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TripAdvisor is perfect for travelers on the go

by Caitlin M. Foyt

TripAdvisor for your Android phone seems like the most perfect app to have on hand when you're traveling. Not only does it help you find nearby hotels, restaurants and attractions, but it lets you know which one's aren't worth your time, and why.

TripAdvisor's main purpose is to serve as a reference tool to find out what other people have thought of the businesses you might encounter while traveling, and for you to leave your own feedback as well. It definitely serves its purpose: users will find that they can access more than 40 million different reviews and opinions while on the go.

But, this app is more than a database of reviews. You can literally plan your entire trip from start to finish using this single application.

To start, book your airfare. It works just like popular travel-planning web sites Travelocity and Expedia (in fact, this app actually uses these sources), so you don't have to visit tons of different web sites to find a price or travel date that works for you. What's especially great about this is that instead of directing you to an outside web site, the entire booking process is kept within the confines of the application.

The process works the same way when booking lodging or accommodations. Just choose the city, property type (hotels, bed & breakfasts, inns) and your price range.

There's a travel forum if you have a question or are looking for helpful tips. Search the forum with a keyword or a question, visit the destination forums and search by the region you'll be visiting, or check out "Other Forums." This has tons of different, specific "This is the kind of trip I'm on" categories, such as "ecotourism," "senior travel," "honeymoons and romance" or "Olympics," for example.

Your ability to be so specific while searching is what I love most about this application. Try searching for a restaurant. Search by city and price range, and then select the type of cuisine you're craving. Chinese? Sushi? Soups or salads? Italian? Those are all on there, and so are about 35 others, including some that people might consider to be pretty obscure like barbecue, British, Cajun and Creole and Caribbean, for example. You can also specify what kind of dining atmosphere you're looking for: "Romantic", "families with children," "large groups" and "entertaining clients" are just some of the options.

The same can be said when you're searching for attractions. Just punch in the city and then the type of activity you're looking for. Again, there are way too many possible categories for me to list. Here are some examples: "history and culture," "museums," "sightseeing," "parks and gardens," "gambling," "zoo/aquarium" and "getting married."

You can check out what's nearby at any given point by clicking the "Near Me Now" tab. Because you have the option to search what's available to you on the road, you might learn about unexpected, really great places. This also alleviates the pressure of having every single detail of your trip planned in advance.