TRAVEL APPS HOW-TO
10 Travel Apps That Save You Time and Money
From trip planning to packing to getting around a foreign city—and even speaking the language—let these easy-to-use apps power your next vacation!
If you don't want to stray far, though, and would rather purchase a tablet to read a book on, rent a DVD, or grab a snack, Smart Layover provides deals with InMotion electronics stores, restaurants, and retail stores. You pay 10 percent of the deal up front via the app, then the rest of the purchase price at the store via QR code. For now, you have to type in your credit card each time you buy something, but Smart Layover eventually plans to add credit-card storage to the app in an upcoming update.
MAKE A LAST-MINUTE HOTEL SWITCH WITH HOTEL TONIGHT
Last-minute hotel booking app Hotel Tonight has gotten major buzz for its swanky, user-friendly app that unleashes discounted day-of bookings at high noon every day.
"Just recently, we had hotel rooms in New York selling for under 100 bucks over the Fourth of July weekend," says Jared Simon, COO and co-founder of Hotel Tonight. "Similarly, we sold $99 rooms country-wide on New Year's Eve in 2011." The app reaches 12 countries in North America and Western Europe as of right now.
Another useful feature is the app's ability to snag last-minute hotel rooms in cities hosting big events, like the Super Bowl. The bargains aren't quite as good then, but if you're bound and determined to stay in a certain place at a certain time, it's a good tool to have in your arsenal.
NAVIGATE BIG CITIES WITH TRIPADVISOR'S CITY GUIDES
If you need general facts about the city you're in and you need them now, TripAdvisor's Offline City Guides are a no-nonsense way to get an overview of what's going on. Download maps straight from the app for free, without Wi-Fi—useful for foreign cities to avoid roaming fees. When downloaded, the guides take up a big chunk of memory space on your phone, but the lists of restaurants, hotels, shopping, nightlife, tours, and attractions are extensive, all with TripAdvisor's signature reviews and ratings.
A few other fun (free) features: You can check out suggested itineraries, see public transportation information, and send virtual "postcards" via Facebook, text, or email using the app's instagram-like filters in quirky customizable frames that feature sentiments like "Greetings from New York City," "Miss You," and "What a View!"
SPEAK THE LANGUAGE WITH JIBBIGO
Languages as common as Spanish and French and as obscure as Esperanto and Pashto are included in the 20 languages Jibbigo can translate via text or voice. The free app requires a Wi-Fi connection, but if you pony up for Jibbigo Plus, you can download the translators and use them offline anywhere. Prices range from $2.99 to $4.99 for "language pairs" like English/German to regional packages (Asia, Europe) for $9.99. Twenty-five bucks buys you the complete "world" package.
The app is still working out some Siri-like bugs with the voice translator, but you can tap that spoken text and edit it to make sure it "hears" you correctly, says Elizabeth Criss, communications coordinator for Jibbigo. You can also share the translations via text, email, or social media if you find a translation particularly compelling—or particularly funny. More telling: Facebook liked the company behind Jibbigo so much that it recently acquired it.
"I can't tell you how many customers write to tell us how the app saved them on a travel adventure," Criss says. "When you are in a foreign land, you don't have Wi-Fi, and you don't know the language, Jibbigo is your best friend."
SEE THE SIGHTS WITH PICFARI
Making your Instagram followers jealous is now easier than ever with Picfari, a photo hunt app that shows you where to get the best shots of landmarks and vistas and encourages you to snap the best photo opps in popular locales ranging from Atlanta to Istanbul.
"It's like scouting a location that professionals do when shooting a movie or planning a photo shoot," says app co-founder Scott Herr. "Depending on the time you have in a place, you can choose an Express Picfari—the four to six best shots of a location—up to the longer, more comprehensive All-Star Picfari, 10 to 15 shots."
Plan far ahead and store Picfaris in your phone before you hit a locale (no Wi-Fi necessary), or be spontaneous with the Picfaris Around Me function, which leads you to hunts right around where you're standing. You can't push the photos to social media through the app yet, but that's on the horizon for one of Picfari's future updates.