME The Getaway Passport Holder COST $24,

NAME The Getaway Passport Holder

COST $24,

WHAT IT IS World travelers with a sense of style will appreciate this chic and sassy way to hold your passport.

THE GOOD This artificial leather holder comes in five designs -- including pastels, hologram and floral prints -- that will appeal to the fashion-conscious. You can also choose designs that are emblazoned with the words "I'm Outta Here" or "Here Comes the Fun." At 4 inches by 5.625 inches, the size is a perfect fit for your passport. The inside features metallic lining and has three slots for money, credit cards or a driver's license.

THE BAD Given the colors and styles, this might not be a guy thing. -- The Washington Post



WHAT IT DOES It's a tool built by a professional travel photographer so other travel photographers can show -- and perhaps sell -- their work. Create your own photo website or travel blogs ($2.99 to $35 monthly plans).

WHAT'S HOT There are four elegant and easy-to-use design themes you can choose to build your site. You can upload travel photos, build galleries, and create pages and blog posts as desired. When you're on an individual photo, click on the camera icon to get specifics on how the photo was taken, or click on the share icon to send to friends and family. Photographers can create an account and get a free 14-day trial. The advanced features, such as having your own newsletter or image watermark, are enticing. But first, view the existing galleries for Asia, Europe, North America, South America and Oceania.

WHAT'S NOT The website is beautiful, but it's unclear how to buy photos.

WannaGo app

NAME WannaGo app WHAT IT DOES Lets users
(Credit: WannaGo)

NAME WannaGo app

WHAT IT DOES Lets users build and organize their "GoLists" by city. Tag a restaurant, hotel, attraction, shop, museum or other location as "Love it," if you've already been, or "Try it," if it's on your must-see list.

COMPATIBLE WITH Compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, requires iOS 8.0 or later; Android, requires 4.4 and up.


WHAT'S HOT It's simple to organize places you love. Your lists, favorite spots and places you want to try are easily shared by email, Facebook, text and Twitter. The menu button is extra-handy. Not many travel websites show you the restaurant menu at the same time you're reading about it or looking at pictures of its entrees. This, besides having the map, website, hours and an instant call button all on the same page are more reasons to keep the app on the front page of your smartphone.

WHAT'S NOT Some of the 31 cities have only one or two lists.

Bandolier Cross-body Case for iPhone

NAME Bandolier Cross-body Case for iPhone COST $80,
(Credit: )

NAME Bandolier Cross-body Case for iPhone

COST $80,

WHAT IT IS This hands-free cellphone case can also double as a wallet.

THE GOOD If you spend a significant percentage of every vacation fumbling for your cellphone, this stylish cross-body phone case could be the answer to your prayers. Just slip your phone in the case and pull out when needed. It's comfortable to wear while strolling about town, bustling through the airport or hiking in the woods. The case is made from pebbled silver leather and also features two slots for cash, credit cards and driver's license. The case is designed for iPhone 5, 6, 6+ and 7+.

THE BAD The price is $5 more for the iPhone 6+ and 7+, though it's $10 less for iPhone 5.

Secret London

NAME Secret London ( WHAT IT DOES The
(Credit: iStockphoto / Philip Willcocks)

NAME Secret London (

WHAT IT DOES The website suggests walking tours and points to you unusual spots and little-known secrets about the English capital.

WHAT'S HOT This jolly good site has links to individual London boroughs from Aldwych to Woolwich. Each section is crammed with information on unusual sights such as a glockenspiel in Leicester Square that stands in place of the long-gone Swiss Center, and the Ten Bells Pub in Whitehall, which locals believe is haunted by Mary Kelly, the last victim of Jack the Ripper. The Themes section lets you plan your visit by topics including Horses, Heraldry and Rome. (For a bloody good time, you can choose Gore.) The Trivia section has fascinating histories on the city's bridges, rivers and even its red phone booths. There are also guides for shopping, museums, gastropubs, spots for afternoon tea and more.

