Creating a bathroom that maximizes safety without sacrificing style

April 22nd, 2015 by Brenda Bassett

For today’s generation of aging adults, individuality and independence are values they’ve lived out for decades. As the years go by, lifestyle changes become a necessity, due to limited mobility and health concerns, but it doesn’t necessarily mean giving up personality. 

Aging in place, in the comfort of your home, is a priority for countless people. That often means making adjustments to your home, but some alterations can contribute to making your space feel more institutional and less “you.” A balance between style and safety is the key – and finding it is easier than you might think.

One of the most hazardous rooms in the home is the bathroom. Its slippery surfaces and tendency to be crowded with products and objects makes it a hazard for slipping, tripping and other mishaps. As you consider making alterations to your home that enhance security and safety, it’s the logical place to start.

* Clear away clutter. Bottles and jars and grooming tools frequently crowd counters, closets and the corners of tubs and showers. Make use of hangers, shelves and wall-mounted baskets to keep things neatly tucked away, providing a cleaner environment that’s also better looking and less likely to cause trips or spills.

* Bathe in safety. With limited mobility, moving in and out of the tub can be difficult, if not downright dangerous. One renovation solution to that problem is installing a walk-in tub. Premier Care in Bathing, the leader in walk-in bathtubs, offers a variety of tubs that homeowners can simply walk into, close the water-tight door, and fill for a comfortable, relaxing bathing experience. The company’s Walk-in baths and EasyAccess showers configure to your existing space and allow you to maintain the look of your bathroom while enjoying greater ease. 

* Choose rugs carefully. Bath mats and rugs are both functional and decorative. They can add a splash of color while also effectively collecting water that might otherwise pool on the floor and lead to slipping. However, rugs that don’t stay in place can present a problem of their own and lead you to trip. Opt for mats and rugs that have non-skid backing, but which still look harmonious with the rest of your bathroom decor. 

* Bring things up to the right height. Your bathroom routine can be an active one, which can present problems if your health limits your ability to move or bend easily. Having a commode and a sink at a higher level that prevents you from overexertion during your daily routine will add to the comfort and safety of your bathroom. And with options like Premier Care in Bathing’s easy-access sink, you can integrate these new fixtures into your room while maintaining your existing decorative theme.

One of the most important parts of maintaining independence throughout aging is being able to uphold your sense of self. Taking a holistic approach to creating a home environment that meets your needs but still expresses who you are enables you to live life as you choose for a long time to come. For a free brochure including more information about Walk-in bathtubs and other solutions for making living at home more convenient, visit or call  888-378-7953.

Five basic steps to making a house your home

April 14th, 2015 by Brenda Bassett

Owning a home remains a key element of the American Dream. In fact, a recent survey by TD Bank revealed that 84 percent of young renters (ages 18 to 34) intend to buy a home in the future. While it is exciting, home buying can be overwhelming and complicated if you don’t have a general knowledge of the process. 

Equipping yourself with the right tools will allow you to navigate the complexities of the home-buying process. Here are five helpful steps to follow on your way to homeownership.

Step 1: Learn the home-buying ABCs: Build your homeownership knowledge by participating in a first-time homebuyer class at a local non-profit agency in your community to answer any questions you may have. Staying well-informed will help you feel confident and in control of this major financial decision and nip any initial questions in the bud.

Step 2: Get out your calculator: Owning a home requires a large investment of time, energy and money, so make sure you are careful when making the decision to buy. If you’re like 43 percent of survey respondents, staying within budget is the top consideration. It is important to determine how much you can afford – you don’t want to fall in love with a house out of your reach. When applying for a mortgage, the bank will assess your debt to income ratio. By looking at your income and current monthly debts, you can determine your ideal monthly payment. From there, you’ll be able to narrow the focus of your house search to homes in your price range. Be sure to include down payments and other upfront costs in your calculations.

A few free, helpful online tools can help you determine just how much you could potentially afford. For example, visit and check out its mortgage calculator.

