13 Innovative Travel Tools To Simplify Your Holidays

Covering everything from what to pack to where to go to how to get there, these apps, gadgets (and an ostrich pillow!) help take the edge off your holiday travel stress.

From figuring out what to pack to planning an agenda appealing enough for the whole family, traveling can be a nightmare. But with the help of a few apps and gadgets designed to ease each step of the way, you can free up time to do more of what the holidays are meant for: relaxing. Here, we’ve rounded up 13 tools to help you make it to 2013 in one piece:


Ever spend 10 minutes wandering around an airport terminal in search of elusive bathrooms or charging stations? This free iOS app feature custom maps of terminals at the world’s 50 highest-traffic airports and includes locations of gates, bathrooms, ground transportation, and more. A cab-sharing feature lets you find fellow travelers headed in the same direction so you can meet up and split fares.

These slick, silicone squeeze tubes from Humangear are easy to fill, drip-free, and come with built-in suction cups so you can slap them onto the shower wall. Little adjustable windows let you mark what each bottle contains so you don’t mix up your soap and your conditioner. From $6.95.
Read More: Wanted: The Ultimate Travel Shampoo Bottle

Pack & Go
Just accept it now: You will forget to pack something you meant to bring on vacation. But with Pack & Go’s $0.99 iOS app, hopefully it won’t be anything too important. Choose from several pre-made packing lists, or personalize a list of your own by scanning the hundreds of items listed in the app.


Discreetly crush pills and keep track of prescription medications on the go with these sleek and portable accessories for your pharmaceuticals, created by entrepreneur Assaf Wand and Fuseproject’s Yves Béhar.
Read More: Yves Béhar and Assaf Wand Do A Sleek Take On Baby Boomer Staples

When you’re deciding whether or not to check out a new spot, lots of factors can affect the decision-making process: Where is it? What does it look like? What are other people saying about it? Localscope tries to answer all those questions within a single iOS app]iOS app[/url] by pulling in geo-tagged information from more than a dozen search engines, social networks, and other sharing apps. Within Localscope, you can check out a spot’s exact location on Google Places, see photos on Instagram and videos on YouTube, read Yelp reviews, and more. If you find yourself frequenting the same city often, there’s a handy feature that lets you add geo-tagged reminders for your next visit–for example, you can tell Localscope to ping you with a reminder to try the enchiladas the next time you visit that Mexican restaurant you liked.

Ostrich Pillow
For $99, you can bury yourself in the depths of this pillow-cushion-bed-garment-thing, otherwise known as the Ostrich Pillow by Studio Banana. An opening for your nose and mouth lets you breathe easy as you snooze, while giant holes that hover above your ears provide snugly cave-like getaways for your hands. A word of caution: It is very likely that if you actually try to nap in public with this thing on your head, people will not leave you alone.


When you’re navigating foreign soil, even if it’s just one town over, it can be a nightmare to not have Internet access when you’re trying to get directions, locate a bus station, or otherwise make sense of where you are. So a few ex-Googlers created this free app for iOS and Android to provide directionally challenged travelers with access to maps, guides, and a travel journal feature, all of which are available offline.
Read More: Triposo’s Travel App Lets You Plan And Journal Your Next Trip, Even When You’re Offline

Google Field Trip
Google Field Trip is an Android app that acts as a personal, virtual tour guide. As you explore a neighborhood, Field Trip runs in the background and serves up a constant stream of tidbits about monuments, shops, restaurants, and other attractions based on your current location. It also periodically offers deals for you to take advantage of nearby. To keep it more useful than annoying, you can control the kind of information and frequency with which Field Trip alerts you.

Sometimes the best part of exploring a new place is stumbling upon interesting landmarks en route to your final destination. Tell this iOS app where you want to go and it’ll send you off on a path peppered with local attractions, such as parks and landmarks.


An iOS and Android app from Charmin maps out more than 100,000 public potties around the country, sourced by users who can also recommend whether to, ahem, “sit” or “squat.” Because when you gotta go…

Dror For Tumi, International Expandable Carry-On
Designer Dror Benshetrit’s line of lustworthy luggage for Tumi includes this carry-on, $895, which can expand up to five inches without a zipper mechanism. The end result? A bag that can, like magic, fit anywhere from 31 to 61 liters.
Read More: Dror’s Magical Expandable Suitcase For Tumi Is Fit For Mary Poppins

Airbnb Neighborhoods
Barring the Empire State Buildings and Eiffel Towers of the world, many travelers exploring a new city are bound to miss out on sights around town because they’re a bit more obscure or off the beaten path. Airbnb’s new guides–which launched in November with 300 neighborhoods across New York, Paris, London, San Francisco, Berlin, Washington D.C., and Rio de Janeiro–provide guests access to guides that feature a compendium of must-see sights, all suggested by locals.
Read More: How Airbnb’s New Neighborhoods Feature Can Revive Local Economies


As any good roadie knows, not all rest stops are created equal. Whether you’re looking for a gas station, a restroom, or a room, iExit app for iOS and Android shows you what’s coming up at the next 100 exits, including any deals being offered. Only want to find exits with Crunchwrap Supremes? You can tell iExit to show you only exits that have Taco Bells.

[Image: Flickr user Helga Weber]


About the author

Christina is an associate editor at Fast Company, where she writes about technology, social media, and business.