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A Travel Blog from the Editors of T+L

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Six New Phone Accessories to Up Your Instagram Game

Upgrade Your Phone

With a couple of key accessories (shown here with the iPhone 5S), you can turn your camera into a bona fide powerhouse.

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The Best New Cameras for Travel

Travel Cameras

Whether you’re in the market for a user-friendly point-and-shoot or an expert-level DSLR, T+L tech correspondent Tom Samiljan has the model for you.

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Best Apps for Organizing Travel Information

201406-hd-travel-apps-trip-casejpg

Keeping track of your itinerary details, loyalty programs, and reservations can be a headache without the right tools. T+L takes a look at the best apps.

Worldmate Gold: Wish all of your travel details would show up on your phone’s calendar? WorldMate’s premium app will make it happen—whether you use Google, iCal, or Outlook. It can sync flight schedules, restaurant reservations, apartment rentals, and more—and if you add a hotel booking, the app will automatically try to find you a better price. Also handy: built-in weather forecasts that appear alongside your appointments. ($9.99 per year; Android, iOS, Windows Phone)

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5 Great Road-Trip Apps

best apps for road trips

Planning a summer drive? These five tools—vetted by T+L tech correspondent Tom Samiljan—will help you make the most of every mile.

FOR ON-ROAD ENTERTAINMENT TUNE IN RADIO You’re unlikely to get playlist fatigue listening to the app’s 100,000-plus radio stations from all over the world, but if you do, Tune In also offers streaming access to an inexhaustible number of concerts, podcasts, and talk shows on a clean, user-friendly interface. From NPR news updates to local traffic alerts and sports scores, this all-purpose radio app delivers in spades. (Free; Android, Blackberry, iOS, Windows Phone)

FOR GPS (AND MORE) SCOUT This app by mapping giant Telenav may be the most practical tool for road trippers: it finds the cheapest gas stations, dictates turn-by-turn directions at your request, and provides personalized recommendations (restaurants, hotels, even local concerts or events) along any multi-leg route. Bonus: the Arrival Guide feature (iOS only) points out the best parking options near your destination. (Free; Android, iOS)

FOR ITINERARY SUGGESTIONS GREATEST DRIVE Still charting the course of your drive? This app suggests the best road-trip itineraries nearby, annotating each with a summary, star rating, and user reviews. (It’ll also tell you whether a road is twisty, scenic, or likely to be traffic-plagued.) Can’t find what you’re looking for? Integration with Yelp helps you pick places to eat and things to see along the way. (Free; Android, iOS)

FOR HANDS-FREE SHARING GLYMPSE Texting and driving isn’t just dangerous—in most states, it’s illegal. That’s why Glympse, which automatically relays your GPS location to family and friends, is invaluable when you’re sticking to a schedule. Your information is sent only to predetermined contacts in your phone book, for select windows of time—making it easy to keep your eyes on the road. (Free; Android, iOS)

FOR QUIRKY ATTRACTIONS ROADSIDE AMERICA If you’re driving cross-country just for kicks, you might like to see Pittsburgh’s Robot Hall of Fame, or the world’s largest collection of teapots, in Trenton, Tennessee. The app also sheds light on the idiOSyncrasies of beloved attractions (historical monuments; parks; sports arenas)—10,000 venues in all. (From $2.99; iOS)

AUTO CONNECTION Thanks to new connected-car technology, your favorite mobile apps are now being optimized for in-dash touch screens. Carmakers from GM to Audi are introducing built-in apps, while initiatives by Apple (CarPlay) and the Android-focused Open Automotive Alliance are being integrated into select Mercedes-Benz, Honda, and Volvo models, among others. What to expect: voice-activated Web search, OpenTable reservations booked from your car, and maps showing how far you can go at current gas levels.

TECH WATCH Meet the next generation of public Wi-Fi: Hotspot 2.0. These secure networks offer an automatic connection—simply walk within range and voilà, you’re online. Boingo subscribers can find them at 23 major U.S. airports; access is also available for Time Warner Cable customers coast-to-coast.

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@timeinc.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.