Step 3: Shop wisely: Condo? Single-family home? A fixer-upper or new construction? Once you know how much you can afford, determining your housing needs – and selecting a qualified real estate professional – before you start looking, will help make finding your perfect home much less time-consuming. In addition to being able to answer any questions that come up during the process, a real estate professional will work on your behalf to pre-screen houses and guide you through negotiations.

Step 4: Pick your perfect match: According to the survey, acquiring a mortgage and making a down payment is the most preferred method of payment for those who intend to own a home. With the variety of mortgage products that exists today, it’s essential you choose the right one for your needs. How long do you plan on living in this house? Do you plan on making improvements to the home? Answering these types of questions will help you hone in on your financial strategy. Finding the right mortgage is about more than a rate and terms – it’s about finding the right financial partner. Don’t get led down the wrong path by choosing a bank that doesn’t provide flexible options. Look for a bank that offers a hassle-free mortgage guarantee to ensure your first home purchase is as smooth and worry-free as possible.

“As a portfolio lender, we are able to set our own lending guidelines and interest rates,” says Michael Copley, executive vice president for retail lending at TD Bank. “This allows us to provide our customers with the most adjustable and affordable financing options to suit their borrowing needs.”

Step 5: Sign on the dotted line: Once your home has been inspected, your contingencies have been met and your mortgage has been approved, it’s time to close the deal. In most cases, a closing officer and your attorney will be present during closing. As the buyer, you should make sure to bring a binder for homeowner’s insurance (document proving you have adequate homeowner’s insurance), a paid receipt for the first year’s premium and a certified or cashier’s check for your down payment and closing costs. Before the closing begins, review your mortgage, mortgage note and settlement statement documents to ensure there are no errors or red flags. Remember to ask questions during the closing, as the closing officer is there to help.

After you’ve signed all documents and paid your closing costs and down payment, the closing is finished. Congratulations and enjoy your new home.

  To get more information and to download your free TD Bank First-Time Homebuyers’ Kit, visit

Tips for top tech gifts Mom is sure to love

April 14th, 2015 by Brenda Bassett

The deal experts at FatWallet, an online coupons and deals website, offer some ideas on the kind of technology gift that will help keep mothers moving:

Gift idea: Laptops, tablets or smartphones
How it will help her: She’ll be able to use these mobile tech devices to communicate with family and friends through email, instant messaging, text messaging and Web-camera chat services like Skype or Face Time. In addition to keeping pace with family and friends on social media, she can also find plenty of apps that will help her organize and keep track of her busy schedule. Apps are also a great tool to help manage budgets and shopping lists, and keep tabs on important health markers like blood pressure and weight loss goals. Finally, if after all that she actually has time for herself, Mom can use her tablet or laptop to read books or magazines on the fly.

Gift idea: Scanners, VHS to DVD software, digital cameras, photo processing software
How it will help her: Chances are, Mom’s got some material in VHS format that she’d love to keep. The right software can help her translate old family videos, her wedding video or even a favorite movie from videotape to a more durable, flexible DVD format. A scanner or digital camera are great tools for digitizing prized images for safer storage online. Photo processing software can help her edit and retouch images, and create collages or special effects on favorite photos.

Gift idea: Wireless network/wifi and wireless enabled devices like Bluetooth accessories and e-readers
How it will help her: Going wireless means improved mobility. Mom can use her wireless devices to do a host of activities while on the go, whether she’s out for a run or running the kids to soccer practice. Wireless devices will also help her take advantage of entertainment opportunities like streaming video or media to an HDTV, and even access online movies from sources like Netflix – great gadgets to have on hand for entertaining youngsters on long car rides or in busy waiting rooms.

