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My 5 favorite apps for holiday travel

Mel Martin

Yes, it's that time of year again. Travel by car, plane and train. New places to visit, with lots of places to locate, for shopping, dining, sightseeing and (I hope not) emergency facilities. In this post, I'll describe my favorite travel apps.

My first choice for turn-by-turn navigation is Navigon. (Navigon USA is US$32.99.) Navigon stores maps locally, so travel between cities guarantees me good data. Google local search is available for complete destination information, and Google Street View shows what my destination will actually look like.

I added the 3D Panorama view as an extra add-on because I like to see the mountains, and I added live traffic and USA speed cameras. I do think Apple Maps has improved greatly, and I love that I can ask for a destination with Siri, but Navigon is still my favorite for finding a distant or a local destination. Navigon also integrates Glympse. More about Glympse later.

When I've arrived at my destination, and want to find out what is worth visiting, I'm very happy with Where To? This $2.99 app has an extensive database of points of interest, and includes crowdsourced ratings. Locations can be saved to your contacts, and shared via email, Twitter or Facebook. The app also knows what navigation apps you have, so you can send your destination to Navigon, Apple Maps, Google Maps and several other similar apps. That's a great idea.

Ok, now to talk about Glympse. Glympse (free) sends alerts to those awaiting your arrival as you travel. They can view a real-time map that shows your location and estimates when you will arrive. It beats constant calling or sending texts. A Glympse can be sent to a smartphone or a computer. Lately, the Glympse GUI has regressed in ease of use with click and slide actions, which are frustrating some people, but Glympse does what it does very well, and I use it almost weekly. Even when I am meeting someone for lunch or dinner, it's great to let them know when I'll get there.

Travel by air is surely not as fun as it used to be, but it's made easier by using Flight+ ($3.99). I can track any flight in the world, easily search for flights a variety of ways, see detailed gate and time information and see seat maps of any plane I'm going on. Flights can be traced via a detailed map, and there is detailed weather information for my destinations. Flight+ provides alerts for time changes, as well as gate and terminal changes. It also gives me Departure and Arrival reminders, which is handy if I am picking someone up at the airport.

Finally, I frequently use Gate Guru. This free app also contains flight notifications, but is most useful at the airport when looking for a specific restaurant or service. The app contains 35,000 reviews of airport food, and TSA security wait time estimates. It also contains weather, and you can book a rental car at the last minute if you need to.

I don't do any travel by train, so I have no favorites, but people who do are impressed with Roadify Transit. It covers buses, subways, trains, bikes and ferries. The app offers walking directions, real-time service advisories, and it covers public transportation in many US cities. The app is free.

Holiday travel can be a challenge, and sometimes frustrating. These apps are my favorites for reducing holiday travel stress. Have a safe trip, and don't forget to keep checking TUAW when you are on the road.