_ I’ve recently been on the hunt for more useful applications for both smart-phones and tablets that will come in handy when it comes to travel, dining, and things to do. Because of the high demand, this particular type of app is swamping the app store and made weeding out the bad from the good a difficult task. After downloading and testing out over 15 new applications, I’ve got it narrowed down to a select few that are nothing less than genius. New apps like these are coming out every day so to keep up, the Best Weekends Advance Team is always checking the app store’s newest favorites for innovative ways stay up to date on the latest travel trends and deals on our computers, smart-phones, tablets, and e-readers.

Wenzani- This is an app that found just the right balance between social-networking and trusted guide. Along the lines of a twitter-like layout, Wenzani has a system of “followers” and “followees” that allows you to keep tabs on experts, friends, and businesses that interest you. These trusted sources offer suggestions, advice, and pictures about their experiences from local dining to city sightseeing. You can even ask friends for advice and get their real-time responses and when you visit a new exhibit or check out a new hotel, post your recommendation and thoughts for your “followers” to see.

LonelyPlanet- An encyclopedia of all things travel, this app is a complete guide to many of the major cities in the world. For instance, choose to check out New York, NY and you are handed everything from a detailed background to maps on a silver platter. Pick up useful information about the neighborhoods, things to do, and even the practicalities of getting around with the click of a button. The best part about this app is how thorough the information is. Though only a handful of cities are offered, extensive research and attention to detail are evident.

Jetsetter- An app that will leave you drooling at spectacular dream vacations for deals that you won't find anywhere else, Jetsetter is an innovative tool that promotes some of the worlds greatest trips at the greatest prices.  Browse the constantly changing featured trips for one that might just be what you are looking for, and the vacation packages change by the day so its first come, first served. When you find a trip that’s right for you, snatch up the dates with a couple clicks of a button or put it on hold for up to 72 hours. Even check out reviews on the dream getaways from experts and travelers alike.

Matchbook - This app is surprisingly easy to use, has a simple design, and gets the job done with little effort. Directed at creating a virtual “must remember” list, this app allows you to bookmark bars, restaurants, and shops and leave notes about key features that you liked or disliked. You can also view the bookmarks of others to checkout places that might be worth stopping by. Another cool feature is “walking by”, which allows you to quickly note a place that you caught at a glimpse and would like to return to later.

Ellen Studer

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