Vacation is supposed to be a time to leave your troubles behind and bask in the sunshine, ski in the snow or drive off the beaten path. To help navigate your travels, there are the standard flight, hotel and car-booking apps like Kayak, along with “Are you sure you packed everything?” apps like Packing Pro. There are the “What's near me?” apps like AroundMe and Yelp and safe home security systems home automation apps.
These are all handy and helpful, but where are the fun apps that do cool things? Thankfully, as smartphones keep getting smarter, we can now keep track of wandering kids, eat where the foodies do, take breathtaking panoramic pics and monitor those UV rays. Some of these lesser-known apps rank high in must-get app chatter:
The Roadside America app offers information, navigation and editorial commentary on some of the lesser-known, oddball roadside attractions on your road trip route. Have you heard of the Cabazon Dinosaurs in California or Carhenge in Nebraska? With this app, you'll never miss another giant ball of twine, quirky museum or bizarre statue.
Another cool app, iExit, tells you ahead of time what to expect from each exit before you come upon it so you don't pass by any more must see attractions.
Featured on The Today Show, The Travel Channel and The Cooking Channel, this app was one of Time's 50 Best iPhone Apps of 2012. The main focus is its visual guide of dishes at restaurants across the country. You are able to see what's good at any restaurant as rated by the best of foodies, experts and critics. Keep track of what you like and what you don't, one dish at a time.
Trumping the standard photo app is Pano, which captures beautiful landscapes. Even the novice photographer can create a masterpiece with iPhone's onboard camera. Take up to 16 photos and the app's software will align, blend and color-match the photos together to create seamless images that are stored onto the phone's photo roll.
The last thing you want to worry about while relaxing on the beach is “Are we getting a stupid sunburn?” Don't worry about it. The Coppertone MyUVAlert to the rescue. Really. This app offers local UV index forecasts, sunscreen reapplication reminders, coupons and sun protection tips from the experts. Find the best products for each member of the family customized specifically for their skin.
An app run by the U.S. Department of State, Smart Traveler offers access to frequently updated official information, travel alerts and warnings. It tells you where a U.S. embassy is in other countries as you create and organize your own personal travel itineraries. It also gives access to STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program), which assists in lost/stolen passports and can help family and friends contact you in case of an overseas emergency. The most fun of all: Shake your device and it offers information on a random country.