Proper planning makes all the difference between a rushed, stressful trip and a restful, worry-free vacation, whether you're traveling for a jam-packed summer trip or just a quick getaway over a three-day holiday weekend. Luckily, mobile apps are here to help. 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 traveler. Here are a selection of apps we feel could be a great help in making sure your next trip goes off without a hitch. (Photo Credit: Jaromir Chalabal/Shutterstock)
Hipmunk (Android, iOS) presents a fast, all-in-one travel planning and booking solution, with a powerful flight and hotel search engine. In addition to the usual flight search criteria such as price, Hipmunk also includes an agony index for flight duration, number of stops and other factors. Users can also take advantage of last minute hotel deals, view reviews from TripAdvisor and other sources, and check out heat maps that show hotel proximity to shopping, dining and entertainment venues.
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 travelers include automatic rerouting, cheap gas alerts and the ability to send your ETA to anyone waiting at your final stop.
Google's own flight finder and price tracking service, Google Flights, has steadily added on to its features and reliability since its launch in 2011, making it an excellent companion app for prospective travelers looking for a great deal on international and local flights. Google Flights works its magic by comparing prices across thousands of flights from flag carriers, budget airlines, and charter flights to bring the best price, and in addition, Google works in its own search magic into the mix, allowing users to filter their searches through a variety of parameters, searching for flights by date, departure or destination airports, and more. Google also added a price prediction feature, alerting you to price changes, and likely fluctuations in price.
Skyscanner (Android, iOS) is a great tool for travelers looking for the perfect deal on domestic and international flights. SkyScanner works its magic by comparing prices across millions of flights and hundreds of airlines. From there, users can book flights directly from the app with provided links to travel agents or airlines. Flights can be filtered by airline, cabin class, price or takeoff and landing times, with weekly or monthly chart views to check out prices over time.
Another app bringing big data and predictive algorithms to the world of air travel is Hopper (Android, iOS), whose key selling point is the use of a massive database of airline prices and historical trends to predict when prices to a destination are likely to be lowest, when they're likely to change, and the best time to buy a ticket for a particular date and destination. Users can watch flights on specific dates or destinations, and the app will advise you whether it's worth it to buy now or to wait, tell you the dates when it's likely cheapest to fly, estimate changes in price, and notify you of price drops or rises. Users can save their payment details within the app for quick booking.
Looking for a good airport lounge in which to kill time between flights? Whether you're traveling economy or first class, LoungeBuddy (Android, iOS) comes to the rescue, helping you find airport lounges in more than 500 airports around the globe. A helpful Lounge Access Wizard allows you enter trip details, service level and any applicable elite benefits or memberships; LoungeBuddy pulls up a list of locations you can access for free or a one-time fee. Users can also filter or search by amenities, as well as view and post reviews and photos to share their experience with other travelers.
TripIt (Android, iOS) promises to cut back on the travel hassle by consolidating your travel plans into a simple, convenient itinerary. Viewable online and synced to your cell phone, you can also share itineraries with your contacts. You just link your email account to TripIt, and the service will automatically dig through your inbox for reservation confirmations and other forms. Using that data, TripIt builds an organized itinerary of your flight boarding times, hotel check-ins and more. The free app is ad-supported, while the paid version removes ads.