Summer is here and thoughts are turning to vacations, traveling and leisure activities. It’s a time for heading to the beach or across the globe to experience new places. Some folks may be staying close to home this year and looking for new things to do nearby. Or perhaps a virtual vacation is in the cards, using the power of the web to experience exotic places from a distance. The iPad (s aapl) is an apt companion for all of these summer activities, if the right apps come along for the journey.
Kayak. Traveling means booking flights, and in this economy finding the best deal is a must. Kayak is a good way to search for flights that meet specific criteria and book them. The app also handles hotels, so you can plan your travel and accommodations in one place. Free.
Zagat to Go. One of the great joys of vacations is sampling local delicacies and trying new food. It can be a challenge to find good places to eat in an unfamiliar place and that’s where Zagat comes to the rescue. You can search for restaurants, get pricing information, book reservations and find directions using the iPad’s GPS. $9.99.
Free Translator. If you are lucky enough to be traveling to exotic locales this summer, you may be confronted with a language you don’t speak. This app is a simple way to translate phrases in a number of languages to help you get around in foreign places. It is an iPhone app but works well on the iPad. Free.
Urbanspoon. This app is great for finding specific types of restaurants nearby, using a great system of criteria to narrow down the search. You can find what you crave with just a few taps on the iPad screen, complete with a map to see where you need to go. It covers many cities in the U.S. for those staying close to home, and also major cities in the UK and Australia. Free.
Photo Transfer App. The iPad doesn’t have a camera onboard but is still a good gadget to gaze at those vacation photos. This app makes it a snap to get the photos from an iPhone or a PC to the iPad over a Wi-Fi connection. $2.99.
MaxJournal. If you are traveling to great places this summer you may want to record all the lovely details of the trip in a journal. This app makes it easy to do that, and even incorporate photos recording the memories into the journal entries. You can share your travel entries with friends. $2.99.
Lonely Planet. Those staying close to home this summer can still escape to faraway places with this app. It gives a picture of 1,000 exotic locales with immersive photos and videos to make you feel like you are there. When the app was first released for $20 it created a backlash due to the high price so it was quickly dropped. $3.99.
Couch Traveler HD. If you’re taking a “staycation” this year, you can still visit cool places with this app. The name says it all — the app takes you anywhere you want to go virtually, complete with zoomable satellite coverage. You can see your destination as if you were there, and instantly tap into a wealth of information about the place through Wikipedia. $1.99.
National Geographic World Atlas HD. If you’re staying at home and not sure where you’d like to travel virtually, this atlas is just the ticket. It has the entire National Geographic World Atlas, so there is nowhere you can’t go with outstanding coverage in this app. $1.99.
Weber’s On the Grill. Last but not least, what would summer be without firing up the backyard grill and searing some meat and vegetables. This app has over 250 recipes for good grilling, and can produce shopping lists for recipes so you never forget that one thing you need just as the grill gets hot. You can even use the iPhone/iPad to time the grilling as per the recipe so you’ll never char food again. $4.99.
Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d): To Win In the Mobile Market, Focus On Consumers