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Top Apps for Your Summer Travels

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Summer is now at full force, which means vacations galore for seemingly countless numbers of people across the country. Even I’m readying myself to briefly part from the T+L offices for a much-needed beachside retreat in Maine. (More to come on that on another day.) With all this travel going on, I wanted to take some time to share a few of my favorite iOS apps that make travel a whole lot easier (and a lot more fun).

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Interview: Man v. Food's Adam Richman

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For anyone that knows who Adam Richman—of Travel Channel’s Man v. Food and Man v. Food Nation fame—is, his name likely conjures up images of the insanely over-the-top extreme food challenges that always top off his show. As a big fan of the show, I’ve watched him sweat his way through the spiciest of hot wings; dive into a 7 lb. breakfast burrito; and even worse, have at a 12 lb. hamburger. Each time, my mouth watered while simultaneously my stomach (and heart) hurt at even just the mere thought of taking on any of these challenges.

Being such a fan of the show, when I had the opportunity to speak with Adam about his new partnership with a social travel-sharing endeavor called Memory Mapper, I jumped at the opportunity to be able to pick his brain, even if just briefly. Memory Mapper is a Facebook app that easily let’s you take your travel photos and videos to create a slideshow of sorts; but the cool part about it is that it connects with Google Earth so people watching also feel like they’re being taken there with you.

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Digital Resources for the Road

Casio Tryx camera

Save time getting photos online with PhotoRocket (free; Windows; Mac; iPhone), a service that uploads pictures to your social sites simultaneously.

The super-lightweight, stylish Zoom Q3HD ($300) captures audio and video in high-def. Plus, with built-in editing software that loads onto your computer via USB, sharing your footage is easy.

The Powermat Power Dual 1850 Rechargeable Backup Battery ($50) features a micro-USB and Apple connector to recharge your devices on the go—no outlet necessary.

It might be compact, but don’t underestimate the Casio Tryx ($250), with features like continuous shooting and Slide Panorama, which allows you to capture a 360-degree scene flawlessly.

Photo courtesy of Casio

NYC Businesses Celebrate Gay Marriage With Fab Deals

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The effects from the recent legalizing of gay marriage in New York are already starting to take shape. In peparation for the day legal ceremonies will finally be able to be performed—July 24—Mayor Bloomberg is preparing to launch a new campaign called "NYC I Do," which will seek to bring in gay tourists looking to get hitched. What does that mean for the city? About $400 million in estimated revenue over the next three years, just from gay marriage–related spending!

To boot, many of the NYC’s businesses have quickly shown their support for the historic decision, and are celebrating by offering special discounts for the many couples that have been patiently waiting for their time to come. Here are just a few I was able to find. (Without a doubt, more will surface as July 24 nears.) Happy Pride!

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Sing Your Way to a Free Hotel Upgrade

Remember that scene in Heartbreakers, when Sigourney Weaver’s con artist character staged a dramatic fall for Jennifer Love Hewitt’s character in the marble-decked lobby of an über fancy hotel, all for the sake of getting a sweet suite at the hotel, free of charge? Funny as that was, there are other—and much more legal—ways to get a free upgrade at a hotel. There are hotel reward programs. Or, for those who like to have a little fun, just sing a song!

Seriously.

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Tech Review: T-Mobile G2x Smartphone

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With the advent of the smartphone, finding a cell phone that has access to travel-friendly apps is easy. Nowadays, the real trick is finding one that not only can run all those apps, but also do it seamlessly.

So when I tested out the new T-Mobile G2x, powered by Android 2.2, I was happy to see that it was top notch. The phone, released just a few weeks ago, is a great addition to the slew of new Android-based smartphones. I found the touchscreen to be extremely responsive and on point when making selections and even typing texts. (Though I should admit, I don't think it's quite up to par with iPhone's responsiveness, but that's a feat that seems to be among the biggest challenges for all creators of touchscreens.) Still, the mistakes made while firing off texts were few and far between.

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Trend Alert: Hotels Implementing Mobile Concierges

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It’s no secret that the introduction of iPads into the market, just over a year ago, has resulted in the reshaping of how just about every industry imaginable does business. And as I’ve reported before, hotels are no exception to this.

A relatively new trend that I’m seeing on the rise is the use of iPads as personal, portable concierges.

InterContinental’s new Concierge Insider Guides app features more than 120 destinations around the world—all in which one of the hotel chain’s properties can be found, of course.

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Rent an Entire Country?

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When it comes to vacation rentals, we’re all familiar with hotels, resorts, villas, yurts, and boats. But what if you had the chance (and budget) to take it to the next level, and rent an entire country? (No, there’s no typo there. And yes, you read that right.)

Airbnb.com, a vacation rental site that lets people rent out their own properties to travelers looking to stray from the typical hotel stay, is really stepping up its game with this offer, which (literally) puts the key to the small country of Liechtenstein (which rests on Austria’s western border) in your hands. But you’ll need to be a high-roller (or at least have a ton of friends willing to pool resources) if you want take advantage; the cost is $70,000 per night.

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Nextpedition: Surprise Vacation Planning

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I've never made a travel itinerary for any trip I’ve taken. Why not? Partly because when I’m on vacation, I like to go with the flow. But it’s also because I don’t really like to spend a ton of time researching. Let’s not forget that half the fun in traveling to a new destination is the excitement that comes from the unexpected.

Knowing there are quite a few folks out there who think similarly, American Express, T+L’s parent company, developed a new booking service it's calling Nextpedition (tomorrow is its grand debut). Primarily targeting twentysomethings, Nextpedition creates trips based on your travel profile. But here’s the catch: you won’t know where you’re going or what you’re doing until the last minute.

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Final Four Deals at Four Seasons Hotel Houston

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My experience in the world of sports piqued when I joined my local tee ball league; I spent my time in left field picking flowers and after hitting the ball, I may or may not have run to third base first. Needless to say, I don’t know a thing about sports.

That being said, I’m told that the NCAA Final Four (that’s basketball, folks) is upon us, and to celebrate, since the games are being played in Houston, Four Seasons Hotel Houston is offering some pretty cool specials. If you're a local and weren't able to score tickets (or just happen to be breezing through town), and want to enjoy the games in style, hit up the Lobby Lounge for salmon sashimi cleverly shaped like basketballs. (Just try to tell me those aren’t awesomely adorable.) For $16, you’ll score four.

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