Travel Technology and Gadgets to Make Your 2013 Summer Vacation Easier

Where Will You Vacation this Summer? Pictured, Boca Grande, Fla.
Where Will You Vacation this Summer? Pictured, Boca Grande, Fla.

Summer’s here which means vacation time! Thanks to 21st century technology, here are a few resources to make your 2013 summer vacation easier.

APPS; Available: Online, iPhone and Android. Free.

Heading out of the country and need to learn a new language? Give DuoLingo a try not only because it’s free but because it’s as effective as those paid learning resources. I was using DuoLingo (which is great for passing the time in the airport, too) and Rosetta Stone to learn Portuguese and the lessons are somewhat similar. Current languages available are English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.; Available: iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad running iOS 5+. $1.99.

Need to stay within your vacation budget? Try Piglet, an app to track your spending and indicate when you’ve reached your daily limit or if you’ve overspent. While the iOS app can be used for travel, Piglet is designed for everyday budgeting. It’s pretty simple to use. Insert your budget then remember to input your spending, Piglet will keep track of the rest on a daily and weekly basis. Once you purchase it, the app can be run on any of your iOS devices simulataneously and it uses iCloud Sync so your devices – iPhone and iPad – are on the same page, so to say. In addition to my travels, I’ll be using this to help me in my quest to eliminate my debt the Dave Ramsey way.

RingCredible –;  Available: iPhone, Android, PC Dialer and Blackberry. Free to download, applicable fees for calls.

Although some smartphone providers offer temporary international calling plans when traveling outside the U.S., some do not which can cause a pain in the wallet. If you need to make calls during your vacation abroad – and yes, there will be some reason you need to use your phone – consider RingCredible which uses Voice over IP (VoIP) technology to make calls over a 3G or WiFi Internet connection. The call receiver doesn’t need to have a computer or smartphone, the call can be made to a standard phone line. The app promises cheaper calls than Skype and from what I can tell, it’d be significantly cheaper using this app than getting my carrier’s international plan for a month. Read what The IT Nerd has to say about RingCredible.

Smart Layover
Smart Layover

Smart; Available: iOS, Android and Blackbery. Free.

Have an extended layover at the airport? Smart Layover offers user things to do and exclusive deals to do in airport terminals and in layover cities. Features include ability to book sightseeing tours and attractions in more than 140 countries; staying up to date on flight status, airport information, security wait times and access terminal maps; and finding deals and purchase discounted food and gifts at airport terminal restaurants and retail shops and in the layover city.

TripIt for iPad
TripIt for iPad; Available: iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows phones. Free to $49 (for Tripit Pro,

If you’re like me, when making my travel plans I TRY to gather all my confirmations, print them out, place them in a file and carry with me to my destination(s). Somehow, I usually lose one. There’s now an easier way to do this, it’s through TripIt. Create your trip itinerary by emailing confirmations from hotels, air travel and any other travel-related bookings for free. TripIt Pro has upgraded features for keeping you informed such as flight delays, gate changes and fare refunds; tracking your frequent travel program pints; and keeping anyone who needs to know your whereabouts – great for the safety of solo travelers.  TripIt Pro is ideal for planning cruises, multi-city vacations, road trips and weddings. [Note: I’ll be trying out TripIt Pro throughout the year, compliments of TripIt.]; Available: iPhone and Android. Free.

When you’re on a tight schedule (which I usually am) and don’t have time to hire a New York City tour guide, download the UrbanWonderer app for an audio walking tour to see and learn about more than 100 sites. This walking tour was created by licensed NYC tour guide Steven Craig Sickles and offers fun and informative walking tours through some of the Big Apple’s favorite neighborhoods, including Central Park, Greenwich Village and SoHo. The app also offers a non-narrated map of the Chelsea Art Galleries. The walking tour covers the city’s history, landmarks, best restaurants, film and television shooting locations, and art galleries and shops.

Me with Jim Cantore(!) of The Weather Channel, 2009 Presidential Inauguration, January 2009
Me with Jim Cantore(!) of The Weather Channel, 2009 Presidential Inauguration, January 2009

The Weather; Available: iPhone, iPad, and Free.

I know people usually duck for cover when seeing Jim Cantore in the vicinity but I’m a fan and had to post the photo of him and I together during the 2009 Presidential Inauguration. I digress…In conjunction with partner Toyota, The Weather Channel has launched planning tools ideal for travelers whether in planning mode.

Screen Shot of The Weather Channel's Travel Route Planner
Screen Shot of The Weather Channel’s Travel Route Planner

The Weather Channel iPhone app has been on my device but it has new features terrific for traveling. Within the app, select the radar map then the car icon and plan your route. In real time, you can view the weather conditions as you reach your final destination. You can also view weather conditions in layers. For instance, you can view the radar, or just clouds, or just the “feels like” temperature, among other options. Also included is a new Hurricane Central section.

The Weather Channel app for iPad has a new Travel Button (the suitcase icon) which provides historical weather information to show coldest, hottest, driest and wettest months. The app also includes maps, images, seven-day weather data, and comparative weather phrases.
When it comes to planning your route for the ultimate road trip, visit for the Road Trip Planner. Weather conditions along driving routes are shown and integrates with mobile web browsers, so go ahead, email that link to yourself then check it when you’re on the fly. Enter a trip to see weather info, and create an itinerary for trip information from Yelp.

DEALS; Free.

Do you wish there was one site to visit rather than receiving daily (or multi-daily) emails from those flash deal sites? TikTakTo may be a solution. It’s a deal site that aggregates flash deal sites such as Living Social and Groupon but also incorporates social media and online retail sites (such as Etsy) to bring the best deal to users. It finds deals geo-locally and by category. This is just not a travel site, it includes anything under the sun that can be sold, including hotel packages, restaurant deals, attraction tickets, spa services and more.

Mophie Juice

What’s the biggest complaint about iPhones? The batteries don’t last long, right? Especially when using a lot of data, such as social media, taking and uploading photos and videos. My mophie juice pack air® – iPhone 4 & 4S Battery Case – (PRODUCT) RED™ ($79.95) has saved me several time in the energy department during those days when I didn’t have the ability to charge my phone yet I still needed to be connected to the outside world. Although it’s cracked around the edges, cosmetically it’s a little beat up but it still holds a charge. Other cases are available as well as charging cases for iPhone 5.

Justin Power Case Charges Your iPad and Another Device
Justin Power Case Charges Your iPad and Another Device; Image Source: Innovative Technology

Justin Power

I haven’t tried this out yet but earlier this month, Innovative Technology (@it_products) introduced the Justin Power Case (#justincase), a light-weight iPad case with a built-in 11,600 mAh rechargeable battery to keep the iPad it houses along with another tablet, smartphone or other mobile electronic device, powered up so users can stay connected anywhere, anytime. Available in a variety of colors and styles, MRSP is $69.99.


Traveling alone not lonely is my mission. I’m not so sure about sharing a room with strangers but if that floats your boat, check out Easynest. The concept is whether one or two people are in a room, you pay the same price. As a solo traveler, you pay the full price but Easynest is determined to bring friends-who-haven’t-met-yet together to share accommodations and split accommodations. Registration is free using your Facebook profile.

Following are a few reviews I’ve done on apps and eBooks:

Before making a purchase and/or downloading and using these applications and program, I encourage you to do your research to determine what’s the best fit for you.



Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

3 thoughts on “Travel Technology and Gadgets to Make Your 2013 Summer Vacation Easier

  1. UrbanWanderer sounds like something I might try when I head up to Boston next week. That layover app might come in handy this fall too.

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