Skyscanner, available for iOS, Android
Everyday there’s a new travel article popping up claiming to know the right tricks for booking cheap flights, and it usually revolves around shopping on certain days of the week. That’s mostly bullshit because fare changes are unpredictable and based on extraordinarily complex algorithmic-based adjustments. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to bend over and take it from the airline industry. If you’re a flexible traveller, Skyscanner can show you which dates currently have the lowest fares to your destination and even the cheapest month to fly. It also has an “everywhere” destination option, which will show you the cheapest places to fly from your city at that moment, if you are willing to be spontaneous. Midweek trip to Des Moines anyone?
Bravolol, available for iOS, Android
Bravolol is basically a crash course on languages for everyone too busy to learn them. It’s a book of thirteen languages that breaks phrases down into categories based on what you’re trying to say. Want to get to buy that girl at the bar a drink? Want to try and charm her enough to get her to leave with you? Hit up “Romance”. Got pickpocketed on the street? “Emergency” has got you covered. There are others like Greetings and Eating, too. You can even record your (botched) pronunciations to compare to the tutor’s voice to help you get better. Unfortunately the app doesn’t give you a better pick up line though so you’re going to have to come up with something better than “Are you an astronaut? Cause that ass is outta this world!” on you own.
TripAdvisor, available for iOS, Android
Photo filters aren’t just for Instagram. Hotels aren’t above finding ways to make their properties look better online than they do in real life. TripAdvisor has long been the go-to place for hotel reviews, but it’s also great for seeing what rooms and surrounding areas really look like because guests can and do upload their personal photos. Travel destination pages often have reviews for restaurants and area activities, too, so you can get the full picture on what to expect. Some city pages even have travel guides and maps for downloading.
TripIt, available for iOS, Android
Without fail, confirmation emails will get buried in the wasteland known as your inbox, and if you book a lot of things over the span of several weeks, you’ll have to dig through to get them all organized at some point. TripIt lets you sync the app to your email account and set it to “Auto Import.” The app will grab up any travel confirmation numbers that land in there like magic and create itineraries for you. When you click on an event in the app, you get access to everything about your flight or the hotel you’re staying in. You can also forward your itinerary to your travel companions or people expecting your arrival.
Google Maps, available for iOS, Android
Even though you’re probably already using it in your everyday life, Google Maps is actually also the Holy Grail of travel apps, but many people don’t know about the offline feature that allows you to keep getting directions without a connection to a network. This ingenious hack is incredibly helpful if you’re driving in another country and your cell is on airplane mode because you’re trying to avoid roaming data charges. The only downside is that you can’t use it for walking or biking directions, and you won’t get live traffic updates or be able to modify the route. But, it sure beats getting lost down some random road in the French countryside right?