When it comes to traveling, I'm sure you'd agree with me that the more cost-effective, the better. After all, there are several free travel apps to help save you money this summer. All it'll cost you is a few minutes of your time to download the apps, and you'll soon start reaping the benefits.
"Travel trends all scream one word — mobile," Rob Day, General Manager at Secret Escapes, a website which hand-picks hotels, holidays, and offers to its members, tells Bustle. "Be it the inspiration and discovery phase or the research phase (where you shortlist potential vacation spots, investigate options, and compare prices, and then make the booking itself), the wealth of apps available across all mobile operating systems bring travel to our fingertips. Gone are the times where we'd have to visit an actual travel agent to feel comfortable and confident in a big purchase. We're using apps, trusting online content, and we're making those big purchases using our mobile phones. Thanks to social media, there's no shortage of travel inspiration, and thanks to advances in meta search and specialist deals websites, it's easy to snag a great price for your dream escape."
I definitely agree with Day. If you spend a bit of time looking for deals, you'll certainly find them with one of the many travel-related apps on the market.
Before Your Trip, Collect Travel Rewards
It probably goes without saying that another way to prep for your future trip is to use a credit card with travel rewards. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is an example of a great rewards travel credit card. "More than half of Chase Sapphire Reserve cardmembers are millennials — so the card has clearly struck a chord," a spokesperson for Chase Sapphire tells Bustle. "Chase Sapphire Reserve received tens of thousands of applications in the first couple weeks of launch last summer. Due to such high demand, we actually temporarily ran out of metal cards. We find that millennials and the Millennial–minded value the accumulations of experiences over things. Chase Sapphire Reserve is about rewarding our customers for things that matter to them — especially when those things aren't actual 'things' at all. And since Sapphire rewards on a broad definition of travel, the card rewards them 3x points on their own terms."
Now that you're using some travel rewards credit cards, here are some free travel apps to help save you money for your next trip. And the best part? All the apps below are free unless otherwise indicated, so get your phone ready to download them.
Not only can you find fellow travelers' reviews and pictures on everything from where to eat to tourist attractions, but you can also check out maps (and download and save them) and research the lowest airfares and hotels through the app. There's also a "Near Me Now" feature; yes, to find places close to your current location.
"The TripAdvisor app can help you effortlessly find the lowest price on the right rental, accommodation, or attraction for you," Laurel Greatrix, TripAdvisor Rentals spokesperson, tells Bustle. "With access to millions of reviews and photos, the TripAdvisor app is the ultimate travel companion that can help you navigate any destination like a local — and book great things to do. The app also has the ability to download maps and content in over 300 cities worldwide onto your phone for free, to avoid expensive data roaming."
The app has a "My Trips" section, too, where you can save items you like on TripAdvisor in order to help with your planning. "Travelers can save their research and bookings and collaborate and share their itineraries with family and friends," Greatix says. "So when you land for vacation, instead of digging around in your emails for all of your information, just pull up 'My Trips' on the app and start enjoying your trip."
The Viator app is great because it's chock full of suggestions for your vacation. You can find everything from tours to ideas you may not have thought about before. For instance, its Skip the Line passes let you do just that at popular attractions — Eiffel Tower, anyone?! — to private VIP experiences. Of course, you can also check out others' reviews before you make a decision. Whether you're a planner and have every minute of your trip accounted for or are looking for something fun to do at the last minute, Viator is an ideal app for both types of travelers. Plus, there are full-screen local videos so you can get a glimpse of an event or attraction in advance. And did I mention Viator's low-price guarantee?!
If you're between 18 and 30, Topdeck Travel is the app for you. They offer a wide variety of trips around the world — in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Egypt and the Middle East, North America, Africa, and Asia. So if you want to travel with fellow travelers instead of solo, Topdeck makes it easy to. However, that doesn't mean you have to necessarily be glued at the hip. Plus, via the app, you can manage your itinerary, track your spending across various currencies (how cool!), check out city guides, and so on.
