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Last-minute trips are becoming more and more common these days due to last-minute award availability and the proliferation of apps designed specifically to help travelers make bookings in a hurry. Helping with everything from day-of hotel bookings to last-minute flight changes, replacing heavy guidebooks and foreign-language dictionaries, or simply providing on-the-ground local expertise…whatever your interest or need, there’s an app for that. With that in mind, here are some of the best travel apps to use in 2014 (and I’ve tried to include some new ones I haven’t discussed at length before like Uber, since there are plenty of great apps out there!).
1. TripIt: Before you arrive at your destination, you may have several flights, trains, taxis, hotel reservations, rental cars and more to deal with first. TripIt organizes all your documents so you have everything in one place. You can even get all your reservations automatically sent to TripIt, this way you can see travel confirmations, itineraries, tickets, hotel bookings, rental car reservations, and even driving directions all in one easy view. Another key point about this app is that it is simple to share trip plans with those picking you up from the airport or train station, or anyone that may need to coordinate with you or know your travel plans. There is a free version, and the Pro version for $49 a year, which also includes extra perks like Hertz #1 Gold status. Available for Android and iPhone, free.
2. FlightAware: The FlightAware app allows you to track flights online, see a live map of the flight moving and check on delays, cancellations, and gate changes. Available on Android and iPhone, free.
3. Kayak: This well known travel website also offers an app – among the most popular travel apps available – which allows you to book flights and hotels easily. The app compares hundreds of travel sites in order to find you the best rates. Available for Android, iPhone, Windows Phone 7, and Kindle devices, free.
4. Hotel Tonight: One of the most popular travel apps out there, Hotel Tonight allows users to make same-day reservations as early as 9:00am, and links up to properties all over the world. Studies have shown that more and more hotel bookings are taking place via apps, and that of those, the vast majority are at the last minute, so Hotel Tonight is in the right place at the right time. So far, you can book hotels in 12 countries and 150 destinations, and they are continuing to increase this. Available on Android and iPhone, free. Check out our review of the app and the booking process here.
5. HopStop: HopStop is an app that gives you public transportation options like metros, buses, maps, and even biking and walking directions too – saving you the trouble of figuring out the subway system or the expense of having to hail taxies everywhere. Maps and directions are available in cities throughout Europe and the US. They also list real time updates, like accidents, construction or any other incident that may disrupt your travel time. Available for iPhone, free.
6. Hailo: Chances are, at some point during your trip, you may need a taxi, whether it be to or from the airport or elsewhere. Hailo is an app that uses GPS so that the cabs come to you. It’s very user friendy, just tap the big ‘pick me up’ button and your cab will soon be en route. No phone call necessary, and this app works in 16 cities around the world including New York, London, Barcelona, Toronto and Tokyo. Available on Android and iPhone, free.
7. Trip Journal: Trip Journal makes it easy for you not only to photo-document your trip, but to share every detail with friends and family or save it in an organized way to look back on later. With Google Earth integration, Trip Journal allows friends and family to easily see your traveling routes, waypoints for visited locations, full screen photos, videos, comments and blog entries. Trip stats such as distance, time and geography traveled are also documented in real-time, which you can see through Trip Journal’s Google Earth Export. Available for iPhone, $2.99, and Android, $3.99.
8. Onavo: Groaning after receiving your roaming charges on your cell phone bill? Change all that during your next trip with Onavo. Just download the app and once installed, the amount of data required to perform everyday tasks, such as opening an email or Instagramming a photo are dramatically reduced, as will be your roaming charges at the end of the month. Available on Android and iPhone, free.
9. TravelSafe Pro: When you travel, you don’t expect to fall ill or have your passport stolen. But these things do happen, and it’s better to be prepared. TravelSafe Pro provides lists of emergency phone numbers for pretty much every country in the world you may be traveling in. It also offers embassy information, and options to add widgets to your cell phone’s home screen for local police and ambulance numbers. Available on Android, $1.35.
10. Stay.com: Stay is a an app with custom-made city guides that allow you to filter by destination, timeframe and interest. For instance, in London, the guides include 24 hours in London, London for History Buffs, London for Lovers, etc. Or you can make your own guide, or combine one of these guides with your own ideas too. For example, if you choose 24 hours in London, it will give you a map which you download so you can then view it offline so as not to use your roaming data. On the map you have all the spots pinned that they suggest for 24 hours in London. If someones mentioned a restaurant or something for you to see, you can enter in the address and pin it on the map as well. Or, search through their ideas to add more things to your map. You can create walking routes using the map with your GPS to see all the sites you’ve pinned. Available in 150 cities in Europe, Asia and the USA. Available for Android and iPhone, free.
11. mTrip: The app mTrip provides travel guides to cities all over the world. The best part is the offline maps and navigation, so you don’t have to use your data while getting around the city. So far mTrip provides guides for 28 cities and counting in the US, Asia and Europe. With mTrip, you can creates a unique and customized travel itinerary to reflect your travel interests, trip dates, geographical location, pace preference, the opening hours of attractions and ratings submitted by other travelers. Available on Android and iPhone, $5.99 per city.
12. Foodspotting: Roaming Italy and dying for the best lasagna in town? This app isn’t just your typical food reviews and restaurant finder helper. Simply type in the name of the dish you are craving, and soon you will be en route to the best restaurant in town for your chosen dish. You can even bookmark dishes you want to try at a later date or during a later trip. Available for Android and iPhone, free.
13. Google Goggles: This app is basically a Shazam for architecture. Looking up at a beautiful building and have no idea what it is? Simply open up Google Goggles and point your camera at the building and momentarily, a list of articles will come up and voilà, history about your chosen building. This also works with statues, monuments, parks, fountains, anything physical you can points your camera at, as well as barcodes or QR codes, a product, or a popular image. Goggles can also read text in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and Turkish, and translate it into other languages in case your staring at something in a foreign language. Available for Android and iPhone, free.
14. LocalEats: LocalEats helps you find the best local restaurants the USA and select international cities. Absolutely no chain restaurants via this app! You can search by Top 100 lists, price, neighborhood or cuisine to find the best local restaurants wherever you are. Restaurants cannot pay for inclusion here and all places are hand selected by the Local Eats staff. Available for Android and iPhone, $0.99.
15. Scout: (Formerly known as Goby) Scout is an app that lets you enter your personal interests that you are interested in doing or seeing during your holiday, or in the city where you live. For example, you can search for family fun, sports, hiking, arts and culture, music-whatever it is you might want to do on your trip, followed by your destination. Scout will pull in results and let you know what is happening in your destination, live events and static places you can visit. Available for iPhone, free.
16. SayHi Translate: Depending on your destination, you may need a language travel app to help you with some local phrases. Who wants to tote around a dictionary or phrase book when you can get one on your phone? 41 languages come in the standard pack, and the app is geared towards conversational speaking, rather than business talk. This app in particular has been said to be user friendly, which is always a plus. You can unlock more languages and specific dialects via in-app purchases. Available for iPhone, $2.
17. GlobeTipping: Not quite sure how much to tip when traveling internationally? GlobeTipping will advise you how to tip adequately depending on your situation in 200+ countries. It also offers a tip calculator for easy math. Available for iPhone, $0.99.
Got any other travel apps you like to use? Let us know!