Gift idea: Tech tutorials
How it will help her: While much of today’s technology is intuitive, sometimes learning all the vast capabilities of a new tool can be confusing and time-consuming. You can find plenty of online tutorials to help Mom learn to use tools like screen sharing, video conferencing and all the many apps available for her tablet, laptop or smartphone. Can’t find one you want? Pitch in and teach her yourself. You’ll probably discover something new together, plus you’ll be spending some quality time with Mom.

Gift idea: Gift cards
How it will help her: Still not sure what to give? Maybe Mom has a better idea. Give her a gift card for technology related services like iTunes, the Apps marketplace, Netflix, Hulu or a tech store.  

Finally, after all this creative brainstorming of ideas, you deserve a break, too. When you’re ready to buy, head online to one-stop websites like FatWallet or Ebates, where you can find discounts, coupons and cash back rewards on merchandise, experienced techie staff members and expert community contributors that share tech tips and deals every day.

2015 Palmetto Bay Food & Country Music Festival

April 12th, 2015 by Hal Feldman

On April 4, outdoor festival creators Florida Rock Stars drew a large crowd to the Ludivici Amphitheater behind the public library for the Palmetto Bay Food & Country Music Festival.

As they’ve done in the past with rock shows, Florida Rock Stars proved country music could be just as big a draw. Pinecrest Councilwoman Cheri Bell explained, “Palmetto Bay is a great neighbor and Country is my favorite music genre, so I’m loving it!” Cowboy-hatted Gloria Anderton added, “This is amazing, I can’t believe we’re having a country concert right here.”

16-year old Jade Sanders (out of Homestead) kicked off the day.

Cutler Bay’s Cutler Stew took the crowd for a ride through some country favorites.

As dusk set in, it was time for Fort Lauderdale’s Rough Shot to heat up the stage.

This particular location is ideal for shows up to about 6000 people. The park is surrounded by nature, gets a breeze from Biscayne Bay and the above-stage meeting room turns into a great air-conditioned VIP area where you can eat, drink and watch a live feed of the music being performed below.

As the moon rose, so too did the energy with Cape Coral’s Grayson Rogers Band.

And, while I’m not sure if it was the full moon or something else, I can tell you the night turned special when the headliner took to the stage. County Line Road put on a blistering set and when the kids started rockin’ they were invited on stage and included in the act.

The more the kids rocked out, the more the fans enjoyed.

Both Palmetto Bay Mayor Eugene Flinn and Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine-Cava remarked how perfect the event and venue were for each other.

Florida Rock Stars will return in November for their 4th annual Palmetto Bay Food & Rock Festival. You can check for advance tickets here.

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Hard water: bad for your home and wallet

April 8th, 2015 by Brenda Bassett

Research by the Battelle Institute found that with hard water, showerheads lost 75 percent of their flow rate in less than 18 simulated months and could not maintain the required flow rate because of scaling.

Water heaters are also negatively affected by hard water. When using softened water, researchers found that all the water heaters tested maintained 100 percent efficiency over a simulated 15-year lifetime, but with hard water, the gas and electric heater efficiency dropped by 25 percent – an incredible loss in energy resulting in significantly higher costs. In the case of the new instant tankless water heaters, hard water caused them to completely fail to function because of plugged-up scale, or mineral build-up associated with hard water, after only 1.6 years of simulated use – about a tenth the normal life of the appliance.

Another study conducted for the Water Quality Research Foundation assessed the impact of water hardness on automatic dishwashers. Soft water was up to 12 times more effective at cleaning dishes than increasing the amount of detergent used. Researchers also found that for washing machines the most important factor in removing stains was water softness. Reduction of water hardness was up to 100 times more effective at stain removal than increasing the detergent dose or washing with hotter water.

You can take steps to eliminate the source of the scaling with a salt-based water softener. In order to make hard water into soft water, you have to remove the calcium and magnesium. The only way to do that effectively is with a salt-regenerated water softener. These work by running the incoming hard water through a resin filter that traps the calcium and magnesium in the water, as well as any iron, manganese or radium ions and replacing them with sodium ions. Magnetic and other non-salt based water softeners do not remove these harmful hard minerals.

