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

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

Tasteful app

NAME Tasteful app WHAT IT DOES Helps travelers
(Credit: Tastefulapp.com)

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.

COST Free

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 maven.com) WHAT
(Credit: Brian Kersey for Maven)

NAME Maven (for specifics, go to maven.com)

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

Wheresgood.to

NAME wheresgood.to WHAT IT DOES This no-frills online
(Credit: Wheresgood.to)

NAME wheresgood.to

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

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BendyMan Flashlight + Table Stand

NAME Walter + Ray's BendyMan Flashlight + Table
(Credit: walterandray.com)

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

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

Yuggler.com

NAME Yuggler.com WHAT IT DOES Provides moms and
(Credit: Yuggler.com)

NAME Yuggler.com

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

Triprepublic.com

NAME Triprepublic.com WHAT IT DOES The website is
(Credit: TripRepublic.com)

NAME Triprepublic.com

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 booking.com, 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
(Credit: Gsioutdoors.com)

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

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

FreshOffTheGrid.com

NAME FreshOffTheGrid.com WHAT IT DOES The website combines
(Credit: FreshOffTheGrid.com)

NAME FreshOffTheGrid.com

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

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Klook Activities & Attractions

NAME Klook Activities & Attractions WHAT IT DOES
(Credit: Klook.com)

NAME Klook Activities & Attractions

WHAT IT DOES Klook.com 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.

COST Free

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

AirHelp.com

NAME AirHelp.com WHAT IT DOES The website acts
(Credit: AirHelp.com)

NAME AirHelp.com

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

Dorisanddicky.com

NAME Doris and Dicky WHAT IT DOES The
(Credit: dorisanddicky.com)

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
(Credit: Texture.com)

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

Wanderu.com

NAME Wanderu.com WHAT IT DOES The website and
(Credit: Wanderu.com)

NAME Wanderu.com

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

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theearthawaits.com

NAME theearthawaits.com WHAT IT DOES How much money
(Credit: theearthawaits.com)

NAME theearthawaits.com

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
(Credit: radio.garden)

NAME Radio Garden

WHAT IT DOES The website radio.garden 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

GetSnapTravel.com

NAME GetSnapTravel.com WHAT IT DOES The website uses
(Credit: GetSnapTravel.com)

NAME GetSnapTravel.com

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 GetSnapTravel.com, 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 Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com, 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.

Pixinote

NAME Pixinote WHAT IT DOES The app prints
(Credit: Pixinote.com)

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

StrideTravel.com

NAME stridetravel.com WHAT IT DOES Its meta search
(Credit: stridetravel.com)

NAME stridetravel.com

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.

Handpresso

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

NAME Handpresso, available at thegrommet.com

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 seattlestravelshop.com COST
(Credit: seattlestravelshop.com)

NAME Atlas Cork Board Set at seattlestravelshop.com

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.

COST Free

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

COST Free

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, bando.com
(Credit: Bando.com)

NAME The Getaway Passport Holder

COST $24, bando.com

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

Photler.com

NAME Photler.com WHAT IT DOES It's a tool
(Credit: photler.com)

NAME Photler.com

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.

COST Free

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: hip2travel.com )

NAME Bandolier Cross-body Case for iPhone

COST $80, hip2travel.com

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 (secret-london.co.uk) WHAT IT DOES The
(Credit: iStockphoto / Philip Willcocks)

NAME Secret London (secret-london.co.uk)

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

Guidezoomer.com

NAME guidezoomer.com WHAT IT DOES An interactive map
(Credit: Guidezoomer.com)

NAME guidezoomer.com

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; containerstore.com

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

Showaround

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

NAME Showaround

WHAT IT DOES The new app accompanies the website showaround.com 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.

COST Free

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
(Credit: uncommongoods.com)

NAME Necktie Travel Roll from Uncommon Goods

COST $24, uncommongoods.com

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.

Sonder.com

NAME sonder.com WHAT IT DOES The accommodations-booking website
(Credit: Sonder.com)

NAME sonder.com

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
(Credit: mochithings.com)

NAME Mask Bunny Luggage Tag

COST $14.95 at mochithings.com

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

unearthedtravel.com

NAME unearthedtravel.com WHAT IT DOES Unearthed Travel leads
(Credit: unearthedtravel.com)

NAME unearthedtravel.com

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
(Credit: Journi.com)

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.

COST Free

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.

