Snazzy lounge passes, free calls from any location, a gizmo to find your lost suitcase: the sheer number of apps and devices out there designed to make your life ‘easier’ is frankly sometimes overwhelming. But weed out the very best of them – particularly when it comes to the chaos of travel – and you might just wonder how you ever managed without.
Travel expert and founder of advice blog GodSaveThePoints has joined forces with MailOnline Travel to reveal the apps that will effortlessly streamline your next trip: from getting you deals, enabling free international calls and even nabbing the best seat on the plane.
Planning a trip
For every place you end up, there are hundreds of ways to get there.
Rome2Rio is a nifty website and app that shows you all of them, calculating the fastest and cheapest route and neatly displaying your options – planes, buses, coaches, trains, cycle routes, taxis – and their prices.
It doesn’t just show you how to get from airport A to airport B, it will find you all the connecting routes on either side, so you’ll know the best way to actually get to your hotel after you land.
Quite often, having all your options on the table like this will save you good money in the planning phase.
Cheap plane tickets
There are plenty of good price comparison websites out there for identifying the cheapest tickets, but we all know how fast the prices rise and fall.
That’s because cut-price fares all have expiration dates. So in many a case, blink and you’ll miss it.
To address this, Google Flights has just added a new feature to its comparison engine, which alerts you as to when a good deal is about to vanish, with information like ‘this fare expires tomorrow and prices are likely to rise’.
Which puts an end to the ‘shall I book now or wait’ conundrum.
Coupon codes without the hunt
This rather genius app, dubbed Honey, is an ‘extension’ for your internet browser, and it’s free.
Once installed it trawls the web quietly in the background to search for any valid promotional codes you might be able to apply for when booking a flight, hotel, car-hire – anything.
If it finds one, it will ask your permission to add the discount automatically when you pay. Why on earth would you say no?
Nab the best seat
When it comes to flying economy, not all seats are created equal.
If you want an aisle seat that’s not close to the bathrooms, for example, or a few extra inches of legroom at an emergency exit seat, you’ll be able to locate it on SeatGuru.
It also gives you information about the entertainment system and even the meals you can expect to be served.
A virtual travel folder
You’ve booked your flights, and probably your transport and connections. Sometimes rounding up all the tickets and confirmation codes in one place can be a fiddle.
Enter Tripit, an app that accumulates all these details for you and presents you with a sleek on-screen itinerary including all the information you’ll need.
All you have to do is forward your confirmation emails to the Tripit address and let it do the rest.
It also notifies you as to your departure gate, and provides directions on how to get there.
Track your flight
App In The Air integrates with Tripit to import all your flight details, and then tracks the planes and keeps you updated about their status, even if you don’t have internet coverage.
It also helps you manage your time at the airport, breaking down each flight into four stages: check in, boarding, take-off and landing time.
And just in case you care, it keeps a record of all the flights you’ve taken, airports you’ve frequented, and miles you’ve travelled.
Airports generally involve a lot of waiting around and spending money in the process.
But you don’t have to have a business or first-class ticket to take advantage of snazzy lounges that offer unlimited food and drink, free Wi-Fi, and some nice peace and quiet.
LoungeBuddy is a website which allows you to purchase one-time passes, often for the same or less than a restaurant meal outside.
Locate your lost luggage
If you’ve ever had an airline lose your bags, you will know that feeling of panicked helplessness.
For the ultra-paranoid among us, you can buy peace of mind by investing in a GPS tracker like the LugLoc. This little gizmo, placed in your suitcase, will allow you to track its exact location from your phone. So you’ll know where to find it, even if the airline doesn’t appear to.
The device costs £55 ($70), and you’ll have to pay £3.80 ($5) per month to keep the service running.
Converting currencies online is nothing new, but what if you find yourself without internet service? God forbid you turn to maths.
XE Currency’s app functions even when you are offline by saving the last updated conversion rates.
A simple solution for a problem we’ve all had.
Decode foreign signs
The Google Translate app has long been helping travellers communicate their way through a language barrier, but there’s a lesser known feature now.
Hold up your camera to any foreign text, whether that’s a sign, a newspaper or a menu, and it will instantly translate it for you.
Call anywhere in the world free
Services like Skype are all very well but they have limits. You’ll need internet, for a start, and for the other Skype user to be online.
Rebtel is an app which offers free calls to and from anywhere in the world, without using data or Wi-Fi. Instead, it finds a way to route the dialling through local phone centres.
The service currently costs nothing, but by next year will be £0.78 ($1) per month.
In a similar way to Rome2Rio, Citymapper is a journey planner, but designed more for when you arrive at your destination.
It’s much more detailed than Google Maps, giving you a range of transport options and prices at just a glance, plus real-time departures and disruption alerts – all of which makes finding your way around a foreign city a whole lot easier.
Splitting the tab
The first bill-splitting app specifically designed for travellers, Splittr simplifies the whole process of sharing costs.
You enter your individual expenses as you go, including who paid for what, and at the end of the trip, everyone knows where they stand.
It also lets you mix currencies without you having to convert them yourself, and lets you dictate who is paying the lion’s share if you aren’t splitting bills equally.