I love, love, love traveling, whether it be for business or for pleasure. There’s something exciting about getting out of the normal routine and jetting off to somewhere new (or old). As an agency, the majority of our day-to-day interactions with clients, media and analysts are conducted via email or over the phone, but nothing beats the experience of meeting people in-person or attending a conference or trade-show first hand.
There are a lot of travel apps available to help keep schedules on track and hassle-free, so here are a few of the ones that I’ve found really useful when trying to book and manage my travel schedule. A lot of travel apps offer both free and paid versions, but I’ve found that for my purposes the free versions offer more than enough features.
This is the one website that I always start with when planning travel. Although Google hasn’t offered flights on the Android or iOS platforms, the desktop version provides a really useful interactive map and calendar feature that allow you to play around with combinations of dates and destinations. This is an especially great tool if you’re willing to fly from or to a different airport. The only downside with this tool is that it doesn’t yet allow you to book flights.
Hipmunk is pretty well known for its travel booking service, and its Android and iOS apps are very easy to use when booking flights and hotels. I like to browse hotels by city before I travel, but you can also use it to find hotel deals near you as a last-minute option.
The unique and useful thing about Hipmunk is that when you are ready to search for flights, you can sort the results using the ‘Agony’ filter. This feature allows you to generate itineraries with the fewest layovers and hassles up front, followed by trips that might be longer but less expensive. This is great when you need to get somewhere as quickly as possible. Hipmunk also allows you to build simple fare alerts based on your searches, so the app notifies you when a new discount or deal pops up on the flights you’re watching. The only drawback is that you can’t set a specific target price for the alert, so even minor changes result in alerts.
Kayak is one of the gold standards when it comes to comparing flights, and its simple interface is one of the best in the business. By selecting the departure and destination locations, the Kayak app will return results from several applicable airlines so you can compare prices. The app also allows you to compare hotel prices and rental cars, set simple price alerts for flights and use a flight tracker. Although you can book your flights directly through Kayak, it’s probably a good idea to check the airline’s website to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Thanks to its map feature, Trivago is a great app when looking for the right hotel in the right location. You simply type in the city, the dates and the room type, and the results will be shown on a map so you can see how far your hotel is from your client or that conference center. Search results can be filtered by price, hotel ratings or amenities such as free Wi-Fi, and, for each hotel listing, Trivago provides price comparisons from major booking companies including Priceline, Expedia, Hotels.com and Travelocity.
Your bags are packed, but now you have multiple emails floating around your inbox with confirmation numbers, flight times and a variety of other valuable information for your trip. Staying organized can now be easy. Both TripIt and TripCase help you organize all of that information in a single itinerary, so I recommend trying both to see which suits your needs. TripIt offers a neat interactive itinerary that you can easily access on your smartphone during your trip. After signing up for the service, TripIt explains how to forward your confirmation emails from airlines, hotels, car rentals, and other travel companies directly to TripIt. One thing I’ve found valuable is that you can save directions to your hotel right in your itinerary.
Like TripIt, TripCase also offers a method of keeping all of your travel information easily accessible in one place, but it differentiates itself by making it possible to arrange Uber rides from the app, and by offering a companion Apple Watch app for additional convenience. Not that I have an Apple Watch, but it sure sounds fun.