Nothing can take away the excitement of getting ready to go on a trip, except maybe the packing, planning, getting lost, language barriers, flight delays, etc. The good news is you don’t have to let those potential hurdles stand in the way of an awesome, well-deserved getaway if you find the right tools to help you stay organized.
Check out some of the best apps and websites that will transform you from confused tourist into happy traveler.
Waze: Forget about printing out directions from MapQuest or bringing a clunky GPS into your vehicle on your road trip. Download Waze as your free GPS and not only will you get where you need to go, but you’ll avoid traffic jams and speed traps and navigate detours. The app works well since it’s updated in real time by drivers, so you won’t waste gas by missing an exit or getting lost because of an outdated map.
Conversion confusion averted
The Converted by Ideon: Not only does this clever app figure out currency conversions if you’re going on a world tour, but it helps with other conversions that feel foreign to Americans, like Celsius to Fahrenheit degrees and kilometers to miles. Speaking the same language when it comes to cost and sizes will ensure that you know exactly what you’re getting and how much you’re paying. You’ll pay $2.99 for the iPhone app, though.
Wish You Were Here 2.0
Postagram: Remember the feeling of getting a postcard in the mail from a loved one? That has fallen somewhat out of fashion, thanks to Facebook and Instagram, but this free app for iPhone and Android is bringing back personalized postcards. Postagram lets you send personalized photos and messages on actual paper postcards for 99 cents each, but making your relatives back home smile is priceless.
Foreign language 101
Google Translate: Lost in a foreign country or have a question about a menu item? This free app, available for Apple and Android, saves you the time (and embarrassment) of trying to get your words across by allowing you to speak your request in English, and then translating into the language of choice with one button tap.
Pack & Go Deluxe: If you’re the type to stress over packing for the whole family, this app (just $1.99 for iPhone) could be well worth the couple of bucks to help you streamline your trip prep. Offering all types of packing list suggestions (i.e. for camping, baby-specific, etc.), as well as a tool for managing all of those odds and ends you have to shop for in advance, you’ll leave your house knowing you have everything you need, and avoid paying hotel/resort prices for items you forgot.
Gate Guru: Sometimes the most harrowing part of your trip is getting to the correct airline gate on time. If you’re a frequent traveler, or if your trip involves stops at multiple airports, this app will ensure that you don’t miss your flight because you took a wrong turn. Even better, it will alert you about flight delays, and map out food and shopping options for when you have some time to kill. This app is free for iPhone, Android and Windows devices.
Expense reports simplified
Concur: If you travel for business, keeping track of receipts and filling out expense reports can be tedious. This free iPhone and Android app eliminates all of the paperwork by allowing you to track and submit your travel expenses while you’re still on the road.
TripCase: If you’re in charge of keeping all the nitty gritty trip details straight — from flights to hotel reservations to events and attractions — this is a must download. Especially helpful if you’re traveling with a group, you can share itineraries so no one misses a meet up.
Airbnb: Search on the website for accommodations in the cities you’ll be visiting. Use the site’s maps, reviews and neighborhood guides for help in narrowing down your choice. Each accommodation features its own set of photos, descriptions, maps, etc.
Recoup Price Drops
Tingo: This is a new resource from the people at TripAdvisor and AirfareWatchdog. Book your hotel on Tingo and if the price drops, you’ll be notified and get money back.
Cheap Lodging Abroad
Hostel Bookers: The name sounds like this site offers the kind of accommodations we used as frugal college students backpacking our way through our 20s. But this is a true budget hotel website, with more than 20,000 comfortable – even luxurious – accommodations from Paris to Beijing. There are no chains; offerings are mostly small, family-owned boutique hotels.
Hotel Tonight: Deciding on a last minute getaway or need to find a room because you missed your flight? As its name implies, this free Apple and Android app will help you find a place to sleep tonight. The website lists only hotels with unsold, available rooms for that night, so you can’t use it to book ahead. However, last-minute rooms are often as much as 70 percent off.
CityMaps2Go: Never get lost in a big city again. This free phone app lets you download maps and guides to over 7,000 world cities.
By using apps like these in your travels, you can save yourself some stress, make the most of your trip and even end up saving some money. Give them a shot, and let us know what your favorite travel apps are.