With summer around the corner, it’s time to get ready for that next vacation! Download these three apps before hitting the open road or taking to the friendly skies.

Waze maps are smart navigation made easy

1. Waze – Beat the heat and the traffic with this awesome GPS app that avoids speeding tickets, rush hour traffic and has the cutest graphics around.

Whether you’re heading out of town for vacation, dealing with the daily commute, or contemplating driving up and down the 405 on ANY day of the week, it’s time to ditch the preloaded map apps on your phone.

Waze is the best of the best in navigation, taking “crowdsourced” data (basically info from other users) and folding it into GPS directions. Waze factors in info on police speed traps, accidents and real-time traffic data to get to you your next destination fast. It offers side-street routes and even tells you where to find the cheapest gas along your route. Even though Google bought Waze last year, Google Maps still doesn’t do what this app does. Graphics are “cuter” too and user friendly. You even score points for contributing data, because when we’re on vacation, we still feel the need to achieve.

Get It Now: www.waze.com

2. Doodle – The free scheduling tool that gets your crew to agree on what weekend works best for that trip to Miami… without exchanging 163 emails or getting into a fight.

Doodle makes it easy to see which day works best

So you want to plan a trip to Nantucket for Labor Day weekend with your closest 20 friends? You do the obvious and start emailing your crew to suggest dates. Soon, you have 52 new emails in your inbox, the trip is now being pushed into October and you’re going to Aruba. Whoa. How did that happen?

Doodle takes the drama out of planning that magical weekend by creating a simple “poll” where everyone can say what dates work for them and see what works best for the group. Rather than bombarding folks with endless emails, Doodle sends everyone a link to your poll where they can check off the days and times they’re available and post any comments. While it’s free to sign up and create unlimited polls, Doodle also offers paid accounts that will let you do even more like sync polls with your calendar, send automatic reminders, and show who hasn’t responded.

Get It Now: www.doodle.com

3. Hipmunk – Book your next flight based on price and “agony” factor. Because traveling is already hard enough when you’re paying for pillows.

Hipmunk searches flights by agony factor

Once you’ve agreed on a date for that getaway weekend, find flights and fares with this service named a Google Play Editor’s Pick. Hipmunk is a website and mobile app that sorts flight options not just based on lowest price but also on “agony” factors such as flight time and number of stopovers. Who wants to suffer through a 3 hour wait in Boise to get to Chi-town for that meeting? I used to be a Kayak devotee but am turning my favor to Hipmunk because of its ease of use, cheap fares and fast results.

Get It Now: www.hipmunk.com

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