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December 23, 2013

Travel apps that'll make your trips easier

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There are lots of apps that will help you track your flights, but here are two recommended by our frequent fliers:

The FlightAware app will allow you to track your flight (or that of your loved one). You can check individual airports for delays. A map will show you the flights arriving and departing into the airport of your choice. As a reporter who writes about airports, I find the FlightAware website indispensable.

The free version of Flight Tracker operates much the same as FlightAware. Input your flight information and it will tell you what type of aircraft you'll be flying, advise you of any delays and tell you the gate from which you'll be departing. It also gives you a weather forecast for your destination. A minor quibble: I wish the app had the same pull-down menu of airlines that FlightAware offers.

If you get stuck or perhaps you're looking for an escape from all that family togetherness, Hotel Tonight offers same-night reservations of hotels close to where you are. We love the ranking system, which includes categories such as "luxe," "solid," "basic" and "hip." The gold bed next to your selection is the "high roller" category.

Train

Amtrak's mobile app offers all the basics: It will allow you to book tickets and check schedules and train status. The welcome screen has a lovely shot of a train against a scenic background. (A second app offers Amtrak's glossy on-train magazine, Arrive). It gets pretty good reviews from users, though one said he wished service alerts were available directly from the app, noting that it's not always convenient to go to the website.

Weather

Part of traveling is knowing what the weather will be at your destination. Some folks are perfectly happy with the weather app that's packaged with their phone, but many want a bit more.

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