My favorite Free Travel Apps and Why You Need Them!
Tripit is my newest favorite app. I love this one so much I wrote an article on why it’s so great. Tripit will instantly create a master itinerary for each of your trips that you can access anytime, anywhere. I know some will say they use Google Trips, but I have not used this yet – well not extensively. What I really about like about Tripit is you can forward any reservation from any source to the tool, and it plots it accordingly. If you’ve used both Google Trips and Tripit, I would love to hear which you think is best and why.
Like Kayak, Skyscanner will show you prices globally using “everywhere” in the “to” box. It lets you search vague dates and will even suggest the cheapest month to fly. I’ve found Skyscanner to be beyond reliable regarding price. They have a robust multi-city tool that enables you to search the best deal without sticking to one carrier. Additionally, Skyscanner allows you to create Price Alerts for a specific route. Typically, I use a combination of Kayak, Skyscanner and Google Flights to nail down the best prices, or the best routes. I often purchase through Skyscanner.
Flights are often late, we miss connections, and flights get canceled. AirHelp, for a percent, will help you to help file compensation claims for delayed or canceled flights.
Note: The ability to file a claim depends on where the flights originate from. If from the USA, each airline has their policies about what it will do; there are no federal requirements.
Slightly obvious, but some travelers don’t realize that Uber is available in more than 600 countries globally. If you have access to Wi-Fi, Uber is often cheaper than cabs. A handy app to have and I use it everywhere.
A relatively new favorite of mine. We used Parking Panda in Washington DC this June. You all know how difficult it is to secure a parking spot in a huge city. Well, imagine getting one next to the White House for less than $30 for 6 hours – covered secure parking might I add. It took all the headache of where we will park and at what rate away. Most of the parking offered has exclusive discounts. I was beyond impressed with our experience. Plus, it’s paperless – book, pay, show barcode.
Some people think it’s dead now that the “name your price” feature is not the hot way to book. I love Priceline; it’s consistently the best global aggregator of rental cars. Not only is this my first stop when looking for a rental car, 95% of the time it’s who I use to book the rental car. I’ve used Priceline for years. Never had any issues with a reservation and always got the best deal.
I’m a longtime fan of Travelzoo. I not only book through them, but I subscribe to their Top 20 List. Travelzoo’s Top 20 is my favorite email each week. It’s a good pulse on prices across the globe, and you can score killer deals because they often bundle things. They do all the work tracking down the best deals, and often their deals waive all fees. For example, you can typically avoid that pesky “resort fee” if you book a deal through Travelzoo.
I’ve been using Kayak for years. I use it to compare prices and study price trends. You can set notifications on specific routes or use the Explore World feature to view flight prices from your home location. Very handy if you are looking for ideas or want to know what’s attainable. I don’t always book from a Kayak referral, but I always use it to study prices. One other unique thing is Kayak will give you advice on prices, see the Our Advice in the top left corner. They predict if prices will remain the same, go up or go down then tell you if they think you should buy now or wait. It’s worth it for this feature alone.
Consider this the granddaddy of second opinions. Use it to compare airfare of when you need round-trip, one-way, or multi-city flights. Like Kayak, Google Flights offers an Explore Map to view flight prices from your home location. The Travel Trends tool allows you to choose the dates when you will be traveling to see historical flight price trends and the latest hotel deals. Google Flights also picks up your location and makes recommendations based on where you are.
Some people will scoff at this app and proclaim self-booking is the only way to organize an excursion. I get it, I do. But here are a few things to consider before you discount Viator:
- You get aggregated results of every provider in the area, almost all are on Viator.
- You can validate the prices with each provider and see if it’s cheaper to book directly. It’s not necessarily cheaper, Viator is doing bulk business on your behalf.
- Viator bundles some excursions into combo’s you might not otherwise have access to.
- If nothing else, Viator shows you what the attractions are in every location sorted by category. Look up where you are going on Viator and get a feel for the top things to see and do.
TripAdvisor is well-known and beloved by many. It’s a crowd-sourced guide to attractions, hotels, and food worldwide with real people reviews. It offers real user photos vs. the professional one’s companies use. I love TripAdvisor for an alternative view of what I am seeing and reading. Further, I like that it holds business accountable yet allows them to respond to criticism. All though, I will point out that I often find reviews to be a tad harsh. The hotel only gave me four towels = one dot. Or, I asked for (not paid for) a suite = one dot. Outside of the Negative Nelly crowd, I like this app to hear all sides the experience.
We are all addicted to Wi-Fi nothing new here. However, sometimes it can be a royal pain in the ass to find it. I wish I had this app on us in New Zealand as it took us an hour to find Wi-Fi to get in touch with a host that stood us up. Downloadable for offline use, this app offers a wealth of free Wi-Fi networks across the globe, allowing you to get connected easily.
Assuming you have Wi-Fi, this is the greatest phone app out there. Send messages, photos, voice clips, and even full voice and video calls to friends and family members who use the app. I disconnected my house phone which was through Vonage given the service of WhatsApp – that’s how great it is. I can now talk to all my peeps in the UK directly over WhatsApp. We use this religiously when traveling to check in with the family.
I’ve written an article about Airbnb. There seems to be a variety of pros and cons and various prospectives. I think it’s a fabulous tool if you use it for renting the entire place. You can’t beat scoring an entire house or apartment to yourself when on vacation.
Everyone needs a currency converter, and this one is the most popular. The app supports just about every national currency used worldwide. It even stores the rates of currencies you’ve looked up so that they’re always available offline.
This app brings predictive algorithms to the world of air travel. Like Kayak, it uses historical trends to predict when prices to a destination are likely to be lowest when they’re likely to change, and the best time to buy a ticket for a date and destination. I’ve only just started using this one, so I can’t say if it will make it into a part of my standard research practice or not yet. But I am enjoying using it to see if it lives up to the claims.
Mobile Passport would be on my list, but it only supports the USA and Canadian passports, and I travel on a British passport!
I would love to hear from you. What are your favorite apps and why?
Comment and let us know your tip and tricks you use when booking travel or when on the road.
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