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PORTLAND, OR, United States – Summer is almost upon us here in the northern hemisphere. In the United States, that means people young and old will be packing up and going on vacation. Whether your trip is a roadtrip to another state or a flight somewhere else in the country, I think the most effective tool in your arsenal is Ovi Maps.

In the United States, our summer break is anchored by two holidays. Memorial Day, last weekend, starts summer vacations, while Labor Day in September, brings the end of traditional roadtrip season. With several different aspects of Ovi Maps, the utility will be a plus in your vacation planning toolkit.

To get a sense of your destination and the surrounding sights you wish to see, fire up Ovi Maps and check out the area. By signing into your Nokia Account in the upper right, you can save certain locations as favorites. For a recent trip I had to the Oregon coast, I saved the hotel as a favorite. Then, I spotted a great pizza place nearby along with an ice cream joint that I knew I would want to pop in to while we were there. Then, by syncing with my phone with the favorite spots, I could easily recall them while on the go in the midst of my vacation.

External content providers have been embedded into the mobile version of Ovi Maps, so there’s a wealth of amazing information inside the Maps app. For example, to pick the hotel at the coast, I used TripAdvisor, the marquee user review site for hotels across the US. In TripAdvisor, you can read first hand reviews, view photos posted by users, and even check out nightly rates. An added important factor is the “what’s nearby” feature, where you can see nearby restaurants and things to do to help scope out your trip before you go.

If you’re looking for help and best rates in booking a hotel, check out Expedia. This fantastic location-aware utility will make it possible to skip phoning countless hotels to find the best rate at a hotel you are sure to love. Expedia will allow you to book a great price on a fab room, all from your mobile phone.

If you’re looking for trusted solid advice, go to Lonely Planet. This best selling and most trusted travel resource can help you see the best places to visit and most amazing restaurants, no matter where in the world you’re going. Lonely Planet is available right from your Ovi Maps menu, if it’s not visible, just enable it by going to the Extras menu and selecting the option.

One feature that is very unique to Ovi Maps is the ability to use your mobile device as a mapping utility when you’re offline. If you’re going to a foreign country and you wish to utilize your GPS-enabled Nokia device as a routing and usable resource, you can do so, even if you won’t have an active data connection while you’re there. To do this, go to Ovi Maps and hit “update”, then download the maps you need via Wi-Fi before you go. This will ensure you can use your phone as a driving and walking guide because your phone will download the maps and store them on the device. This amazing feature will work for Ovi Maps version 3.06 and above.

What apps and utilities do you use while you’re on holiday? I look forward to comparing notes in the comments below!