NEW YORK — With the busy summer vacation season quickly approaching, The Associated Press asked several travel experts about their favorite tools for travel. Needless to say, applications for Apple's iPhone and iPad were high on most lists, but there are still plenty of great tools out there for other smartphone users and even those with just regular cell phones.
Ray LaHood, U.S. Secretary of Transportation: "When I fly for work or to visit my family, I want a flight that will be on time. That's why I'm glad passengers can now check the websites of the larger airlines to find the on-time record of each of the flights they are considering before they purchase a ticket. You can learn how often that flight arrives on time – within 15 minutes of schedule – as well as how often it arrives more than 30 minutes late. You also can find out if a flight has been canceled 5 percent or more of the time."
Rob Katz, chairman and CEO Vail Resorts: "When I'm traveling around the U.S. I use Yelp. It helps me quickly find almost any amenity and has reviews and additional information. I also use Open Table quite a bit."
Christopher J. Nassetta, president and CEO Hilton Worldwide: "I never leave for a trip without my iPad. Not only do I keep connected to the office on it via email and other applications, but I also keep current with the news, such as reading the Wall Street Journal online. When I'm traveling with my kids, it has also come in handy to have some games loaded on my iPad to keep them busy."
Samantha Brown, Travel Channel host: "I spent all last year traveling to Asia and after weeks of being fed a TV diet of only the BBC I could hum their theme music with absolute perfection and imitate up to four distinct British accents. So for me Slingbox is one of the most ingenious ideas I had ever heard for the international traveler. Essentially thru a box and a program, my laptop becomes my home TV so no matter where I am in the world I can watch my favorite DVRed shows from 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' to '30 Rock' to 'Meet the Press.' Only problem? Even 10,000 miles away my husband and I can still fight over the remote."
Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger, retired U.S. Airways pilot: "Some helpful websites when booking travel include SeatGuru.com, TripAdvisor.com, Kayak.com, Yapta.com, and Bing.com. INRIX Traffic helps get you to the airport on time by showing traffic speeds and delays, and can even predict traffic speeds at certain times. When traveling, Weather.com is always a great help and the AirWX app is a tool that pilots use to get detailed aviation weather reports and forecasts, but it's also useful for the general public to check weather at departure and arrival airports because the reports are decoded into plain language. Also, FlightAware.com provides live flight tracking, iTranslate.com is useful for international travel and MileBlaster.com tracks the use of frequent flier miles."
Pauline Frommer, travel guidebook writer: "When I get out of New York City I like to do something I can't do at home: look at the stars. I really enjoy the app Star Walk as it allows me to recognize constellations, even if I'm on the other side of the world and the night sky looks quite different. Sounds silly, but it really enhances my travels, especially when I'm in a nature destination and there's not much to look at but the night sky."
Nina Zagat, co-founder of Zagat Survey: "When Tim and I are traveling in our car, we love having our in-car navigation system to guide us and our Bluetooth to make our calls. I rely on my BlackBerry for my contacts, itineraries and packing lists as well as to keep up with my emails and to have a handy nightlight."
Thomas Stuker, United Airlines top frequent flier with 9.75 million miles: "My two favorites, especially with all the international travel is Skype – both on my computer and now on my phone – to stay connected with friends and business associates around the world for just pennies and my second one is Slingbox – again on both my computer and my phone – so I can watch my Bulls and Blackhawks in the playoffs as well as my Cubbies attempt in vain to win the World Series for the 100-plus year in a row."
Scott Mayerowitz can be reached at http://twitter.com/GlobeTrotScott