Pocketful of help: Phone apps that improve travel

Vacations are getting an upgrade thanks to new travel apps that take some of the guesswork out of going places. Bradley Hasemeyer, a contributor to the online tech guide Gear Patrol, has the lowdown on which apps you'll need on your next trip:

Day One: Best captain's log app

Day One is a journal that you don't have to hide in a locked drawer or under your bed. It's a simple, passcode-protected journaling app for iOS and Mac. Each entry you make is automatically location-stamped. Users can add photos, and posts can be organized by tags and quickly located through a timeline and a calendar.

Hasemeyer said, "My father, I remember when we were younger, would keep a travel journal. He would have this log, and we would go to the beach, and he would be like, 'We played putt-putt today.' It's essentially the same thing."

CamDictionary: Best pocket translator app

Street signs, storefronts, brochures, maps and directions - all are essential for navigation, but useless if you can't understand them. CamDictionary allows users to simply photograph a piece of text they don't understand, and the app will translate it for you. It recognizes up to 16 languages, including non-Romanized languages like Chinese (simplified and traditional), Korean and Japanese.

VSCO Cam: Best insta-filter app

VSCO Cam is ideal for people who love to share photos but don't necessarily care for popularity contests. It comes loaded with filter presets and editing tools, and the camera function itself is a step above the default iPhone camera, with centering tools and grid overlays. Pictures can be shared over the VSCO Grid, a proprietary sharing network, but if you do have a following, VSCO can also export your photos to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Weibo.

Hotel Tonight: Best procrastination app

Not everyone plans trips down to the last letter. With HotelTonight, you can literally wait until the last minute to book a hotel room. The app aggregates a bevy of unbooked hotel rooms in your area, offered at ludicrous discounts for last-minute bookers to snatch up. If risk is your thrill, HotelTonight can deliver great reward.

Havermeyer says, "HotelTonight is awesome, especially for metropolitan areas or an area that would have higher-end hotels."

Dark Sky: Best pocket weatherman app

Plan all you want, but Mother Nature has her own schedule. With Dark Sky, you can at least keep close tabs. Using its own proprietary forecast system, Dark Sky gives you a 24-hour forecast for every day in the upcoming week. You get the temperature, humidity, dew point, air pressure and visibility - and when there's a storm a-brewin', Dark Sky will notify you of its exact time of impact, as well as how severe it might be.

Hipmunk: Best booking app

Hipmunk is blowing up and not just because of their cutesy mascot. The service aggregates available flights and hotel rooms just as well as your typical travel app (Kayak, Expedia and so on), if not better. What really sets Hipmunk apart from the old guard is its clean, intuitive interface. Instead of being bombarded with numbers and acronyms, your flight options are laid out in a neat, comprehensible timetable; similarly, you can select hotels from a map rather than a list.

And for more well-traveled smartphone apps, visit Gear Patrol.