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ShopSmart Spotlights the Best Online Road-Trip Planners and Travel Apps

ShopSmart MagazineYonkers, NY – There are tons of online sites to help you plan your summer getaways this season, and the June 2012 issue of ShopSmart magazine, from the publisher of Consumer Reports, highlights some of the best.

There are great road-trip planning websites and must-see travel apps that can help you plot your route, find fun adventures – even on a moment’s notice – and save you money.

“With the right websites and apps, this summer’s vacation planning can be a cinch!” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. “These tools can help you do everything from plan the perfect road-trip filled with attractions to nab a deal on a hotel room at the last minute.”

Road-Trip Planners

Best for mapping your route:

AAA.com:  You don’t have to be a member of the travel club to use this site’s helpful trip-planning tools (and TripTik app). Click on the travel tab to get started, then use the TripTiks to plan your adventure, including points of interest, with round-trip directions.
Cool tool: Look under “Member discounts” for hotel and meal deals.

Best for finding attractions:

RoadTripAmerica.com:  The site is loaded with tips on how to plan a great road trip, find roadside attractions, and budget fuel costs. The map-based trip planner has nine categories of attractions, including natural wonders, parks and recreation, and events, and it can tell you a little about each of them.
Cool tool: The Road Trip Compatibility Quiz analyzes how compatible you are with your trip mates.

Best for locating national parks and scenic byways:

US-Parks.com:  This site lists all the parks, including scenic, wide-open spaces in the West and historical East Coast attractions. It will alert you if a site has specific restrictions (no campfires, for example), and it will pinpoint nearby hotels and campgrounds.
Cool tool: The road-trip planner offers predetermined routes that allow you to take in several parks and monuments in one trip, depending on the time you have available.

Best for planning a trip with your furry family members:

TripsWithPets.com  This site will help you find pet-friendly hotels as well as pet policies for major airlines, hotels, and rental-car chains.
Cool tool: Review hotel choices and book your rooms through the site.

Must-See Travel Apps

Best for helpful features:  Booking.com
Prices are fairly standard on this app, but last-minute travelers will appreciate that you can filter results to see, for example, only pet-friendly hotels or those with free parking or an airport shuttle service.

Best for same-day hotel deals:  Hotel Tonight
This easy-to-navigate app has lots of same-day hotel deals, and you can’t beat the prices. Deals show up at noon local time for each city on the app. Hotel Tonight categorizes hotels using its own labels: Luxe, Hip, Solid, Basic, and Charming.

Best for researching deals:  Kayak
The app, like the website, allows you to search for days and months ahead of your trip. It shows you prices on hotels, flights, cars, tours, and other services all in one place; just be sure to compare prices with those at Hotels.com, Hotwire, and Orbitz. Kayak’s app generally offers the same deals as its site, but the other apps often beat its prices.

About Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website, and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

About ShopSmart Magazine

Launched in Fall 2006 by Consumer Reports, ShopSmart draws upon the publication’s celebrated tradition of accepting no advertisements and providing unbiased product reviews. ShopSmart features product reviews, shopping tips on how to get the most out of products and “best of the best” lists. It’s ideal for busy shoppers who place a premium on time. ShopSmart has a newsstand price of $4.99 and is available nationwide at major retailers including Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart, Borders, Kroger, Safeway and Publix. ShopSmart is available by subscription at www.ShopSmartmag.org.


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