Pack your bags efficiently

Between flight delays, crowded airports, and juggling luggage, travel can be stressful. But with a little planning, you can make your trip a little easier from start to finish. So rather than gathering up a collection of apps that just help you book flights, I decided to make a different kind of travel collection.

Packing Pro ($2.99) gets you ready for your big trip before you leave by making sure you'll have everything you need while away from home.

If you like to make lists, this app is a dream come true for planning a vacation. You start by creating your trip entry, then add everything from pretrip preparations to every item of clothing you're going to need -- all by choosing each item from an exhaustive premade list.

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Kayak still finds the best flights

Kayak (free) is one of two flight search apps in this collection, but it is an old standby for finding low-cost flights, and it's still one of the best for quick trip planning. If you need to book a hotel, flight, or rental car, or you just need a little advice before going on a trip, this is the app to have.

Kayak searches through popular sites like Travelocity, Expedia, and Orbitz, all at the same time, and gives you current rates and itineraries that can all be booked in just a few clicks.

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Get the perfect time for your flight

Hipmunk (free) takes some of the hassle out of finding the best flight by showing you several possible flights on a timeline, then letting you sort by various criteria to find the best flight for you. Like any good travel app, Hipmunk offers buttons to quickly select your departure and destination airports and the dates you want to travel, and then you can select the number of travelers. Hit the Search for Flights button to get the best flights available.

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All the important info in one place

TripIt Travel Organizer (free) keeps all your most important travel information in one place so you're not desperately searching through e-mail inboxes for hotel addresses or flight confirmation numbers. With TripIt everything is accessible and organized within the app -- even when you're offline.

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Know your airports

Airports by TravelNerd (free) is your guide to the layouts, shops, resources, and more at 70 of the most popular airports. While it's not something we usually think about on an exciting vacation adventure, it's worthwhile to know the lay of the land when you get to a big airport.

The app tells you where everything is so you can pick the best food to eat during a long layover, gives you terminal maps so you know the fastest path to your flight during a short layover, and other helpful resources. You also get airport parking options and prices, along with store and restaurant hours so you're completely dialed in.

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Your ride needs to know when you land

Just Landed ($1.99) is not exactly an app for the holiday traveler per se, but instead uses your GPS location and current flight schedules to help you pick the exact time to go pick up your friend or family member from the airport. So rather than the traveler, this app is for the person at the destination.

The way the app works is, once you've gotten your friend's flight information, you can enter the flight number into the app to get the latest info about the flight on travel day, including whether the flight was delayed or will arrive early. From there, you can simply go about your day until the app notifies you (you'll need to keep notifications on) when it's time to leave for the airport in time to pick your friend up.

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Share your trip as it happens

HipGeo (free) lets you tell the story of your holiday with images, videos, text, tags, and more, all tied to your geolocation. You start by signing up through Facebook or Twitter, then you can choose people to share your travels with.

Once signed up, what you get is your own personal travel blog with an interactive map. As you travel, you can take pictures, shoot video, or write your thoughts, and your friends and family can follow you on your journey using a Web browser. The map might be the best thing of all because it shows every place you went and the photos, videos, and other content you have connected to each location.

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Find the best stuff around you

Lunchbox (free) is a fun way to find local food and drink spots based on the reviews of people who have already been there. Whether you're on vacation or just want to find something new, Lunchbox makes food and drink discovery a snap.

All you have to do is pick among categories that include Food and Restaurants, Coffee and Tea, or Bars and Nightclubs. Then, Lunchbox lists out the names of places near your GPS location, colorful pictures of the venues, and short reviews written by people who have been there.

This one can be used in your city as well, but it's especially useful when you're looking for a good place while on vacation.

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Let the social networks give you advice

LocalScope ($1.99) is a social-data-powered GPS app that culls info from several popular social networks to bring you information about what is near your current location. Other apps use your GPS to show you shops and restaurants in your area, but with LocalScope you get more than just listings, with photos, tweets, historical information, and more.

In addition to social networks, LocalScope also pulls photos from sites like Picasa and Flickr, showing you recent photos from nearby locations -- a great way to view dishes from a restaurant, for example.

LocalScope is both useful for finding things, and interesting for the sights you can discover. If you want a unique way to find out about what's around you while away on vacation, this app is a great choice.

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