"The Topdeck app is an easy-to-use mobile tool that will keep you organized and connected with your fellow travelers while you're abroad," Maria Eilersen, Global PR and Communications Manager at Topdeck Travel, tells Bustle. "No need to download a list of different apps to use while on vacation. The Topdeck app is the perfect place to house your itinerary and all of your important travel details. It's both practical and a fun way to stay in touch with those you meet on your trip with built-in group chats and maps with pre-set pins, making it a breeze to check off everything on your bucket list. There is also a budget feature to equip travelers with an easy way to track exactly how much they're spending and make sure they don't go over budget." Enough said.
I can't think of anyone who wouldn't like to save money on airfare and hotels. Can you? And Skiplagged does just that. As their website states, "We're better at finding cheap flights than anyone else — so good, United Airlines actually sued us for it."
So how does the app work? They try to find you a flight that can save you up to 80 percent. Plus, they have a "hidden city" option, i.e., you may be looking for a flight to Chicago, but a flight to Boston with a layover in Chicago may be cheaper. So, just get off in Chicago. (Of course, don't check your bags to Boston!) I really wish I would have started using this app sooner!
When you're looking for flight, hotel, and rental car deals, Skyscanner makes for an ideal app to use. You can compare prices for all of the aforementioned, all with an easy-to-read interface. You can also get Price Alerts when prices change, as well as get Top Deals. In addition, you can get travel inspiration by selecting "Everywhere" in the destination box to see deals featuring destinations around the world. You can find your accommodation, too, even last-minute, i.e., for tonight. And if you need a car, Skyscanner will help you out there, too. The only question is: When are you leaving on your trip?
With Secret Escapes, you can search for and book luxury hotels and holidays. Plus, the app provides you with flash sales, aka travel deals with savings of up to 70 percent off the best rates online, whether you're looking for a last-minute destination or a trip up to a year away. And if you need a hotel tonight, Secret Escapes will help find you one.
It's free to join, and you'll get access to over 100 "escapes" each week. Furthermore, you can also start a wish list and save your favorite escapes for later. The app also guarantees that their prices will be better than the same deal anywhere else online. Sounds like a no-brainer to join, right?!
Just because you're traveling doesn't mean you should let your budget fall to the wayside, especially not when there are apps to help you, like Trail Wallet. It makes for an ideal expense tracker, so you can see if you're sticking to your daily budget. You set a daily budget and then add expenses via Quick Add as you go along
Also, the app will let you know where you're spending too much money, so you can adjust accordingly. In addition, you can also add in amounts in your own currency, or in the country-in-question's currency. Trail Wallet is free for up to 25 items, and definitely worth a try!
Naturally, currency conversion will be an issue if you're leaving your home country. And although doing math in your head is a great exercise for keeping your brain and math skills in check, the XE Currency app is a money conversion lifesaver. The app provides live exchange rates and charts; plus, you can set an XE Rate Alert to keep track of your favorite currencies, and you can monitor up to 10 currencies at one time. If you're wondering how often currencies are updated, live rates are refreshed each minute for every world currency and precious metal.
For $1.99, you can get the XE Currency Pro and keep track of even more currencies at one time.
You probably agree that it's awful when you need to find a destination, yet you can't. You don't have a paper map — who does?! — and you still have to buy a SIM card for the country you're in, so you can't get online. However, with Maps.me, you can see offline maps, and they're fast and free.
The app will also help direct you to where you need to go, in addition to showing you Points of Interest (POIs), hiking trails, and places other maps may not. If you're wondering how it works, the maps are updated by millions of OpenStreetMap contributors daily. You can also look up other things aside from directions, like cafes and ATMs. And if you need to find somewhere to sleep, the app will connect you to Booking.com. Score!
Who doesn't love a good walking tour?! With Detour, you can get immersive audio walking tours for cities all over the world, courtesy of journalists and filmmakers who have produced many of the tours from their point of view. Detour calls itself "the world's first social audio tour," and it sounds intriguing, to say the least! You can also sync up your audio with your friends, as well as connect your GPS so you make sure you're in the right place!
