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Banish Travel Woes with These Smart New Tools

Spend more time enjoying your vacation with these new gadgets and apps.

Lost luggage, long lines, expensive rentals... those are just a few of the things that can go wrong during your vacation. But thanks to a slew of new gadgets, tools and apps, you can travel smarter and spend more time enjoying your time off. Take a look at some of our some of our favorite finds:

Fix a busted zipper: One of life’s biggest travel annoyances is a broken suitcase zipper. Enter the FixnZip, a zipper repair kit that simply slides over any broken zipper, instantly replacing any damaged or missing zippers. It also works on tents, sleeping bags, jackets and backpacks ($9.99). 

Make money while you travel: Airport parking is notoriously expensive, but one new travel tool not only saves you money, it also provides travelers the opportunity to earn money while on the road. In short, instead of leaving your car unused at the airport, FlightCar, the world’s first peer-to-peer car sharing company to operate at airports, rents your vehicle out to other approved travelers. It’s free to join.

Do more with less stuff: Buckshot, a new, portable, 3-in-1 wireless speaker, helps you lighten up your suitcase without sacrificing gear. With this one durable, water-resistant gadget, you get a Bluetooth-enabled speaker system, a flashlight with three settings and a USB port that doubles as a portable battery. Plus, each speaker comes with a bike mount, a microphone for calls and a shock-resistant body. ($39.95)

Keep in touch: Have you ever taken a trip into the wilderness and not been able to make an important call because of the poor cell reception? Or maybe you’ve been charged with pricey roaming fees. Never worry about getting lost or disconnected again with goTenna, which allows you to text with other users within a few miles or share your location, making that next camping trip a breeze. ($150 for two)

Connect with others: Ever wanted to go rock climbing, but didn’t have anyone to do it with? Or maybe you couldn’t afford a pricey tour guide. Thanks to a new app called Gociety, now you can connect with other outdoor enthusiasts near your destination and find buddies for any adventure, from white water kayaking, biking, skiing or even running. Experienced adventurers can show you secret hikes and the best trails, so you’ll never miss the best sights on your next trip.

Find lost luggage: In partnership with MakeMyTrip.com and Vacation.com, Blue Ribbon Bags will track and expedite all of your luggage for a low $5 fee—but even better, the company will pay a minimum of $1,000 per lost bag, or for bags not returned within four days of your flight’s arrival. Never worry about checking your bag again.

Get a customized guided road trip: Your next road trip just got a whole lot more interesting thanks to a new app called Just Ahead—simply download the app to your smartphone and listen as it’s transformed into a hands-free, professionally-led audio tour at six national parks, including Yosemite, Zion and Cedar Breaks, Bryce Canyon, Joshua Tree, Grand Canyon and Death Valley (nearly a dozen more guides will launch this summer). You don’t even need cell coverage or an Internet connection—the app uses GPS to determine where you are on the road and delivers relevant stories and maps right to you. Just Ahead also helps drivers avoid getting lost by providing helpful suggested directions. The app is free, but guides start at $7.99.

Make smart packing lists—for free! Never forget your sunglasses again with the new app PackPoint. The app will ask you key questions about your trip (destination, duration, weather, activities, etc.) and provide you with a comprehensive packing list you can check off as you go, or customize to your specific needs. You can even share the list with your friends and family; even better—it’s free on iOS and Android.

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