TravelVegas App: Save Money in Sin City

This free iPhone app lets you in on hot Las Vegas deals

TravelVegas App: Save Money in Sin City

You don't usually hear "saving money" and "Las Vegas" in the same sentence, but a new app can cut down costs for hotels, tours, live events and airfare to and from the Sin City.

Called TravelVegas, the free app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch is based on the website of the same name.

We took it for a spin and found it lived up to its claim to provide discounts in and around the city.

For example, a night at the MGM Grand costs $70.20 when booked directly (base rate, before taxes and other fees), while the TravelVegas app had it for $56.75 a night. The Flamingo hotel was also cheaper via the app, though only by $3 ($42.84 when booked directly vs. $39.20 at TravelVegas).

The app serves up more aggressive deals when it comes to shows and tours — such as 35% off Blue Man Group and 30% off a Hoover Dam tour. Some deals are exclusive to TravelVegas (and its website), while others are not, such as a free glass of wine at the Circus Circus Steakhouse (via Foursquare) or a discounted meal at the Hard Rock or $7.77 for steak and shrimp at Mr. Lucky's.

The app is divided into three sections: Home, Travel Guides, and Favorites:

The Home page has nine large icons to show you discounts in a number of areas, including airfare, hotels, shows, dining, tours, transportation, and so on. Each section has the information presented alphabetically or by location (if you're in Vegas, tap the Map tab). A separate Deals tab highlights the latest offers, also listed alphabetically or by location. Too bad there's no option to list them by how good the deals are by showing the percentage off the base price.

As the name suggests, the Travel Guides section offers about a dozen guides pulled from the TravelVegas website. This includes clearly written information about "Booking a Vegas Vacation," "Cirque du Soleil Show," "Best Hotels in Vegas," "Taxi Tips" and "Family Fun Attractions," to name a few. There are some great suggestions for those on a limited budget, too, including a "Free Things to See" article.

The Favorites tab (yes, this site is from the U.S.) is home to everything you tapped as a "favorite" while perusing the app. For example, if you're planning a trip to Vegas with some friends, you might've tagged a couple of airline options, hotels and shows you're interested in, but haven't yet made a decision. But be aware many of these deals are time sensitive. You can also use the search window on the app to find something by keyword.

Other features of the app include user reviews, an offline mode, a four-day weather forecast, and many high-resolution photos.

TravelVegas isn't optimized for iPad — you'll need to tap the 2x button to expand the app to full screen — so perhaps this is something that can be added in an update.

Overall, this free app is one to keep on your device when planning a trip to Las Vegas as it could save you money — whether you want to pocket the cash or save it for the tables.


It's 'Potty Time' with New App for Toddlers

Sesame Street app has Elmo teach your toddlers about using the toilet

It's 'Potty Time' with New App for Toddlers

Your iPad seems to be capable of almost everything: video calling, GPS directions, instant messaging, multiplayer games and music creation.

Now, your tablet might even help your toddler go the potty.

Based on the best-selling children's book of the same name, Potty Time with Elmo includes the original story—but can be read or heard in various ways—along with many songs, puzzles, a sticker reward chat and other extras.

For under $3, this adorable app is well worth the price of admission for parents of young kids.

In case you never read the paper version of Publication International's Potty Time with Elmo, the story follows the beloved Sesame Street character and his doll, Baby David, who has to use the potty. Elmo helps him listen to his body when he has to go, puts him on the toilet and helps him be comfortable on the seat, followed by using toilet paper and flushing. Finally, Elmo explains to Baby David the importance of washing hands with soap. Now that Baby David is a big boy and can go potty, he gets to wear underwear instead of diapers.

The app version of the story—available for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch—can be read like a book, where the child or parent turns the pages. Alternatively, you can have the book read to you and you can follow along with the words and pictures. Or you can have it play from start to finish without any "page" turns necessary (for younger toddlers). Every few pages has a song you can listen to, as well, such as "I Am Waiting on the Potty" (to the tune of "I am Working on the Railroad") and "Boom Boom, Ain't it Great to be a Kid?" The app contains five songs, in all. Parents or children can jump to a specific song, if desired, or skip right to a particular part of the story.

While there aren't any interactive elements on the page like other digital kid's books offer—tapping on the toilet to hear a flush sound might’ve been a good idea—the camera zooms in on the images to give the illusion of animation, and the effect works well.

Along with the Potty Time with Elmo story, the app also includes a rewards chart with virtual stickers. This helps parents and kids monitor progress as the child can tap to place a checkmark when they've successfully performed each of the four main tasks: Go, Wipe, Flush and Wash. Coloured stars are used at the end of the row after all four "potty" tasks have been completed. As a reward, new icons are unlocked and can be used after kids have completed the chart. Therefore, instead of stars, you can use icons such as Elmo on a tire swing, a rubber ducky or Baby David flushing the toilet, to name a few.

The app also contains five jigsaw puzzles, each with just four pieces – therefore ideal for young kids.

Finally, you can tap the Information button to read parent tips, provided by education experts, on helping your child use the potty.

Potty Time with Elmo is an excellent book-to-app port as it retains the original story but adds multimedia, games and a rewards chart for parents and kids to monitor progress. If you're ready to potty, consider downloading this little gem at the App Store.