COST Free

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

thebasetrip.com

NAME thebasetrip.com WHAT IT DOES Basetrip provides basic
(Credit: thebasetrip.com)

NAME thebasetrip.com

WHAT IT DOES Basetrip provides basic travel information you should know about a country before you leave, from visa requirements to vaccinations. You can also purchase country-specific information as a downloadable PDF ($5 with PayPal) that you can store on your smartphone or device.

WHAT'S HOT Having travel information all in one spot is a big help, and the Tips section is particularly useful with valuable information such as this shared by a traveler regarding China: "Get a VPN (virtual private network) and configure it well before you arrive. Limited internet access to the outside world and DNS (Domain Name System) errors when trying to access Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. can be very frustrating for the newcomers. WhatsApp is still available though."

WHAT'S NOT The PDFs usually have lots of white space, which is not efficient formatting for printing. -- Los Angeles Times

Lespetitestables.com

NAME Lespetitestables.com WHAT IT DOES A resource for
(Credit: Lespetitestables.com)

NAME Lespetitestables.com

WHAT IT DOES A resource for discovering budget-friendly restaurants in Paris.

WHAT'S HOT The restaurants are presented in a photo gallery format with quick info printed on the photo (location, type of restaurant and when to grab the deal). Hover your mouse over the picture and you'll see the price. Click on the photo and you'll go to the restaurant's review page, which includes more images of dishes, price comparisons for midday and evening meals, hours, nearest Metro stops, a map and sometimes a video. Photos usually show a receipt with proof of the meal's cost. Click on the "All our restaurants" page where you can filter your Parisian meals by "Unusual," "Traditional," "Romantic," "World" and "Design."

WHAT'S NOT The site is written in French. If you are using Chrome, just wait for the translation option to load at the top of your Web browser. -- Los Angeles Times

Whym

NAME Whym: Last-Minute Tickets, Tours & Attractions WHAT
(Credit: Whym)

NAME Whym: Last-Minute Tickets, Tours & Attractions

WHAT IT DOES The app sells tours and activity tickets to spur-of-the-moment travelers. Destinations include Barcelona, Spain; Rome; Paris; London; San Diego; New York; Las Vegas; Los Angeles and San Francisco.

COST App is free; the prices of tours and tickets vary.

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

WHAT'S HOT If you search for activities and tickets in Chicago for a mother-daughter trip, you'll find pages of tempting offers. Click on "Collections" and find themes such as "Food & Drinks" and "Kid Friendly." The San Diego options appeal to locals with "Fun Date Ideas" and to travelers with "Get to Know San Diego." Another plus is the comprehensive information about the activity or tour provided.

WHAT'S NOT When it says last minute, it means last minute: Activities can only be booked seven days in advance. -- Los Angeles Times

FlyingYak.com

NAME FlyingYak.com WHAT IT DOES Breaks down costs
(Credit: flyingyak.com)

NAME FlyingYak.com

WHAT IT DOES Breaks down costs for more than 1,000 cities across the globe, including room rates, transportation, groceries or an inexpensive restaurant meal. It also provides travelers with an overview of health care, crime, night life, pollution and religion.

WHAT'S HOT Got wanderlust? So do the creators of this website and corresponding app. Their belief that "investing in experiences is so much smarter than buying things" is demonstrated by FlyingYak's strong research tools, which are especially valuable for travelers who want to stay in a city longer than just to see the sights. Once you "follow" a few cities that meet your criteria (fast Wi-Fi, food and culinary arts, etc.), you can compare two of them by cost.

WHAT'S NOT It was time-consuming to use the add-a-city button. It would be much easier -- and faster -- if users could click off cities from a list for a fast start. -- Los Angeles Times

Guestbook

NAME theguestbook.com WHAT IT DOES The reward program
(Credit: Theguestbook.com)

NAME theguestbook.com

WHAT IT DOES The reward program offers 5 percent cash back through PayPal or e-payment sources and gift cards such as Visa, American Express, bitcoin, Amazon, iTunes, Best Buy, Bloomingdale's, Target, Starbucks, Toys R Us and more.

WHAT'S HOT Travelers who use this hotel loyalty program have even more options for rewards. Travelers also can choose a 10 percent back reward for using Guestbook's "Trip Cash" feature, which is applied to a stay at a hotel in its portfolio. The hotels include four- and five-star independent and boutique properties that are not part of mainstream chains. There are plentiful luxury options in large cities, but budget travelers shouldn't be discouraged. Guestbook has more than 500 hotels in 50 countries and is planning on expanding to 600 to 650 hotels by year's end.

