Summertime and the Traveling Is Easy
Your vacation dates loom large on the calendar. You're itching to get away. Speed the process up and let your smartphone be your travel agent.
Today's apps let you book plane tickets, reserve a place to stay, find your way around town, figure out where the best coffee is, and more.
Let’s take a look at ten apps that will guarantee you priceless vacation memories by taking a load off your shoulders.
With most travel booking services like Expedia and Kayak, the objective is finding the lowest price. But sometimes a good deal comes at the cost of painful layovers and connecting flights.
HipMunk, a free booking app, presents flights on a matrix and allows users to sort results by price, departure/arrival, and “Agony”--looking not just at quantity, but quality of flights.
In addition, HipMunk lives up to its name by showing neat tips and quotes while you wait for your results. I got this gem from Mark Twain: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”
Triposo offers essentially the same features as Lonely Planet offline travel guide apps, but for free instead of costing $5.99.
With a long list of destinations, Triposo guides provide detailed maps, history, culture, and phrasebooks in addition to the usual assortment of things to do and places to stay. The app makers brag that their app will actively suggest places for you to go to.
Users can also download additional city and country guides directly from within the app.
Trip Color is a free photo-based travel blog and social network that allows travelers to easily share pictures and maps of destinations.
Trip Color can even create and mail post cards based on your pictures. Those stuck back at home can draw inspiration and wander the world vicariously through friends’ and even strangers’ trips.
Unfortunately for Android users, Trip Color is available only for Apple hardware.
A smooth trip requires organization. TripIt can automatically scan your email inbox for confirmations, reservations, and frequent flyer points, and then bring all your trip details into one itinerary. It will even sync up with your calendar, and notify friends and family.
If you’re not too keen on letting TripIt rummage through your mail account, you can just forward all relevant trip messages to a TripIt email address for the same results. TripIt is free for Android and iOS.
Whether for business or leisure, sometimes trips are booked at the last minute.
Hotel Tonight is a free last-minute hotel booking app to land you a great deal on a…hotel tonight.
You can book a room as late as 2 a.m. on the night of your stay. Check out new deals by city each day starting at noon local time.
If you’re looking to save some money on accommodations, hostels can be a great alternative to hotels--provided you don’t mind sleeping in a dorm.
The free Hostelworld.com app gives you access to over 25,000 hostels around the world. You can view hostels, read reviews, get directions, and make reservations with the app.
Want a place to stay just about anywhere around the world, without paying a cent?
CouchSurfing hooks you up with people who are willing to provide their couch/bed/room free of charge.
But CouchSurfing is not just for cheapskates. It’s a social network to meet people and make friends in unfamiliar cities and countries, which is great if you happen to be backpacking by yourself.
The app is free, but CouchSurfing does require a $25 bank transaction to make sure you’re a real person, with a bank account.
Whether it’s hang-gliding in Bogota, or biking through Paris, Viator lets you view and book over 10,000 tours and activities in over 800 destinations around the world.
The best part is, it guarantees the lowest price, so you don’t have to worry about overpaying by booking before you arrive.
For some reason, Viator still doesn’t have a native Android app, but its mobile site offers the same service with a slightly different user interface. The app is free.
It’s easy to lose track of your travel budget when spending in a different currency.
Simply Declare lets you enter your home currency, as well as budget for multiple travelers.
When spending in a new country, just punch in the amounts, and the app converts and keeps track of your budget.
As the name indicates, Simply Declare also makes it easier to declare purchases to customs when returning home. Simply Declare is available for iOS hardware for $1.99.
For $0.99, SayHi Translate lets you say something in your native tongue, and the app translates and speaks it in one of 33 other languages.
The app is designed and laid out with conversation in mind, so if you use 3G or Wi-Fi, then you can talk to just about anybody.
SayHi Translate is also great if you’re learning a new language. However, the app's developers apparently have yet to translate it for Android.