Do-it-yourself water testing kits are available at most hardware stores, or you can have a water treatment professional do the testing. The Water Quality Association’s website lets you search by company name, state or ZIP code to help find a professional in your area to handle the testing.

Eliminating hard water minerals delivers significant benefits in terms of the efficiency and maintenance cost of appliances and plumbing. From a budgeting perspective, using less detergent and energy can add up to real savings for families and individuals. Plus the harder these machines have to work, the faster they wear out and need repair or replacement, representing another very significant expense for homeowners. For more information on water softening, visit

Alzheimer’s caregivers: Tips to take care of yourself, too

April 1st, 2015 by Brenda Bassett

“It’s important for caregivers to take care of themselves as well, and to help those they care for find treatment options that can make it easier for both patient and caretaker to better manage Alzheimer’s symptoms,” says Dr. Richard S. Isaacson*, associate professor of neurology and director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention & Treatment Program at Weill Cornell Medical College and a respected AD researcher who has several family members with the disease. “Just as there is no one solution for managing Alzheimer’s symptoms, caregivers need to employ a suite of tactics in coping with their responsibilities – from stress-relieving habits and regular medical care for themselves, as well education about nutritional therapy and medication for patients.”

Caregivers should keep in mind that helping themselves stay well is also helping the people for whom they’re caring. If you’re taking care of a loved one with AD, here are some ways you can help both yourself and the person in your care:

* Therapy to mitigate AD symptoms – Coping with common symptoms of AD such as disorientation, forgetfulness and emotional imbalances are among the most stressful aspects of caregiving. Helping patients mitigate those symptoms can improve the quality of life for both the patient and caregiver. Some medications show promise in helping reduce symptoms, and a new medical food, Axona(R) by Accera, Inc. can further help some mild to moderate patients mitigate symptoms, especially when used in tandem with drug therapies.

Axona helps by providing the brain of mild to moderate AD patients with an alternative to glucose – the “food” which fuels brain function. A brain affected by AD doesn’t process glucose into energy as efficiently as a healthy brain, creating a condition known as diminished cerebral glucose metabolism (DCGM)) which most often occurs in the areas of the brain involved in memory and thoughts. The easy-to-mix, once-daily prescription medical food Axona helps provide brain cells with an alternative energy source, which may help ease the effects of DCGM and enhance memory and cognitive function in AD patients. Doctors and caregivers of AD patients who use Axona report patients appear more alert and engaged in daily activities and interactions with others.

* Seek support – Caregivers provide a tremendous amount of support for both patients and those who love them, but they can use support too. If you are a caregiver, join a support group where you can connect with people whose experiences and emotions parallel your own. You can find a support group through the Alzheimer Association’s website, Don’t be afraid to ask for help from family and friends, too. Something as simple as picking up laundry or groceries, or sitting with a patient for an hour while you run errands doesn’t take much time away from someone else’s schedule, but it could give you a much-needed break.

* Keep an organized schedule – Routine can be very comforting for AD patients, and a schedule can help caregivers stay on track and feel less stressed by day-to-day demands. Online calendars or apps for your mobile device can help you keep a schedule and stay organized. Be sure to schedule in some time to give yourself a break, along with doctor’s appointments and medication timings.

* Avoid isolation – Withdrawal from society is common among dementia patients and can take a toll on those caring for them. Caregivers can feel isolated, too. It’s important to connect with others. Seek social interaction that will benefit you and your loved one with AD, whether it’s attending a weekly prayer meeting or a regularly scheduled dinner with family members.

* Keep things in perspective – The Alzheimer’s Association outlines five key things to remember: Don’t take behaviors personally; stay calm and patient; realize pain can be a trigger for behavior; don’t argue; and accept upsetting behaviors as part of the disease. Remember, your loved one can’t control his or her disease, but you can control your reaction to disease-related behaviors.

