Around this time of the year, families are preparing to hit the road, over the mountains and through the woods. Holidays mean travel. You may be only be a few hours away from the in-laws, or you may be thousands of miles from home.
If you are planning a trip this Thanksgiving, or anytime in the future, you can use your iPhone to take care of pretty much all of the arrangements. Whether you want a great deal on a hotel, recommendations on good eats, or are planning an all-inclusive trip to the Bahamas without the kids, we’ve got a list of the best travel apps that will help make that come true…
I use this app fairly regularly to find discounts on hotels in San Francisco. The great thing about it is that you can end up staying at five-star hotels for half the price. The bad thing about it is that you have to be willing to wait until the last minute to book a room. The deals available don’t start until noon on the day they are offered. Some deals will last a few days, but others are only for the night. So, if you are willing to take the risk, you may end up in the Marriot Grand with plenty of pocket change left over for a fancy dinner. This app is available for free.
This is one of the most popular travel apps in the App Store. Not only can you compare the prices of hotels, plane tickets, and car rentals, but you can book your hotel right from within the app. When you’ve made all of your arrangements and are ready to go, check the flight status before you head for the airport to make sure your plane is on time. Around this time of the year, flights are regularly grounded due to bad weather. You can also plan and edit your trip itinerary to help keep your activities organized. If you need to call the airport to make changes to your flight, there is a list of contact numbers too. This app is available for free.
TripAdvisor and Kayak compete for top spot in the App Store on a regular basis. They both offer comparison-shopping, hotel booking options, and plenty of other useful utilities for planning the perfect trip. This app also features photos, videos, and reviews from other travelers so you can see, first-hand, what your destination looks like. Using the location feature, you can discover restaurants, entertainment, and attractions nearby without having to do the legwork. If your favorite travel spot isn’t listed, add it on TripAdvisor so others will know what you think of it. This app is available for free.
When it comes to finding the perfect spot off of the beaten path, this user-uploaded site is where you should go first to find what you are looking for. You can browse through nearly half a million listings for one-of-a-kind accommodations. Rent a room in Downtown L.A. for a week, stay at a quaint bed and breakfast in Napa Valley, or group up with other travelers in a cabin in the woods. If you have a room to rent, why not fill it with friendly strangers? Use your entertaining skills to help a newlywed couple have their first adventure together by offering your hospitality. This app is available for free.
I recently flew into the San Francisco Airport and had to transfer to an international flight. I had to take a shuttle from my plane to the wing of the airport where my gate was. I got lost after about 10 minutes. Some airports are just so big that you literally need a map to get around in them. Not only does Flight Tracker give you access to departures and arrivals for flights to destinations worldwide from all the major airlines, but it also includes airport maps, which is a real time saver when you are trying to catch a flight that leaves in 20 minutes. Plus, you can see weather conditions at your destination spot, and even see what seats are still available on your flight if you want to try to get a window seat instead. This app is available for free.
When I am visiting friends and family out of town, I’m always asking where a good place to eat is. When I don’t know anyone in town, I’m at a loss for where to get the best grub. Foodspotting is a user-uploaded restaurant guide that does more than comment on the overall business. If you want to know where the best bison burger in town is, you will find it in here. If you want to know what the best item on the menu of a specific restaurant is, you can find that too. Foodspotters love taking pictures of food, so you will be able to get multiple angles of each dish, as it really looks, not what it looks like on that photocopied menu. This app is available for free.
If you are the kind of person who loves to take vacations and are always looking for great package deals at discounted prices, Travelzoo is a must-have. I’ve booked multiple trips from this company. Every day, you’ll get a list of the top deals, curated by a team of “Deal Experts” who recommend the best of the best. You can see local deals on hotels and entertainment, or discover all-inclusive trips to exotic locations. Find great discounts on castle tours in Ireland, golf resorts in the U.K. and beer tasting adventures in Germany. There are tons great vacation packages you didn’t even know you wanted to take. This app is available for free.
Anyone who has read more than a few of my productivity app reviews will have noted that I love to make lists. I am a big fan of organizing things. TripIt is the organizer for the traveler. All you have to do is send along your confirmation emails for flight, hotel, restaurant, and car reservations and the service will automatically create a detailed daily itinerary for you. You can also get directions and weather conditions, and sync your plans with your Apple, Outlook, or Google Calendar. If you travel a lot, upgrade to TripIt Pro for even more features, including real-time flight tracking, seat tracking, and more. This app is available for free.
What are some of your favorite travels apps and why? Please share with us.