10 Essential Apps to Help You Survive Holiday Travel
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The holidays are almost upon us, and while it’s wonderful to spend these special moments with friends and family, traveling on these peak dates can often be a nightmare of delays, crowds, lines and bad moods. In order to help you stay sane out there, TPG Contributor Lori Zaino pulled together a list of some apps that could help you survive the dreaded holiday travel experience.
There are many useful travel apps out there, but the 10 below are specifically designed to help you deal with crowded airports, heavy traffic, flight delays/cancellations and other situations that may arise during peak holiday travel, such as for Thanksgiving and Christmas. All are available for both Apple and Android devices, so download away — and put your mind at ease before your holiday vacation even begins.
1. TPG To Go
The TPG To Go app helps you maximize your credit card spend by enabling you to create a digital wallet composed of your credit cards (My Wallet), determine which of your credit cards is the right choice for each purchase (Pay With This) and ensure that you meet each card’s minimum spend (TPG Tracker). TPG To Go can especially come in handy during holiday travel when making airport, in-flight or gas purchases, or even paying for last-minute hotels and/or flights if your travel is disrupted by weather and/or flight delays. Oh, and get ready for an updated version in 2016! Download for Apple or Android here.
2. Lounge Buddy
Do you fear endless holiday flight delays at crowded airports? Lounge Buddy offers reviews, available amenities and photos of lounges at more than 800 airports around the world, and allows you to instantly purchase access to them — regardless of your elite status or fare class. As a holiday treat, Lounge Buddy is running a promotion through December 31, 2015: When you purchase access to The Club airport lounge locations in the US through December 31, you’ll receive LoungeBuddy credit for 100% of your purchase. Available in the iTunes App Store or from Google Play.
If you’ve got a complicated holiday itinerary, this app allows you to stay organized by storing all your travel reservations in one spot — no need to dig through emails. Both versions, TripIt (free) and TripIt Pro ($49 a year), allow you to forward your travel confirmation emails — for flights, lodging, rental cars, ferries, trains and more — from your inbox to the app, where they’ll be instantly organized within an itinerary that you create. The itinerary can be viewed both on and offline, and you can easily share it with your travel partners, family, pet sitters, etc. The upgraded TripIt Pro also allows you to find alternative flights, select seats and track miles/points, as well as see real-time flight alerts and notifications. Download either version of the app for Apple or Android here.
4. Hotel Tonight
If you’ve made a late-in-the-game decision to travel, are grounded by a flight delay/cancellation, are feeling too tired to keep driving another hour, etc., then Hotel Tonight can be a huge help. This hotel booking app lists last-minute prices on hotel rooms, giving you the option to book either same-day or up to seven days out. The app’s straightforward booking system is super easy — enter your desired location and dates, scroll through the list of hotel offers you’ll be shown, select one and make your reservation. Just be sure to compare rates available on other sites before you book. Also, if this is your first time using Hotel Tonight, you can get a $25 credit by using the promo code BKELLY99. Available in the iTunes App Store or from Google Play.
Although Uber is banned (or simply unwelcome) in some cities and countries, it’s really useful for traveling to/from airports during peak times when it can feel impossible to get a taxi. Simply request a ride via the app and a driver will arrive momentarily, taking you to your requested destination. No fuss or cash required, as the ride will be charged to the credit card stored in your account. Make sure to link the right credit card in order to maximize your points earnings.
For those traveling to/from NYC during the holidays, if you plan to pay a visit to the Amex Centurion Lounge after landing at New York-LaGuardia (LGA), grab a promo code that’s good for two free Uber rides — existing Uber users included! Through the end of 2015, American Express is giving Platinum Card, Business Platinum Card and Centurion cardholders a promotional code valid for travel from LGA to anywhere in New York City’s five boroughs. If you haven’t signed up for Uber, you can join here, download the app and get your first ride free (up to $15).
As the holidays loom ever closer and you find you’re running out of time to carefully pack your suitcase, don’t worry — PackPoint will do it for you. The app organizes an itemized, gender-specific packing list based on the length of your trip, the weather at your destination and any activities you have planned. If you’ll have a washer and/or dryer at your disposal during your trip, the app also allows you to select “laundry” and factor in the need to pack a little less. The app also lets you share your list with fellow travelers, so they’ll have an idea of what to pack too. Available in the iTunes App Store or from Google Play.
For those planning on driving to their holiday destinations, Waze can help you stream live traffic updates to your phone, allowing you to plan your route as safely and efficiently as possible. To passively share real-time traffic and road data with the Waze community (that is, other drivers in your area who are also using the app), simply type in your destination address and drive with the app open. Or, actively contribute by adding your own observations of blocked lanes, accidents, police traps and more, or even where you found especially cheap gas. Download for Apple and Android here.
A must-have for air travel this holiday season, this app allows users to track flights, view flight status, gate changes, delays, cancellations, connection info and more. Not only will FlightAware help you brave crowed airports and better plan your travel time, it will also enable you to keep friends and family at your destination informed of any changes to your flight. Available in the iTunes App Store or from Google Play.
The app for the popular TripAdvisor.com website helps you search for hotels, restaurants, activities and tours for your trip, as well as read crowd-sourced reviews about each. These reviews are designed to help you make informed decisions and tailor your vacation to include the best stuff and leave out anything that doesn’t seem like a good fit. Available for most smartphones and tablets, you can download the app here. (As you’ll see, TripAdvisor also owns a few other helpful travel apps: SeatGuru, which shows you aircraft layouts, seats details and other onboard info; thefork, which assists you with dinner reservations and restaurant discounts; and GateGuru, which provides you with airport info.)
If your flight has been delayed, canceled or overbooked — which frequently happens during holiday peak travel times — AirHelp will assist you in getting the compensation you deserve by allowing you to directly file a claim for your loss. If you’re unsure about your rights as a passenger, AirHelp will tell you what the airlines won’t as far as possible compensation. Its “No Win, No Fee” service means that if you don’t end up getting any money, you don’t owe AirHelp anything. Download for Apple and Android here.
For more TPG-recommended travel apps, check out these related posts:
Are there any other apps you swear by during peak travel times? Please share them with us in the comments below!