To learn more about Axona, visit For more information on AD, including tips for caregivers, visit

*Dr. Richard Isaacson is a paid scientific advisor/consultant for Accera, Inc.

11th Annual Deering Seafood Festival

March 30th, 2015 by Hal Feldman

It was another perfect weather day for the Deering Seafood Festival. Over 7500 people jammed the grounds of the Deering Estate in Palmetto Bay to take in the incredible food, drink, sights and sounds of what has become a staple of South Florida spring.

“We love how the community comes together to support us. Every year it is bigger and better and today is no exception,” exclaimed Deering Estate Foundation Executive Director Mary Pettit, “We started this eleven years ago and really allows us to share this wonderful location on Biscayne Bay with the world.”

Throughout the day, in the Stone House Courtyard, Whole Foods presented Celebrity Cooking demonstrations. With Chefs from Ocean Reef Club, DJM Restaurants, Ortinique on the Mile, 3030 Club and Haven South Beach, it was impossible not to pick up some great tips on how to prepare mouth-watering meals. Bridgette Young, the 2015 winner of the Johnson & Wales student seafood competition, even gave away a few of her secrets.

Premiere sponsor Golden Rule Seafood’s Marketing and Operations Director Courtney Reeder explained, “We served up more than 4500 meals today including plenty of old favorites and Fish Tacos and Fried Oysters making their debut this year.”

Owner of Sports Grill, Eric Haas, joking pointed out, “We’re the only landlubber here today, but we’ve done this every year since it began. We are a great seafood alternative.”

Besides dozens of food vendors, there were arts and crafts booths, a giant Kids Zone and free tours of both the Deering buildings and grounds.

Music played a big part in the day’s event, with the Bahamas Junkanoo Revue strolling the grounds with their highly spirited musical performances, involving not only costuming but dance-like body movement.

The relaxed island tunes continued on the main stage with great acts like Fourth Dimension Reggae Band and Caribbean Crew.

Mr. Nice Guy closed the event with a blistering set of great classic rock that really got the crowd going. Mary Pettit remarked how the band was part of the origins of the Seafood Festival and how happy she was to have them continue to be a part of it.

Palmetto Bay Mayor Eugene Flinn remarked, “There’s nothing better than a day like this right here in our own backyard.”

First-time attendee Nina Coletta (from Broward) summed it up best, “It’s been a fabulous time, the weather is perfection, the food is excellent and the art is very interesting. I’m definitely coming back next year!”

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Award-Winning Hannah Richter

March 25th, 2015 by Hal Feldman

Hannah Richter is not your average teen. As an 18-year old senior at Miami Palmetto High School, she recently won a Scholastic Art & Writing Awards National Gold Key for Writing Portfolio, an award only eight people in the country received this year. Hannah is also the only National Gold Key Writing Portfolio winner from Florida since 2001. She’ll accept her award June 11 at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Hannah has already been accepted to several prestigious colleges, but is still waiting to hear back from her favorite, Duke. Any school would be honored to have a student like this in their ranks. I can say this after spending just a few minutes talking to Hannah. She is clearly a focused and driven spirit.

“Writing for me is about finding my personal truth and understanding life through my mind. Not only do I learn about life by reading other people, but also reviewing what I’ve written,” says Hannah. “I’ve always lived half in my imagination and half in the real world, so poetry for me is very therapeutic way for me to bring my two halves together.”

Hannah’s path to this writing award started with her Creative Writing teacher Mr. Jason Meyers. “Besides helping my writing in inexplicable ways, he encouraged all his students to submit their work to Scholastic,” explained Hannah. “And I did a lot better than I expected.”