WHAT'S NOT The results were inconsistent for destinations in the "Where are you headed?" search bar. -Los Angeles Times

Animoto Video Maker

NAME Animoto Video Maker WHAT IT DOES The
(Credit: animoto.com)

NAME Animoto Video Maker

WHAT IT DOES The online video-maker app lets you upload your photos and videos, pick a style to personalize your story, set it to music and add narration or title cards to complete it.

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

COST Free to download, with multiple in-app purchases. Basic monthly subscription is $4.99 (or $29.99 a year); personal subscription for $9.99 a month or $59.99 a year.

WHAT'S HOT This video-maker app is surprisingly fast and offers enough customization that your video appears professional. You can also edit from your computer, which might be easier if you're using more features. If you use higher-quality photos (not just smartphone photos), your video will turn out better. A help center on its website, animoto.com, can assist with troubleshooting.

WHAT'S NOT Why not offer one short video-editing session as a trial? --Los Angeles Times

Sky Tripping

NAME Sky Tripping: Relax to Stunning Aerial Films
(Credit: Skytripping.com)

NAME Sky Tripping: Relax to Stunning Aerial Films

WHAT IT DOES The app offers a collection of aerial videos that begin on the California coast and, for subscribers, take you to the Rocky Mountains, the Sonoran desert and more.

AVAILABILITY Compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, requires iOS 8.0 or later.

COST $2.99 to download (in-app purchases for $1.99 a month for additional themes or $19.99 a year for all access). Free trial for the first month if you sign up for the monthly subscription.

WHAT'S HOT The aerial videos of sunset ocean views are indeed peaceful, and to hear the waves of the Pacific Ocean lapping at the shore is dreamy. The tips section offers ideas on how to best use the app. You can control the volume with your phone or TV.

WHAT'S NOT There's one pitfall to pairing your iPhone to your Apple TV through AirPlay to watch the videos: If you use your phone to text someone, guess what will show on the TV? -- Los Angeles Times

SideStory

NAME sidestory.co WHAT IT DOES Artists, writers, photographers,
(Credit: Alamy)

NAME sidestory.co

WHAT IT DOES Artists, writers, photographers, stylists and other creative types open their contact lists to create private tours of London for curious and discerning travelers. Select one of 28 experiences; get in touch with SideStory, which organizes the details; then meet your Insider for your experience.

WHAT'S HOT Touring with a local is not new, but it's a treat to explore the world of London antiques with TV host Mark Hill of BBC's "Antiques Roadshow" or glean fashion sense from stylist Hannah Teare as you walk through Mayfair and peruse boutiques popular with the royal family. Book at least two weeks in advance; however, it does try to accommodate last-minute requests.

WHAT'S NOT The website might leave you longing for similar experiences in other cities. Also, the tours are not cheap -- the three-hour outing with Hill costs $465. -- Los Angeles Times

Pangea196.com

NAME pangea196.com WHAT IT DOES If you always
(Credit: Pangea196.com)

NAME pangea196.com

WHAT IT DOES If you always wanted to work remotely and be location-independent, Pangea196 can arrange a 12-month, 12-country sojourn with apartment accommodations and 24-hour Wi-Fi.

WHAT'S HOT All the details are taken care of. In 2017, you will travel to Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Czech Republic, Italy, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan and more. For $27,000 ($5,000 upfront and $2,000 per month for the remaining 11 months), your accommodations are paid for, as is your travel between cities. Pangea196 also organizes networking, cultural and community events in each location. Need a packing checklist? No problem: Info on travel insurance, visas and more is at the ready.

WHAT'S NOT It would be nice to see pictures of the apartments before signing up. Pangea196's FAQ page says that sleeping arrangements have professionals in mind. Each person (or couple) has a private room, kitchen access and other comforts. -- Los Angeles Times

Turo.com

NAME turo.com WHAT IT DOES Drivers can rent
(Credit: Turo.com)

NAME turo.com

WHAT IT DOES Drivers can rent a car -- or rent out their own.

WHAT'S HOT Tesla Model X. Maserati GranTurismo Convertible. Aston Martin V8 Vantage. Those are just a couple cars for rent on the "Elite in Los Angeles" board, but it's not all about expensive cars. If you're looking for adventure, tap the filters to fit your needs. Results after searching for a 2014 Jeep Wrangler in Denver with built-in navigation, Bluetooth audio streaming and a bike or ski rack yielded one for $99 a day, with discounts up to 10 percent per week or up to 18 percent per month. There currently aren't any rentals in New York, but there are plenty in New Jersey. If you want to list your car, Turo will set its rental price based on location, market value, time of year, etc., or you can do it yourself.

