Want to save money on your next trip, whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure? There are mobile apps for that. In addition to digging up good deals on flights, hotels and restaurants, the best travel apps track and “learn” your preferences (such as the kind of hotel you prefer).
Multiple apps are a must for optimizing trip planning, says Michael Puldy, a seasoned traveler and the author of The Millennial’s Guide to Business Travel. “There’s no one magic bullet that ties everything together,” he says. “You often have to look at individual apps to inform you and make your own decisions.”
Here are four of Puldy’s favorite apps. All are free and available for iOS and Android.
- KAYAK. The popular travel search website—which covers flights, hotels, car rentals, restaurants, vacation packages and more—also has a very useful app, Puldy says. You can customize your searches to quickly find the lowest prices and sign up to get alerts for flight status, fare changes relating to your destination, and more. “Mobile-only” deals are available. The Trips function lets you keep your booking receipts and itinerary organized and handy, and also allows collaboration with fellow travelers.
- HotelTonight. If you’re willing to book hotels at the last minute, this may be the app for you. Partner hotels from around the world load unsold rooms and offer them at discounts—sometimes steep ones. The app works with a curated list of lodgings from the top-rated luxury category to lower-budget-yet-trendy places. “It shows you exactly what hotel you’re booking, rather than making you wait until after you’ve booked to find out, unlike some other last-minute booking tools,” Puldy says. (You can’t generally choose which room within a hotel you want to book, though.) Can’t stand suspense? Some travelers reserve a cancel-able hotel room in advance and then use HotelTonight to see if they can find a better deal right before they leave, Puldy says.
- OpenTable. Want to earn dining rewards while you eat? OpenTable lets users find and book tables at popular restaurants in cities all around the U.S. and gives points that can be redeemed for dining rewards or for Amazon gift cards. “I’ll book tables using OpenTable even if I’m standing right outside the restaurant,” Puldy says.
- Hopper. What’s the best time to get a deal on ever-fluctuating airfares or hotel charges? Sometimes the best price is available months in advance; other times it can be days before departure. Hopper analyzes an archive of trillions of past bookings to predict whether airfares on a particular route or prices at a particular hotel will go up or down. You can book flights and hotels directly through the app, although Puldy says he often likes to go directly to an airline’s website for more information and for earning or redeeming rewards.
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