5 Must Have Apps That Will Help Plan Travel
Whether you are doing some light travel browsing and planning or seriously locking down details on a trip and booking reservations, here are 5 must have apps to assist in your travel planning.
This app watches flight prices to predict the best time to book your flight. I’m currently using Hopper for my potential birthday trips to Greece and Belize. Make sure you set your notifications so you can be instantly alerted when a flight should be booked. For example, from LAX to Athens, Hopper is currently showing me prices for the months ahead, almost up to a full year in advance. Green dates show me the best prices, and red dates will show the highest prices, which for right now is the summer months. I simply click on the month I’m interested in traveling in, further narrow it down by selecting my dates, and that will give me the current price of that flight. Hopper will advise me on whether I should book now, because they predict the prices won’t get any better, or whether to wait for the prices to lower based on previous price activity. For LAX to Athens, Hopper advises me to book now since it “hasn’t seen a price this low for the past 2 months”. It also lets me know if I am “not ready to buy, watch for deals: you could still save $13 per ticket”. This leads to the Watch This Trip option. Hopper will alert or notify me when prices have dropped or risen again, advising on whether I should by now. Price Prediction is another helpful tool that the app offers. It predicts whether flight prices will drop or rise. Again using the LA to Athens example, Hopper predicts that the prices more than likely won’t drop, but instead will vary over the next few weeks. Then after that, up until the days before my departure date the price will increase about $80. After my departure date, prices will soar at about a $400 increase.
On the other end, for LAX to Belize, Hopper is suggesting I wait for a better price. Based on this, I add this destination to my watch list so I can be alerted when the flight drops an estimated $145. Hopper predicts that up until a few weeks before my departure date, the prices will vary over the next 3 months. However, after those 3 months, prices are predicted to increase about $55. And after my departure date, prices are expected to climb at least $265. Using the “flights” tab, I am also able to view the exact flights, airlines, and prices of the flights for my selected dates.
The tagline for this app is “Discover how to get anywhere”, and you can do just that with this app. I used it in Italy to assist in booking train tickets, as well as for navigation, so it is internationally friendly. To use the app, enter in your origin, and then your destination. Let’s start with Rome to Milan. Rome2Rio will list all of the ways to get to and from, whether it’s plane, train, or automobile, including the cost. You can immediately see and eliminate those options not within your budget or timeframe. No thanks to the bus option that will have me in Milan in 8 hours. In my travels, I chose the train option, a semi-quick 2 hour and 56 minute route. The app takes me directly to Trenitalia site where I can search the train schedule and book my seat. Rome2Rio will even connect me to Uber, where available and give me the estimated cost for that option.
This app offers guides to help you plan a roadtrip. Browse the specific guides for certain locations such as “Road Trip Down the Appalachian Trail”, “The Ultimate Route 66 Road Trip”, and “Boston to Miami: Road Trip Down the Atlantic Coast”. You can also plan your own guide by using the “Start New Trip” feature at the Home screen. The cool thing about this app is that it is interactive. When you first open the app it asks ‘What you are looking for?’ While en route, you can click on the “Quick Snack” option, for example, and it will read your location and provide you with food options along the way. If you want to start from scratch, here’s how to plan a trip using the “Start New Trip” option. The app picks up my current location and my end destination is Phoenix, AZ. Roadtrippers will instantly tell me how long it takes to get there, how many miles away, and how much it will cost in gas. Using the discovery option and zooming into the map, it will show me stops along the way that will allow me to “add to trip”. For example, along the route is La Quinta Cliffhouse, a restaurant that may be tasty enough to grab some dinner. I check out the more info tab and find out the hours, exact location, price range, and other pertinent information. I also have the option to view the website and leave a review. If I’m not ready to add it to my trip, I can always save it to my favorites and revisit at a later time.
I admittedly wish I had known about this app when I took my trip up the PCH. Their guide “Pacific Coast Highway: California”, would’ve come in handy for some off the beaten path sites. The PCH guide advises you of the must see spots while roadtrippin’. It starts in San Diego, and lists touristy spots, local eateries, and hiking trails before making your way towards Los Angeles and beyond. It will let you know about some unique locations that you may not find by doing a basic Google search. For example, in the San Diego area, the guide suggests visiting the Carlsbad Mineral Water Spa, where you soak in a mineral water bath or buy alkaline water for 70 cents per gallon. Where else have you heard of something like this?! You can browse the featured guides, or visit the nearby guides section for some ideas on where to plan your next roadtrip. I already have some ideas to visit Death Valley in the ‘cooler’ months, Santa Barbara, and Temecula in the California area, but I will also use it to plan out some day trips in other states as well, or use the “48 Hrs – Weekend City Guides” to help plan my travels. It’s the season of roadtrips, so I’m stoked to use more of this app this summer!
For the last minute traveler:
4.) GTFO – Get The Flight Out!
Let's talk about how cute the name of this app is though! Created by the innovators of Hopper, GTFO monitors last-minute round trip flights that leave the same-day or next-day, based on your home airport (or whichever airport you provide). GTFO will provide you with a list of cities and the prices for last minute flights out. For example, my "Trips from LAX” list, from LAX to PHX, the cost for a trip ranging for 2-8 days, would start at $88, leaving LAX at 7:30 the next morning (these are the flight times when I check the app around 5pm). It will provide non-stop options where available. Simply click on the flight option that works for you, and the app will take you to where you can book the flight. If I select the 7:30am flight to Phoenix, 3-day trip, GTFO will take me to either Orbitz or Travelocity to book the flight.
5.) Hotel Tonight
Once you have used GTFO to book your last minute flight, and you need a place to stay, Hotel Tonight offers deals for up to a week in advance. For example, I used the app when I was looking for lodging in Portland. I simply waited until 7 days prior, and searched the app for a place to stay. (Sidenote: I did have a few hotel options in case the Hotel Tonight app didn’t have what I needed.) Some hotels offer a “geo rate” which offers even more of a discount on the going rate, and I had a first time user promo code, to help even further reduce the costs. Each hotel selection will tell you “Why We Like It”, the good things about the hotel, the amenities they offer, provide photos for you to view, and reviews of what other Hotel Tonight users had to say about the property. Some hotels will provide a personal concierge service, where you can request things such as early check-in. This app would be good for a last minute staycation or for a quick weekend getaway because it also gives you the best hotel deals within driving distance. You can download the app and play around with the different cities to get an idea of the costs and whether it’s worth it to use on your next trip. Just remember that this app is geared more for the last-minute traveler so if you need to book a spot in a more timely fashion, this isn’t the app for you. Also, good news, the creators are currently working on getting the app to more markets, such as the Caribbean, so once they do it will be very beneficial to those (at the very least) in the Miami area where the Caribbean is a short plane ride away for those last-minute weekend getaways.
So here you have it, 5 apps that you should download right now to help you plan out your travels for the summer and beyond. Which apps are you using that I should know about for travel planning or just travel in general?