WHAT'S NOT You can't click on a photo to enlarge it. --Dan Bubbeo

NAME WHAT IT DOES An interactive map


WHAT IT DOES An interactive map of the United States "zooms" you to visitor guides for states, cities and counties across the country.

WHAT'S HOT The website's strength is how quickly it gets you needed information. Hover your mouse over a state and watch its license plate pop up. Click on the state to take you to its map with cities and counties represented, then click on a destination's point to take you to its visitor guide. A wealth of information awaits in the tourist board's or convention and visitor bureau's website. The top navigation bar tabs are shortcuts to information about lodging, dining, events, kid-friendly activities and shopping.

WHAT'S NOT It lacks the usual About or Contact pages found on most websites. It's a small issue, but the information helps establish trust. --Los Angeles Times

Slim Sonic Toothbrush

NAME Slim Sonic Toothbrush from The Container Store
(Credit: The Container Store )

NAME Slim Sonic Toothbrush from The Container Store

COST $14.99;

WHAT IT IS A battery-operated toothbrush that provides the dental benefits of an electric one.

THE GOOD This sleek sonic toothbrush weighs only 2.5 ounces, so it won't take up much room in your suitcase and can even fit in a carry-on, gym bag or handbag. More important, it's super powerful and offers approximately 22,000 brush strokes per minute. The brush head is washable and can be replaced when it starts to wear (an additional brush head is included, and a package of four replacement heads is $9.99). The toothbrush operates on one AAA battery, so you won't have to lug a charger or cord with you when you travel. It comes in two stylish designs -- silver or polka dot.

THE BAD Toothpaste is not included. --The Washington Post


NAME Showaround WHAT IT DOES The new app
(Credit: )

NAME Showaround

WHAT IT DOES The new app accompanies the website to pair travelers with 50,573 local guides in 5,400 cities in 192 countries.

COMPATIBLE WITH iPhone, iPad and iPod, requires iOS 8.0 or later.


WHAT'S HOT Use the setting button in the app's upper-right-hand corner to set your price range, language preference and activities you are interested in. There's even an option to filter your guide by male, female or couple. If you want to be a guide, you can set your own price. A search for a local guide in Nashville yielded a travel lover offering ways to show visitors how to avoid lines at the honky-tonks, how to find the best skyline shots for photos and where to find the original Nashville hot chicken. He charged $27 an hour.

WHAT'S NOT The app can be confusing to navigate.

Necktie Travel Roll

NAME Necktie Travel Roll from Uncommon Goods COST

NAME Necktie Travel Roll from Uncommon Goods

COST $24,

WHAT IT IS This stylish dark navy vegan-leather case is designed to pack neatly rolled neckties in a space-efficient package.

THE GOOD Rolling rather than folding your clothes is the packing trend of the moment. Why should your tie be an exception? Once you arrive at your destination, just unroll your tie, which will be wrinkle-free and ready to wear. The case fits three ties, and the magnetic clasp will keep them secure. The tie roll is compact (4.25 inches long, 3 inches wide and 3 inches tall) and easily wipes clean.

THE BADThough the design is spiffy, it's too bad it's available only in one color.

NAME WHAT IT DOES The accommodations-booking website


WHAT IT DOES The accommodations-booking website caters to travelers who want the space a vacation rental provides but with hotel amenities. Available in Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Miami, Montreal, San Diego, Toronto and Vancouver, British Columbia.

WHAT'S HOT Amenities at these properties include 24/7 concierge service, hotel-style sheets and towels, local guides, quality toiletries, Wi-Fi and a fully stocked kitchen. Several of the properties start at less than $100 a night, though prices sometimes change according to date. Scroll through all the pictures before you use the filters. A three-bedroom spot in San Diego started at $129 a night. That rate was before taxes and the $95 cleaning fee.

