Whether it’s a last-minute vacation before school starts, a trip for students headed to college, or a winter getaway, technology has made it easier to save time and money on your next trip.
There are thousands of travel, entertainment, and transportation apps, so we’ve narrowed them down to some favorites recommended by our readers.
And even better, many of these 50+ resources and apps can be used all year long to help you cut costs, save time, and reduce the stress of planning.
- Airfare — Shop and compare the best prices on round-trip or one-way flights at FareCompare, AirfareWatchdog, CheapOair or Globester. Save on last-minute flights through Last Minute Travel or BookingBuddy, or find other great rates using LowFares, Kayak, CheapTickets, and MSN Travel. Some airlines no longer offer refunds if the price drops, but you can use Yapta to track the cost of your specific flight — or hotel — to ensure you’re getting the lowest
- Airport monitor — TripAdvisor’s GateGuru will highlight updates to your itinerary such as security wait times, flight delays, gate changes, or layover time adjustments. Tapping the airport code will bring you to airport-specific information on amenities, maps, weather forecasts, airport tips, and much more. They also provide discounts on car rentals through Avis, but you may want to compare rental car costs using Priceline’s Name Your Own Price tool. FlightAware is another airport and flight tracking source.
- Hotels — Find the lowest prices on your next stay — whether it’s 1,000 miles away or a more local staycation — at Priceline’s Express Deals, HotelTonight (including express check-in), Groupon Getaways, Expedia Unpublished Rates, Travelocity Hotels, RetailMeNot’s Hotel Discounts, or Hotels.com’s Deals.
- Alternative lodging — Use RedWeek, Rentalo, RentVillas, VRBO, HomeAway, Airbnb, or FlipKey to find timeshares, condos, vacation homes, and even last-minute deals as an alternative to staying in a hotel.
- Save on food & entertainment — Look for Groupon, Amazon Local, com or LivingSocial discounts in your travel locations. Yelp can help you find the closest restaurants and bars, display customer reviews, and provide directions. It’s a great tool to find out-of-the-way places where the locals eat. Use it to quickly identify places where the food or drinks are overpriced, or the servers are unfriendly. And don’t forget Happy Hour Finder for the best food and drink happy hour specials.
- Reservations — OpenTable can help you locate restaurants and trendy hot spots, check availability, and then make and confirm
- Cruise trips — Find terrific bargains and a wealth of information at sites like River Cruises, Last Minute Cruises, iCruise app, Cruise Critic, Cruise Bargains, CruisesOnly, CheapTickets, and Cruise Experts. Use the Ship Mate app for ship info, itinerary details, money-saving tips, and other helpful information during your voyage.
- Travel organizer — TripIt can help you organize your trip, from car rental, to lodging, to restaurant
- Free Wi-Fi Finder (Android, iOS) — This handy app identifies Wi-Fi networks near yo It will also search with filters, such as the providers, location types (hotel, library, café, etc.), and whether the networks are free, pay-per-use, etc. Whether you are traveling or cruising around town, this app can help reduce your data plan usage.
- Translator — Claiming to translate over 100 billion words a day, the new update for Google Translate helps world travelers translate simple words and phrases through their smartphones. Simply say a phrase in English, and Google Translate will repeat your words in the language of your choice. Or, point your camera phone at a sign, menu, or other text, and the app will visually change the text to your language! Check out the Android promo video.
- Routing & parking — Whether you’re on vacation or heading to work, get the best route using Waze. Try Maps.me to download maps to use offline (with no GPS or Internet) and save on data or roaming charges. iExit tells you what’s coming up on the interstate, whether you’re lookingfor food, gas, or hotels. Use apps like Parkopedia, ParkWhiz, or SpotHero to checks prices, current availability, payment methods, and opening times of local parking spaces, garages, and even private parking. You can even book a parking spot right through the app! And, of course, don’t forget to use GasBuddy year-round to locate the lowest gas prices.
- Alternatives to a cab — Rather than a taxi, consider Uber, Sidecar, or Lyft, but be sure to compare rates
- Traveling with Fido — Whether you’re flying, staying at a hotel, or need a restaurant that is pet-friendly, BringFido offers a comprehensive directory for pet parents.
- Tracking family & friends — what3words uses a global grid of 57 trillion 3mx3m squares, assigning a simple three-word address to each square to let others know where you are, help optimize routes, and locate hard-to-find addresses. Scout is “navigation gone social,” a GPS navigation app that also helps plan meetups, facilitates chat conversations, and shows real-time locations and ETAs of friends.
- Resource Guides — Harness the vast wealth of knowledge on the Internet with online forums and sites like ReidsGcom to help save money when planning your next adventure.
Happy trails…and be sure to send us the new resources and apps you find helpful in your upcoming travels.