You do not need travel agents to plan your trip. You have your smartphone and everything is several clicks away to have a wonderful travel experience. Proper planning makes all the difference between a rushed, stressful trip and a restful, worry-free vacation.
With your smartphone and lots of travel apps, you have all the necessary tools to make your vacation a breeze. From trip planners and itinerary generators to online marketplaces for flights and hotels, there’s no shortage of apps designed to help the tech-savvy traveller.
Below is a good selection of apps that would be a great help in making sure your next trip goes off without a hitch:
Skyscanner has got you covered – from fights to hotels to rental cars. The app searches for the most affordable and best options via its travel partners. Like with Google Flights, you can see the cheapest dates to fly through a month view calendar, and you can also get alerts when prices change. If you are not sure where exactly you want to go, Skyscanner offers a category that lets you explore “Top Deals” from your nearest airport and a curated list of destinations at affordable prices.
Nothing takes the fun out of a vacation like getting stuck in traffic. But loading Waze (Android, iOS) on your phone before you hit the road can spare you some frustration. The navigation app feeds your smartphone real-time traffic information, based on reports from other Waze users. That data includes accidents, speed traps and other hazards that might keep you from getting to your destination in a timely fashion. Other features sure to impress travellers include automatic rerouting, cheap gas alerts and the ability to send your ETA to anyone waiting at your final stop.
Over 70 million people have registered with Duolingo, a free and incredibly well-designed language learning app. Though it is not a replacement for proper language tuition, the app is a fun way to get the basics or to keep you fresh on grammar and vocabulary before a trip abroad. Just like a computer game, the app guides you through levels that you need to complete before advancing, and you gain experience points along the way.
XE is the go-to site for currency conversions on the web, so it is no surprise that its app is so popular: with over 20 million downloads since launch. It has lots of business-oriented features, such as rates for precious metals and historic currency charts, but for the traveller it is most useful for the simple fact that it is able to convert every world currency. It also functions offline by saving the last updated rates, which is great if you’re in a place with limited connectivity or trying to save on data.
App in the Air
App in the Air is a smart, straightforward, flight tracking app that has the best coverage of airlines and airports. It will keep you updated about flight status – even if you don’t have internet coverage – and helps you manage your time at the airport, breaking down each flight into four stages; check in, boarding, takeoff and landing time.
Guides by Lonely Planet
Lonely Planet guides are a great way to plan a trip to a new city. You can download one for free before hitting the streets, so no need to use data if you’re travelling abroad. Known for budget travel recommendations and quirky cafes, Lonely Planet does an amazing of providing sightseeing suggestions as well as local hot spots. They have a bevy of local and expat authors writing for them, so their suggestions are nuanced. The app is fairly comprehensive, offering guides for cities like Rio Di Janeiro, Barcelona, Cape Town and Beijing, and more to come.
Airbnb is now a household name but it was not that long ago that it upturned the way people booked their accommodation on holiday. It used to be that if you were going away you pretty much stayed at a hotel or a hostel. The app makes booking your accommodation simple, and also has guides for local inspiration and a section for booking experiences.
Booking.com is one of the world’s best known hotels booking websites. Their smartphone app builds on their successful model, allowing you to search for the best deals on over one million hotel rooms and homes all across the world. If you are struggling with where to book, there are over 107 million user reviews to help you decide. Once you have completed your booking, you will receive instant confirmation of your booking, complete with paperless check-in and offline maps of the area.
Google Trips is the travel planning app from the search giant. Where Google Trips is different from the other travel planners is that you do not actually book through Trips – this is the app you use to collate all of the information about your trip, and being Google, it provides plenty of suggestions of things to add once you’re there.
The app pulls in all of your bookings for your trip from your Gmail account and brings them together, meaning if you find deals from a number of different places, rather than having to have a number of different apps, emails and print-outs all giving you piecemeal information, you have your entire itinerary in one place.