Here is her favorite winning poem, entitled Induced Winter:

Should you and I
One day walk together
I might comment
On the sap
Leaking from
The corners of
Your parted lips

And at this
You might pause
Confused because
As a child
You had been told that
Was a thing
Better left outside with
The dog

At age thirteen
They gave you
Woolen sweaters
To conceal the
Ochre bark
Which had begun
To creep over the hollows
Of your sanitized

Even now
You tug on the hems
Of your sleeves
Your freckled wrists
Whose azure veins
Are the silhouettes
Of aspens at dusk

Perhaps they envied
Your adoration
For wood ants
And the way you
Incessantly talked of them
As relatives
While at the dinner table
There was only

Over the years
Withered and
Collapsed in on itself
And when you mentioned
That the room was
Too small for your
Oaken arms
They assured you
That the freedom
You sought
Looked like an automobile

But every time
You bowed your wooden spine
In prayer
To a steering wheel
You were aware
That your truths
Had become scattered
Leaves on your

You never considered
That Spring too
Had an agenda
Even your woolen sweaters
Could not stop the rain
From visiting the drought
In your ribcage
As your bones
Began to
Expel violets from
Their centers

Try as they might
To uproot the wildflowers
Growing from
Your shoulder blades
You have always
That the forces which
Nurture our marrow
Are the same
As those which
Drive hurricanes

And I see this in you
Because I too acknowledge
That I am
A manifestation of
This earth
And I believe
Diffidence is a contagion
To which you must not

There is woodland in
Your stomach
Your speech impeded
By sap
And the leaves of cherry trees
Unfurling from your
Half convinced mouth
Are born of seeds
In childhood

Hannah shows grace and maturity beyond her years. “I don’t fit into any particular clique or group at school. I tend to be friends with everyone and connect with the parts of people that don’t have a label. I appreciate the variety and differences in life.” Her advice to other students is “I feel like I am out of the box and my own little species, but I celebrate not being typical and that’s a good thing. I find the happiness of not fitting in.” Others should find their happiness.

As for how writing plays into Hannah’s future, “I definitely plan to keep writing for myself. Where writing leads me professionally is up to the universe.”

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Eight ways to help kids hone their homework habits

March 24th, 2015 by Brenda Bassett

“Whether your kids are just learning to read, write and spell, or they are studying for the SATs, we parents have an opportunity to help instill work and study habits that will stick with our children for life,” says education and parenting expert Dr. Michele Borba, who is the bestselling author of 22 parenting books and a frequent TODAY show contributor.

Borba offers parents some easy tips to help children of all ages develop skills that will help them reach their academic goals:

* Give them space – Create a dedicated space for homework and study. This underscores the importance of homework to kids. If you don’t have room for a homework desk, consider keeping all homework and study tools in a bin or box that children can take out and use every day. Keep all essentials in one place to help avoid time wasted looking for the dictionary, ruler, calculator or other tool.

* Create a routine – Choose a time that works best for your child to do homework, then stick to that time every day. A set and predictable schedule helps minimize homework battles. “Work before play” can motivate kids to get their homework done, but if your child plays sports or has other after-school commitments, doing homework after dinner may be the best option.

* Give them smart tools and study aids – Just as your mechanic can’t fix your car without the right tools, it’s hard for kids to do homework without the proper tools. Choose tools like the new Post-it Study collection (, which is designed to help students stay organized and use time efficiently. For example, Post-it Study Message Flags are restickable flags that feature helpful reminders like “Study,” “To Do” and “On Test” that help kids highlight material that needs additional attention. Note Tabs, Page Markers, Flags and other products in this collection by Post-it Brand stick securely to papers, notebooks, textbooks and more – yet remove cleanly – to help kids organize information during homework and study time.

* Avoid distractions – Establish a technology-free zone for homework and studying. Turn off TVs, ban text messaging and ensure kids are using their PC for research, rather than Facebook. This measure may seem obvious to you, but remember – kids are so tied to tech these days that they may be surprised to find out they can more efficiently use their time without the distractions of technology.

* Map out assignments – Help children plot homework on a schedule so they have simple reminders of daily, weekly or long-term assignments. Include other engagements like sports or music lessons to help kids have a clearer picture of their own schedules. This can help build basic time management skills, like working on a long-term project every day over time, or avoiding a late-night cramming session for a big test.

