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December 23, 2013

Travel apps that'll make your trips easier

Need to book a hotel at the last minute? Want to find cheap gas?

Just in time for the holiday travel season, we thought we'd recommend some apps that could make your trip — whether it's by plane, train, car or bike — a little less stressful. We consulted with travel experts, including the folks at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and The Washington Post's own app expert, Hayley Tsukayama. Thanks, too, to Aimee Custis, communications director at the Coalition for Smarter Growth.

We've tried to focus on free apps, organized by mode of travel. If there are apps out there that you love, please feel free to share them with us.

(Note: Unless otherwise noted, all apps listed are available for iOS and Android devices.)

Driving

Travelers will fill the nation's highways this holiday season. According to AAA, 86 million people are expected to drive to their holiday destination.

Headed to see relatives? RoadNinja could make that trip a little easier (and save you some money). RoadNinja tracks your location and lets you know the price of gas at stations at upcoming exits. It also lets you know what's at exits in the opposite direction just in case gas is cheaper going that way. The app also will tell you which restaurants, shops and other attractions are just down the road.

If your travels take you through Virginia, the Virginia Department of Transportation has its VDOT 511 app. When you switch on this app, the first thing you'll see is the following warning: "DO NOT USE THIS APP WHILE DRIVING." It's a straightforward app, without a lot of fancy doodads or graphics. It gives you travel times for the state's major routes tied to your current location. The "Basic map" tab will show you a color-coded map that helps spot delays. There's also a link to VDOT Twitter messages grouped by region.

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