Photo courtesy of Jake Stangel

 


4 Reasons to Love Google Now

Google Now

Google’s new take on Siri is more than a voice-activated search tool—it’s a full-fledged digital assistant. Here are four things we love about Google Now.

1. It’s easy to use on mobile with the surprisingly accurate voice search (prompted by “OK Google”).

2. It can scan your location, search history, or confirmation e-mails—all to offer personalized updates (when to leave for the airport, for example) on virtual cards.

3. It anticipates your needs, telling you the local weather or how to get to your Airbnb rental before you think to ask.

4. It’s opt-in, customizable, and not just for Android phones. (On iOS? The free Google app contains all Now features.)

Related Links:
Best Apps and Websites for Travelers
15 Tech Innovations That Will Change the Way You Travel
Google’s Self-Driving Car Makes The Road Trip of Tomorrow

Tom Samiljan is Travel + Leisure’s Tech Correspondent.

Have a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to tripdoctor@timeinc.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.

Best New Food Apps and Websites

Food Apps: Viator

Looking to book a Shanghai street-food tour or a Provençal cooking class? Let these new food apps and sites take care of the legwork.

Best For Tailored Recommendations: Peek

Like an OpenTable for guided activities and food crawls, Peek (free; iOS) provides direct booking service straight from the app or website. Its real strength lies in its carefully curated content—all outings are vetted by Peek staff or trusted tastemakers. Take a quick personality quiz for customized suggestions.

Why Foodies Love It: Unique offerings—a dinner cruise on the Thames in London; a coffee plantation visit in Maui—are the rule, not the exception.

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Five Ways to Get a Better Hotel Room Rate

better hotel room rate

Looking to score a deal on a great hotel? These digital tips and tricks from T+L will ensure you get the best price in the house.

Know the Market

Timing is key. The Web-based price predictor feature on TheSuitest forecasts how room prices are expected to fluctuate for the next month—use it to find the right time to buy in any market. Then cross-check with DealAngel and Bing's Hotel Rate Indicator—both compare quoted rates with a hotel’s average cost, telling you which deals are really worthwhile.

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Best New Outdoor Adventure Apps

Best New Outdoor Adventure Apps

These mobile tools—each vetted by T+L tech correspondent Tom Samiljan—will help you get closer to nature without cutting the (phone) cord. Pick your adventure alter-ego and find out which app is the best for you.

Stargazer: Pocket Universe

Zoom in on a planet (or star) for extra details.

This stargazing app sees the sky through your camera and instantly annotates the applicable constellations. Location-specific animations tell you when you might see certain stars based on where you are anywhere in the world. The best part: this pocket astronomer works seamlessly without data roaming. $2.99, iOS.

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Best New Walking Tour Apps

Walking Apps

Love exploring cities on your own two feet? These mobile services—each vetted by T+L—put the guide right in your pocket, giving you local expertise wherever you go.

For Spontaneous Adventures: Field Trip
This Google-designed app uses your phone’s location services to pick up on what’s cool around you nearly anywhere in the world. (Use the app’s “Feeling Lucky” setting to minimize data-roaming charges.) Wander the streets of Bangkok, for example, and you’ll get notifications about great restaurants, shops, historic sites, and even special deals nearby—each tip pulls information from resources such as Zagat and the American Institute of Architects. Exploring by car? Set the app on “speaking” mode for a hands-free experience. Free; Android, iOS.

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Tips for Using Cell Phones Overseas

Cell Phones Overseas

Our tech expert’s latest tips help you stay connected while you’re abroad—without the excessive fees.

Get a Data Plan: All the major U.S. cellular carriers are offering a better value when it comes to roaming—great news for travelers. AT&T and Verizon Wireless currently offer the best deals, starting at $25 a month for 100MB. Spending only two weeks away? The plans can be prorated, letting you activate the service for as long as you need to (yielding a fraction of both the bill and the data allotment). Be sure to stay within your limit: overage fees remain costly, but free app My Data Manager (Android, iOS) can help monitor your usage in real time. As for text and voice plans, they’re still separate, and less cost-effective.

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