Proper planning makes all the difference between a rushed, stressful trip and a restful, worry-free vacation, whether you're traveling during the height of winter storm season or just making a quick weekend getaway. 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 that can help make sure your next trip goes off without a hitch, including a must-have app for dealing with long lines at the airport. (Image Credit: Porpor Ling/Shutterstock)
It's not the most glamorous-looking app in the world, but MyTSA (Android, iOS) — the official app of the Transportation Security Administration — can save you from some anxious moments getting to your flight. MyTSA's star feature is the ability to check wait times at security checkpoints at key airports. The app includes historical wait-time data while also giving you the option of checking crowd-sourced reports of how long security lines are at that moment. The ability to search what you can bring on a plane, get live assistance and find out info on the TSA PreCheck program make this a good app for travlers to keep handy on their smartphone.
Google Trips (Android, iOS) turns your smartphone into an all-in-one travel assistant, consolidating travel itineraries and reservations from your emails into automatically sorted trips. Google automatically collates your flight details, hotel and car reservations, tour itineraries and other information available in your emails, while also providing recommendations, suggested day plans, and related local sights and attractions based on your tastes, interests and local travel tips. Users can save their trip details locally to their smartphone, allowing for offline use away from local Wi-Fi or pricey roaming rates.
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.
If you're traveling light and looking to save a few bucks, check out Skiplagged (Android, iOS), a neat app that can keep your travel costs down by taking advantage of "hidden city flights", where flyers get off at a layover, instead of at the final destination. Users enter their origin and target destination, and Skiplagged will show you the cost of a direct flight, as well as any cheaper "hidden city" flights that have your intended destination as a layover. The caveat? Stick to carry-on luggage, as any checked-in bags will go all the way to the flight's final destination. Skiplagged also allows you to book hotels, including last-minute deals and special offers.
Getting a ride in a new city used to be a challenge, but apps like Uber (Android, iOS) have been a disruptive, on-demand transit revolution. Operating in dozens of countries and more than 600 cities, Uber makes hailing a ride simplicity itself, so long as you can get a mobile or Wi-Fi connection. Set up an account, link a credit card, and then simply type in your destination to request your ride; Uber will do the hard work of connecting you to a vetted driver, complete with an upfront pricing. While last year was a rough one for the company, Uber remains a valuable resource for casual and business travelers in cities worldwide.
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.
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.