As most major retailers will tell you, the holidays are right around the corner. While some of us get to stay close to home for our holiday plans, about 30% of the US population will be traveling during this upcoming holiday season. With a high volume of fully booked flights, busses, trains, and hotel rooms (as well as the chance for an ill-timed winter storm), the holiday season is widely known as the most congested and difficult time to travel. If you’re planning on traveling at any point this holiday season, you’ll want to make sure you’re equipped with the best travel apps to make your trip easier to navigate.
If you’re flying and haven’t booked your tickets already, now is the time! Apps such as Skyscanner and Google Flights allow you to check the prices for available flights against the airlines’ sites as well as the online travel agency sites such as Expedia, Priceline, and Kayak. Both apps are free, and subsequently help you save money by finding the most affordable flight possible.
As you make your reservations, you’ll want a way to organize all of your travel info. TripIt and TripCase get rid of all that fine print and display only the most essential information from your confirmation emails. This way, you’ll have a nice, clean, chronological itinerary that you can refer to easily without scrolling through pages of text.
Once you’ve booked your tickets, you can use GateGuru to keep on top of your travel plans. GateGuru gives you real time information about your gate, terminal, security wait times, flight delays, and layover time adjustments. You also have access to airport amenity information, maps, weather forecasts, airport tips, and more. You can even rent a car through Avis directly through GateGuru.
In the Airport
Are you spending valuable travel time waiting out a long layover or flight delay? There are a handful of apps that allow you to make the best out of your current airport situation.
First and foremost, you’ll want to establish a fast and cheap (preferably free) wifi connection. While some airports offer free high-speed wifi, the sheer volume of holiday travelers is bound to slow down internet speeds. Apps such as Wifi Map and Wifi Finder allow you to see all the available wifi connections near your location, so you can find a solid connection amidst chaos.
Priority Pass shows you the airline lounges that are available to you at the airport. It even lets you view photos and amenities offered at each lounge, which gives you enough info to decide if shelling out for entry is worth it.
B4 You Board is another app that lets you master the airport. With B4 You Board, you can order food from the available terminal restaurants to be delivered directly to your gate. This can be handy if you don’t have enough time to grab a meal before heading to the airport, or if you need to stay by your gate for updates. It also helps you avoid buying an overpriced meal on your flight out of sheer desperation.
The Backup Plan
If you find yourself having to make alternative plans, there are few apps that can make changeing plans less of a headache.
Next Flight isn’t free, but can be worth its weight in gold during the busy holiday travel season. Next Flight shows you all available flights for the same day as well as the following two days. You’ll have quick access to flights that can be highly sought after, which can give you an edge while everyone else in the airport is waiting in line to rebook new flights. Even if there are no available flights, Next Flight can search for hotels, cabs, and car rentals so you won’t be stranded in the airport while you rethink your plans.
HotelTonight and Roomer can help you find suitable and inexpensive hotel accommodations at the drop of a hat. By taking advantage of last minute deals and cancellations, both apps allow you to see all last minute rooms available in your area at highly affordable prices.
On The Road
For those of you travelling by car, there are plenty of apps that can help you keep on top of your trip in real time. iExit allows you to look ahead and see what amenities are available at upcoming exits. This is really handy when you’re in need of food, gas, or lodging, but don’t have much information available for your current area. You can also search for specific amenities or businesses.
In the same vein, the GasBuddy app lets you see the available gas stations (including prices!) in your area. You can use the map function to see all the available gas stations near you, or search for the most affordable gas.
If you’re using public transit or other ground transportation, it always helps check if your chosen method of travel has its own app. Typically, transportation providers such as Amtrak or MegaBus have their own app that you can use to track your bus or train. If most of your travel will be done using local or regional public transit, try using AllSubway to figure out the best route for navigating your area.
No internet? No problem!
One of the biggest unknowns when it comes to travel (besides winter storms, traffic jams, and sheer acts of god) is reliable internet. You never know when you’ll have access to wifi, so it’s important to know have complete access to travel information whenever you need it. Luckily, apps such as Here, Maps.Me, Tripomatic, and Triposo make their detailed maps and related info available offline.
Whether you’re flying, driving, swimming, running, or strapping on your trusty cross-country skis to travel this holiday season, having the right apps in your pocket will help you stay on top of your travel plans.