Research by Nielsen indicates that 137 million U.S. customers use travel apps on phones and tablets each month. With so many travel apps it can be hard to dissect which ones are the best. Writing this post reminds me I have two iPhone folders full of travel apps and desperately need to clean house. Anyways, here are my favorite websites and travel apps for frequent flyers.
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Essential Websites and Travel Apps for Frequent Flyers
Various Airline and Hotel Apps
Download all the apps of the hotels and airlines you fly to stay up to date with the latest travel information. Some hotel apps give you the opportunity to skip the front desk and use your cell phone as your room key. I find airline apps more crucial as they’ll inform you of any delays, gate changes, and the ability to look at the upgrade list.
Ridesharing services can be cheaper than a cab, and most of the time I find the drivers friendlier than their taxi counterparts. If you’ve never used Uber, you can use my referral link or enter promo code “uberthankstyler” for a free ride up to $20, depending on your location.
If you’re renting a car in the USA or Canada, GasBuddy will find you the lowest gas prices around you. You can filter by distance or type of gas and even check out a map view to plan a fill up along your route. GasBuddy is available from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
ExpertFlyer is the single most important travel app you need as a travel hacker. As their tagline states, ExpertFlyer will change the way you fly. ExpertFlyer is the go-to place for checking availability, flight details, and award and upgrade opportunities! I use ExpertFlyer daily to check for award availability and set seat alerts when there’s no availability. With a seat alert, you’ll receive an email if/when an award seat opens up. I use this feature both when looking for flights and also if I’m looking to upgrade to business or first class. Click here to learn more about ExpertFlyer.
I use Yelp mainly to find restaurant suggestions, but they offer reviews on everything from dentists to home inspectors. The only downside is since most links are from tourists so the “hidden treasures” of your location might not be included. Click here to download the app.
WhatsApp is a free messaging and calling service that’ll keep you in touch with your family and friends while traveling. WhatsApp features end-to-end encryption to keep your information safe and also supports video calling. WhatsApp is my favorite way to keep conversations going while traveling. You can download WhatsApp here.
If you don’t speak the native language in the area you’re traveling; Google Translate is what you need. With Google Translate you talk or type into your phone, and then you’ll receive the translation as either text or audio. Google Translate offers more than 90 languages to choose from. Here are the Google Play and Apple App Store links.
TripIt organizes all of your travel plans in one place. My favorite feature of TripIt is that you can share your travel plans with those you’re traveling with! No more asking “what time do you land and what hotel are you staying at?” All of that information will be available in the app. All you have to do is forward your confirmation emails to firstname.lastname@example.org from your registered email address! TripIt will also let you know when to check-in and when to leave home for the airport based on flight status and traffic conditions. There is both a free and paid version of TripIt, click here to see the differences.
Skiplagged searches for fares in a controversial manner that’s different than most search engines. In fact, United sued Skiplagged over the concept. Skiplagged capitalizes on hidden city ticketing, where you book a flight with a connection but never take the second or sometimes third leg. There are disadvantages such as not being able to check a bag when traveling, as your bag’s always checked to your final destination. Also, since you’re skipping legs booking roundtrip isn’t possible. There are risks associated with utilizing hidden city ticketing (see disclaimer below) but many find it worth the risk. Click here to check out Skiplagged.
Disclaimer: Hidden city ticketing is strictly against the contract of carriage of many airlines, and your account may be subject to confiscation.
Momondo is my favorite online travel agency (OTA). Momondo searches 700+ travel sites to find you the best possible deal on airfare and hotels. You don’t book your travel directly from Momondo; rather they transfer you to the website hosting the deal. Unfortunately, Momondo isn’t the best when searching a range of dates; I recommend scouring Google Flights for the cheapest dates for your trip. After finding the cheapest date via Google Flights plug the dates into Momondo to find the best deal. Google Flights and Momondo compliment each other well, but I find Momondo more reasonable most of the time.
Sidekix is a location-based app that displays the highest rated places around you. My favorite feature of Sidekix is that you can add interests to your travel route such as stopping at a grocery store on the way to the lake. Here’s how to get started.
Scott’s Cheap Flights
Scott and his team search for the best international flight deals and then email them to you. Past emails I’ve received include New York to Paris for $260 round trip and Los Angeles to Munich for $336. Scott’s Cheap Flights offers both a free and paid version, the free version is great, but the paid version offers additional features such as email alerts thirty minutes before free subscribers, preferred departure airports, and 66% more deals than free subscribers. The paid version is a great deal at just $39 per year.
The Bald Thoughts
Choosing apps that improve your trip can be just as difficult as deciding which United States airline is the worst. Using this list of essential websites and travel apps for frequent flyers has made both my bookings and travel more enjoyable. I hope they can do the same for you.
What’s on your list of essential travel apps?