WHAT'S NOT Charm and design sense vary. If you prefer a homey vacation rental with its share of personal effects, this may not be your site. The pictures depict rentals with minimalist décor and maximum cleanliness. --Los Angeles Times

Mask Bunny Luggage Tag

NAME Mask Bunny Luggage Tag COST $14.95 at

NAME Mask Bunny Luggage Tag

COST $14.95 at

WHAT IT IS For junior travelers, this cute and colorful kids' luggage tag is designed to stand out on the baggage carousel.

THE GOOD The tag pretty much matches what the name says -- it features a backpack-toting bunny donning a mask. Kids can write their name and number inside the bunny's backpack, then attach the tag to a baggage handle. (If they want to, kids can also use the tag on their own backpacks.) The tag is available in four colors -- blue, brown, pink and yellow -- so there should be no problem finding your little one's suitcase at the airport.

THE BAD The worst thing might be containing your child's enthusiasm until they can use it on the family vacation. --The Washington Post

NAME WHAT IT DOES Unearthed Travel leads


WHAT IT DOES Unearthed Travel leads school groups on eight- to 21-day all-inclusive trips, with 15 destinations to choose from across Southeast Asia, India and Nepal, Africa, and Central and South America.

WHAT'S HOT Unearthed Travel refers to the tours as expeditions. Students attend a training workshop that addresses leadership roles and responsibilities, risk management, and destination research and logistics. Students help manage parts of the budget, purchase transportation, choose local restaurants and organize accommodations. The travel experiences include a community project, outdoor trek and a cultural exploration. Some of the projects have included building projects with Tibetan communities and supporting indigenous jungle villages in Borneo.

WHAT'S NOT Price information was hard to find on the website and the brochure, though you can call the company. Prices are all-inclusive and start at $2,500 for programs in Latin America and reach more than $5,000 for 21-day expeditions in India, Nepal and Southeast Asia. --Los Angeles Times

Journi app

NAME Journi app WHAT IT DOES Builds a

NAME Journi app

WHAT IT DOES Builds a story (or mobile blog entries) using the photos in your smartphone. Add text and click on the map icon to see highlights from your travels.

AVAILABLE In the App Store; requires iOS 8.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. In Google Play, requires Android; varies with device.


WHAT'S HOT A quick and easy alternative to setting up a website for a single trip. Allows your friends and family to follow your adventures in real time using the web, app and email. Group journaling is another option, a great tool for multigenerational trips or reunions. Your Journi can be made public or private.

WHAT'S NOT You can't switch the order of diary entries (called "Moments") because the app uploads chronologically. The makers say manual adjusting is coming soon.

Stamp app

NAME Stamp app WHAT IT DOES The app
(Credit: Stamp app)

NAME Stamp app

WHAT IT DOES The app posts "stamps" of travel tips from around the world. Each stamp includes a photo, a description written by the traveler and a pin on a map. Travelers can browse for travel tips before a trip or from a current location.

AVAILABLE In the App Store, requires iOS 8.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.


WHAT'S HOT It's a simple way to share travel tips before, during and after a journey. Use the "Explore" icon in the bottom navigation bar if you want to look for travel tips or "stamps" from a specific location. If you want to keep a stamp, click on the peach-colored bucket with a star on it. Doing that will start your bucket list.

WHAT'S NOT Users might want a networking tool within the app to see if friends from Facebook or Twitter were using it. -- Los Angeles Times

Show More

Sign up for Newsday's Travel newsletter

Plan small day trips, big getaways and more.

Sign up

By clicking Sign up, you agree to our privacy policy.

Related Media

Hotel Aqua Dome Tirol Therme Langenfeld in Langenfeld, 10 stunning spas around the world France's Chamonix valley is seen from the Aiguille Travel photographs from around the world A friendly turtle swam over to us and Readers' vacation photos

Comments now uses Facebook for our comment boards. Please read our guidelines and connect your Facebook account to comment.

By using this site, you agree to our Privacy policy.