Seven useful mobile apps for Labor Day weekend travel

Here are seven mobile apps that could make your Labor Day weekend getaway, far or local, as smooth as possible.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Labor Day weekend is finally upon us. Instead of mourning the end of summer, take the weekend by charge and celebrate as best you can. Here are seven mobile apps that could make your weekend getaway, far or local, as smooth as possible.

THE WEATHER CHANNELThis seems to be the one thing that most travelers often forget about: weather. In all the excitement and stress of packing and getting to the airport, checking the weather just falls off the radar. You can do this in a pinch with an app and some Internet access. The Weather Channel's app is free, covers the world and is very comprehensive. (Not to mention that the iPad version is just fun to play around with.)

Knowing the weather forecast is especially important this time of year, given hurricane season and over-the-top temperatures around the country. Plus, you don't want to be that person who shows up in San Francisco expecting brilliant California sunshine, only to be walking around freezing, wearing bermuda shorts and a t-shirt when the fog rolls in.

GOOGLE MAPS This one might seem like a given, but it is really essential for anyone driving, biking and even walking to their destinations. The best part about this app is that it is available for nearly every operating system, and usually pre-loaded on most smartphones. Sure, the basic search for an address function is obvious, but those of you who have GPS and 3G connections can really make use of all of this app's features. That includes continuous updates of directions from the current location and finding important places near you (like food and bathrooms). You can also take advantage of different map viewpoints, like street view for verifying what a destination looks like or satellite view to search for parking lots, tennis courts and whatnot.

CAR CARE & ROADSIDE EMERGENCIES Hopefully you won't need this one, but better to be safe than sorry. Suggested by Gripd.com, this 99-cent app for the iPhone is a comprehensive, but easy-to-understand guide to common roadside problems. Some examples include changing a tire, dealing with an overheated engine and jump-starting a battery. There's also some useful info to take heed of prior to departure, like checking your car's fluids and tires. Sounds like a useful companion for anyone taking that glorious end-of-summer road map.

AIRLINE APPS This one is easier to group together as many airlines have published mobile apps, so there's a lot to choose from depending on your itinerary. One of the leaders in this arena is Lufthansa, which has mobile apps for iPhone OS, Blackberry, Nokia and Android. Nevertheless, if your chosen airline has an app and it is compatible with your phone, it would be a good idea to download it. These apps are often free of charge, and they include updated information on flight times. If you're lucky, you'll even be able to use a digital boarding pass with your smartphone. So far, this is available with American, Alaska and now Delta.

GATE GURU Many of you will inevitably be stuck in an airport longer than you would like this weekend due to flight delays. Gate Guru is incredibly useful to everyone with a spare hour (or five) because it has accurate listings for food and other amenities, pre- and post-security. The app covers 86 domestic airports, as well as a growing number of international ones, starting with the United Kingdom and Canada. Now you won't have to worry about how limited your options will be post-security again - unless you're on a connecting flight and stuck in one particular terminal. In which case, good luck.

ESPN SCORECENTERJust because you are traveling does not mean you have to miss all of the exciting sporting events going on this weekend. iPhone and iPod touch owners can get continuous updates of over 500 leagues, including coverage of the U.S. Open as well as college football, which finally kicks off this weekend. Other smartphone users can point their browsers to ESPN's Mobile site.

EPICURIOUS Finally, it wouldn't be Labor Day weekend without a good barbecue (or tailgate if you're hitting up a football game). Available for both iPhone OS and Android-based smartphones, Epicurious is ready for this weekend with plenty of summer-themed menu options for all cooking skill levels and budgets. You don't want to show up to the party empty-handed, so there is bound to be something for everyone with this app.


Know of any other apps that would be useful during Labor Day weekend? Share them in the TalkBack section below!

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