At the moment, it's available in 17 cities worldwide, and some features include video previews and an in-app camera with augmented reality. From Radiolab to Errol Morris, the various narrators help make this app fun and unique, which will make your walk all the more memorable. It sounds like a step in the right direction, for sure!
With Rome2rio, the app helps you compare various modes of transportation, as well as their prices. So gone are the days of having to open multiple Internet windows and compare and contrast. Rome2rio will display flight, train, bus, ferry, and driving options, as well as estimated travel times and fares. This will not only help save you money, but also time, and when you're traveling, you want to maximize every spare moment!
When you're traveling out of your country, chances are that you may not be fluent in the language of the country you're visiting. That's where Google Translate comes to the rescue! The app can translate between 103 languages, and can translate many, 52, even without an Internet connection! Plus, it can translate bilingual conversations in 32 languages — talk about high-tech! On top of which, you can also translate signs. Whaaaaaat?! Yep, just take a photo and Google Translate will tell you what the sign says — this feature is available in 30 languages, which is still plenty. And instead of typing, you can also have handwriting translated if you're more into drawing text characters (which is available in 93 languages).
So, until you become fluent in more languages, or even to perfect your fluency in a certain language, Google Translate will be happy to help.
Airbnb is a lifesaver when it comes to finding a place to sleep while traveling, especially with their Instant Book feature when you need to find a place STAT. The app has over 2.5 million homes in over 191 countries, and a lot of hosts Airbnb rooms or entire places as a side hustle. In addition, some hosts create online Guidebooks, too, which definitely help amp up the Airbnb experience, I think.
Plus, Airbnb now has "Experiences," too, so you can always choose one of those instead of or in addition to housing. With an Airbnb "Experience," a local plays tour guide and posts something you can do in their town or city, from riding horses to biking together. And reading reviews is another essential must-do, of course, so you can get an idea of the place you're going to.
If you're more on a budget while traveling, Hostelworld is all about finding you, yep, hostels. However, you'll also find private rooms on the app, akin to Airbnb — it's nice to have options! As with other sleeping accommodation apps, you can also filter regarding what type of room you want, how much you want to spend, what amenities you want (washing machine, anyone?), look at the cleanliness ratings of each place, and so on. With over 33,000 hostels worldwide, chances are high you'll find one to sleep in! Plus, a great bonus of hostels is meeting fellow travelers — you can be social if you feel like it, or a hermit if you feel like it.
I think the key with this app is to read the reviews. If you want a party hostel, you can find one. If you don't, you can find that, too. And with all the money you're saving on housing, you'll have more money to spend on other travel experiences.
15Couchsurfing Travel App
With the Couchsurfing Travel App, you won't only find ~free~ couches to stay on all over the world, but also local events to attend — some are planned in advance while others are taking place right now, like tonight, through Couchsurfing Hangouts. So, even if you don't couchsurf, you can still meet up with others via the app, locals, and/or fellow travelers, and have a unique, authentic glimpse into local life, i.e., they can introduce you to off-the-radar places. Plus, the app is ~super~ popular, with over 12 million travelers using it in more than 230,000 cities around the world. You can also read others' reviews, so you make sure the people you're staying or meeting with are legit. Personally, I'm a big fan of couchsurfing and think everyone should try it at least once.
You're probably familiar with Uber, though did you know you can usually use it abroad, too? Fun fact: Uber is available in more than 500 cities worldwide. Though you can likely find several modes of transportation while you're traveling, Uber's a great one — and even more convenient since you won't have to use cash (in case you haven't exchanged money yet). Yes, you may see taxis and shuttle buses to take you places, like the airport, but Uber's like having your very own driver, as you know, and there's a big benefit in that. Plus, in my experience, it's often cheaper in other cities, like Eastern Europe, versus in the U.S., so that's another plus. Going all the way across town for just $2-4? Yes, please! To cut savings even more, you can also use UberPOOL, which means the driver will pick up another passenger (or few), too, which could mean a new travel buddy for you!
So, as you can see, there are a ton of travel apps to help save you money for your next trip. And the best part is, you can use that saved money on experiences or future trips.