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The Ultimate Guide to Travel Apps

Smartphone travel apps may be all the rage, but with so many to choose from, where do you even begin to look? This is your first—and last—stop in the hunt for the best travel apps on the market.

MANAGE YOUR TIME The vast range of activities found on today's mega-ships can be overwhelming—Waterslides! Rock climbing! Casinos!—but Ship Mate makes managing your time a painless proposition. Set up a daily schedule (for Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Princess, Celebrity, Holland America, Costa, or MSC cruises—plus Disney Cruises on the Android version), peruse deck maps, and plan excursions using the app's guides, which include prices for each outing. $2 each. Download it: Android, iPhone/iPad.

 

ROAD TRIPS

KEEP THE KIDS ENTERTAINED When I Spy has lost its appeal half an hour into the drive, enlist RoadTripBingo to entertain your junior crew through even the dullest stretches of highway. There are thousands of 25-square grids to play, with targets both ordinary (a hotel) and more obscure (a cactus). Even kids too young to grasp the game will get a kick out of tapping the icons and shaking the screen clear. Android, $1; iPhone, iPad, $2. Download it: Android , iPhone/iPad.

CHART YOUR COURSE It was only a matter of time before Google took its ubiquitous map technology to the next level with a full-fledged GPS service. Google Maps Navigation bundles all the best features of its popular mapping site—such as satellite images, street views, and traffic news—with voice search, step-by-step audio directions, and speedy rerouting options after a wrong turn. Garmin, you've been warned. Free. Download it: Android .

TAKE A DETOUR What better place to stretch your legs than at the home of the World's Largest Rubber Band Ball? Roadside America pinpoints wacky pit stops from coast to coast in six separate regional editions, with real-time GPS suggestions for a worthy detour near you. Buy only the area you need, or upgrade for access to all 6,000-plus oddities. $3 per region ($6 more for all six). Download it: iPhone/iPad.

FILL UP FOR LESS With gas prices soaring yet again, it's no wonder that GasBook's service-station directory is consistently among the highest-rated travel apps. The tool uses GPS to map nearby stations and frequently updates standard prices with user-submitted data. You can also search by fuel grade or brand and bookmark your favorite local locations for everyday fill-ups. $1. Download it: iPhone/iPad.

 

ON THE GROUND

LOOK LIKE A LOCAL Because some things just require visuals, Howcast's user-generated video tutorials cover everything from taxi strategies in New York City to the proper consumption of soba in Japan to nude-beach etiquette. (Then again, maybe some things don't belong in a video.) The short clips load quickly and particularly shine on the larger-format iPad. Free. Download it: Android, BlackBerry, iPhone/iPad.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
 

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