With summer on the horizon, many of us are contemplating some well-deserved time off (ahhh, finally). Whether you plan to travel locally or abroad, figuring out the logistics and settling in at your destination can sometimes get in the way of actually relaxing. Luckily, technology can make things easier. Here are 11 useful travel apps to download now.
For Keeping Track of Rewards
It all starts with the booking process. To get the best deals on flights and hotels, you'll want to take stock of your points and rewards. Instead of spending hours logging in and looking up everything, travel expert Eric Rosen, former managing editor of The Points Guy, suggests checking out Award Wallet's app.
"It's an invaluable tool to keep track of all your frequent-flier miles and hotel and credit card points accounts in one place," Rosen says. While the initial setup takes time, it's worth it if you travel a few times a year or continually rack up rewards: "The app automatically updates when you link it to your accounts, and keeps tabs on balances, expiration dates, and more.”
For Cheap Hotel Rooms
If you're flexible, there are two great apps for finding rooms at low prices, according to consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch. The first is Roomer Travel, which connects you with travelers who are stuck with a hotel room they can’t cancel and are willing to transfer the reservation to you at a discount.
The second, HotelTonight, is for those who are okay with booking last-minute: The app provides luxury accommodations — at up to 70 percent off — up to a week in advance. "The app works with hotels that have last-minute cancellations or are looking to fill unbooked rooms and extend the discount to you," Woroch says.
For Keeping Your Itinerary Handy
Although there is a paid version, TripIt's free app is a great travel tool. It organizes all your hotel, airline, car rental, and restaurant confirmations into an itinerary, which you can then access whether you’re online or off. "Not only that, but it will update you with weather and directions for your destinations, and lets you share them with whomever you choose via email or social media," Rosen says.
For Airport Parking
Figuring out airport parking can be a headache, especially if you don't travel often or rarely leave your car. To make this process a cinch, Woroch suggests the Airport Parking Reservations app (iPhone only), which compares prices for parking lots at your departure airport to help you save money on short- or long-term parking.
Web-based FlightCar, a peer-to-peer car rental company that caters to air travelers, is another option. While it operates in just 12 cities, it lets you park at the airport for free, and potentially earn money if someone rents out your vehicle while you're away.
For Help With Air Travel Hassles
Flight delays. Cancellations. Overbooking issues. General airline complaints. Whatever vexes you, AirHelp app helps you understand your rights, allows you to file claims, and helps you (potentially) get your money back.
For Finding Fun Things to Do
When you get to your destination, don't walk around with your nose in a guidebook. Download Field Trip, which uses your location to find places worth checking out, from historic sites to popular shops, Woroch says. It also alerts you to special deals nearby.
She also suggests downloading EveryTrail, which, for $1.99, provides downloadable walking tours and offers turn-by-turn directions. "You'll learn everything you need to know about great places to stop along the way, from Boston’s Freedom Trail to La Rambla in Barcelona," Woroch says.
For Help With Money Conversions
"When you're out of the country and spending money right and left, it can be hard to do currency conversions on the fly," Rosen says. He suggests getting XE.com's app, which has the most up-to-date conversion rates for every currency in the world. It even stores the info so you can use the conversion feature offline.