* Lessons in planning and prioritizing – Teach kids to make lists of what they need to do each night in order of priority. As your child accomplishes each item, have him cross it off the list. For children who had difficulty staying on task, breaking large projects into smaller, more manageable tasks can help. Encourage kids to do the hardest homework first to help relieve the pressure of a long to-do list.

* Emphasize the effort – Stressing perseverance and effort in a task helps children work longer and harder, because they recognize their success is based on how hard they work. Instead of asking “What score did you get?” ask “How hard are you working?”

* Effective study habits – Spreading out study sessions and practice testing were the two most-effective learning tactics, according to a recent report by the Association for Psychological Science. Both techniques involve strong time management skills. Help children think of study sessions or pieces of a larger project as daily to-dos, and just as important as the homework assignment that may be due tomorrow.

Six must-have travel apps

March 24th, 2015 by Brenda Bassett

(BPT) – You have a choice of great travel apps that can help make your getaways a breeze, from booking a flight or renting a car while on the road to finding a bathroom during a busy day of sightseeing. For readers in the throes of booking their adventures, we’ve rounded up six of the most useful go-to apps for savvy travelers. Bonus: They all just so happen to be free.

* WhatsApp (iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone) – Now there’s almost no excuse not to stay in touch with mom during your travels. WhatsApp uses your smartphone’s data plan or a Wi-Fi connection to let you message with family and friends around the world for free. On your next vacation, use the app to organize group chats, or send audio, photo or video messages. It’s now one of the most downloaded apps in the world. Moms, you’re welcome.

* Orbitz Flights, Hotels, Cars (iOS, Android, Kindle Fire) – There’s no shortage of booking apps out there, but leading travel site’s revamped version is so speedy and user friendly that it’s just one of 48 apps to earn a spot in the Apple App Store’s coveted Hall of Fame. This app lets you accomplish everything you would expect – book flights, hotels, cars and packages – but a big bonus is that it also treats users to mobile-exclusive deals on hotels. Other selling points include access to your account preferences, and up-to-date flight and gate info. Just think of this hall of famer as the Willie Mays of travel apps.

* TripWhat (iOS) – Once you’ve got your flight and hotel details sorted, you can focus on the fun side of travel – figuring out which sights to see, where to dine and what sort of entertainment’s happening nearby. TripWhat helps you sort through and map out the options with detailed listings uploaded from other sites such as WikiVoyage, SeatGeek, Google Maps, Yelp and, among others. You’ll never have to ask, “So, what do we do now?”

* SitOrSquat (iOS, Android) – In certain cities – we’re looking at you New York – finding a clean public bathroom in the middle of a long day of sightseeing can put you in a real pinch. The SitOrSquat app, sponsored by Charmin, not only helps you find a local public potty, but also includes user reviews that inform you of their condition, as indicated by “Sit” or “Squat” icons. This app’s an especially great pick for families with small kids whose bathroom emergencies tend to spring up at the most inopportune times.

* Field trip (iOS, Android) – What’s the fastest way to really get to know a city while traveling? Have a well-informed local show you. Consider Google’s FieldTrip your friend in town, guiding you to the best off-the-beaten-path sights, shops, restaurants and hidden histories. Just stroll around the city you’re exploring and watch as the hyper-local, customizable geo-publishing tool populates your screen – no clicking required – with interesting tidbits such as a recommended dish at a nearby restaurant or a free concert happening nearby.

* RoadAhead Highway Exit Finder (iOS)– Don’t play rest-stop roulette when it comes to stopping for food, gas or bathrooms while on the road. On your next trip, plan your stops smarter with RoadAhead, an app that helps you find the best highway exit for all your travel needs – gas prices, dining options, lodging, distance from exit and other useful info included. You’ll never again have to white-knuckle your way along an unknown number of miles to the next station.