WHAT'S NOT The app (free) opens with a picture of a pop-up van with the prompt "Start your adventure," but such a van was nowhere to be found when searching. --Los Angeles Times

Collage: The London Picture Archive

NAME Collage: The London Picture Archive (collage.cityoflondon.gov.uk) WHAT
(Credit: Collage The London Picture Archive / Aurora Photos)

NAME Collage: The London Picture Archive (collage.cityoflondon.gov.uk)

WHAT IT DOES The site offers more than 250,000 images of London from the collections at London Metropolitan Archives and Guildhall Art Gallery.

WHAT'S HOT Travelers can hunt for photos of that special pub they caroused in or view historical pics. You can browse a variety of topics: royal or political events, viaducts, mythology, markets, street sellers and more. Did you find a favorite image? Collage allows you to register for free, build a list of your favorites, print the photos (with a watermark), buy a digital copy or order a print. There are also more than 1,000 maps to view. Check out "Popular Searches" in the left navigation bar for a tip on where to start.

WHAT'S NOT The database is precise, and if you enter a typo or misspell a word, you'll see a page that tells you "No items were found." --Los Angeles Times

Room Mate Hotels

Room Mate Hotels (room-matehotels.com) WHAT IT IS A
(Credit: room-matehotels.com)

Room Mate Hotels (room-matehotels.com)

WHAT IT IS A hotel group launched by three friends who were looking for hotels that they actually wanted to stay in. It began in Madrid and has expanded to 23 hotels in 12 cities in Europe, the United States, Mexico and Turkey. New hotels are planned in 2017 for Rotterdam, Netherlands, and Barcelona, Spain, among other destinations.

WHAT'S HOT Each property in the hotel group has its own name and distinctive décor. That personal approach extends to hotel guests, whom the staff is encouraged to treat as a friend, buddy or roommate. All hotels have a convenient central city location, offer breakfast until noon and free WiMate Total Wi-Fi good throughout the city. Room rates for Waldorf Towers in Miami were in the same range as those for hotel chains Hampton Inn, DoubleTree and Sheraton.

WHAT'S NOT Finding more information about Total Wi-Fi in the hotel descriptions was a struggle. --Los Angeles Times

ExOfficio Women's BugsAway Lumen Hoody

NAME ExOfficio Women's BugsAway Lumen Hoody COST $60;
(Credit: exofficio.com)

NAME ExOfficio Women's BugsAway Lumen Hoody

COST $60; exofficio.com

WHAT IT IS A light mesh-weave summer hoody with drawstring hood, thumb loops and built-in insect repellent.

THE GOOD With the Zika virus, not to mention other mosquito-born diseases, on travelers' minds, this lightweight, vibrantly colored long-sleeve cover-up provides protection against potentially dangerous bugs. Using Insect Shield technology, ExOfficio BugsAway hoody effectively repels mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers and midges. Plus, it's good-looking, packs down to practically nothing and is easy to wear.

THE BAD Though the insect repellent is reported to last the life of the garment (70 washings), its potency diminishes over time. Also, when we checked, the garment was available only in medium, large or extra large. Though it comes in six colors, not all of them were available for some sizes. -- Malerie Yolen-Cohen

Little.Voyage

NAME Little.Voyage WHAT IT DOES This website opens
(Credit: Little.Voyage)

NAME Little.Voyage

WHAT IT DOES This website opens the door to immersive travel through distinctive properties around the world. Hotels are grouped according to category: boutique, eco-friendly, fabulous, hideaway, quirky and shoestring.

WHAT'S HOT Next to the photos is essential information such as closest airport, destination facts, and currency and visa requirements. You can look at pictures of islands, beaches and cities. If you want to expand your travel to the ice canyons of Greenland, the northern lights of Lapland or the neon glow of the oceans in the Maldives, click on "Surreal" in the "Destinations" section.

WHAT'S NOT If you're used to that hotel room price tag being front and center, you won't find it here. Scroll down to the lower-right section of the property's description page and look for your next click under "Where to Book." You might find three websites to choose from or just the direction and link to "Book Direct." -- Los Angeles Times

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