My TSA (free; iOS)
What it is: Answers to the Transportation Security Administration's most frequently asked questions, plus travelers (often-outdated) reports of how long you must wait in the security checkpoint line at any U.S. airport.
How it works: The no-frills, well-organized app is easy to search. Tap "Can I Bring?" to search a database of packables to see whether it's allowed and, if so, under what restrictions. Tap "Guide" to find out about acceptable IDs, tips for packing and dressing, and other advice to get you through airport security quicker. You can also get current weather at airports, on-time performance for your airport (not by airline, however) and wait times.
Why it's great: My TSA is easier to use on a phone than www.tsa.gov, so you find answers to your questions faster. It'll help you plan to avoid delays.
Why you might hesitate: The only downer is that wait times usually are quite out of date, but that's not the app's fault. It relies on travelers like you and me to type in how long we waited in the checkpoint line. The more people do it and the more often they do it, the more reliable this part of the app will become. For now, think of My TSA as a handy place to answer all of your airport security questions (except, "How long is the wait time?").
Whom it's for: Travelers who plan ahead.
Viator Tours and Activities (free; iOS)
What it is: A convenient collection of things to do in cities and regions throughout the world, organized by day and reviewed by other users. Plus, you can book tours and activities through the app. Nice!
How it works: Choose a city to see "What Can I do Today?" and beyond. You'll get a list of tours with prices and users star ratings. Pick an activity to see where it is and its time schedule. If it's right for you, tap Book Now. Viator also links you to nearby hotels and attractions, current and upcoming deals and discounts, and the city's top attractions.
Why it's great: Helpful user reviews, updated prices and the ability to search for tours and activities that pick you up from your hotel, for instance, make this app a great way to answer, "Well, what should we do today?"
Why you might hesitate: Not all cities and regions are covered (Want to know what to do in Alabama? Sorry, this app can't help you.) Some tours and activities require a printed voucher, though you are told this before you pay. At least you'll already know the event's times and locations, so you can call ahead for more info on making reservations.
Whom it's for: Travelers who like to play it by ear, with some assurance that a good time will be had by all.
HomeAway (free; iOS, Android)
What it is: HomeAway.com's app is a photographic collection of vacation rentals the world over, in varying price ranges by the day and by the week.
How it works: Search by city, price range, number of travelers who'll be sleeping or check-in date. Scan the location on a map, see the amenities and read the user reviews before deciding whether to email the owner for more information.
Why it's great: With more than 250,000 rentals, HomeAway lets you vacation like a resident, not like a tourist.
Why you might hesitate: The app doesn't let you search by amenities, so you can't look for only homes near water, say, or with a pool.
Whom it's for: Travelers who want to feel at home away from home.Copyright © 2015, CT Now