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Our Favorite Travel Apps

1. Airbnb

airbnb

Few apps have changed the travel industry in recent years as much as AirBnB. Thanks to the service, it's now easier than ever to explore the world like a local - often at lesser expense than a good hotel in the same area.

A top-notch AirBnB experience can be one of the highlights of your trip, but the non-standardized experience means not every listing will be right for the trip you're about to take. Here's a few things to keep in mind when using AirBnB:

Make sure the location is right. For example, staying in a residential neighborhood is a lot more pleasant than the roadside parks or downtowns that hotels are often found in. Just make sure that you'll have access to the sites you want to visit from the AirBnB you stay at: it may be worth it to spend a little more on an AirBnB close to your destination and save some time spent in traffic later. Because you're vising a strange area, check ahead of time to find out what services are available in the area. When I visited Charleston with my partner, we stayed in a lovely neighborhood - but soon learned that it took a long time to find a good place for breakfast. If your AirBnB doesn't offer breakfast, look for a spot ahead of time. Hopefully your host will help you get to know the area!

Communicate with your host. Some hosts organize their homes like hotels, with customer service and automated messages. Other hosts may treat you like visiting relatives in the spare bedroom. There's no one right approach as long as you have a comfortable stay in the end, but the important thing is to establish a relationship of mutual respect right away. Reach out to your hosts and let them known your check-in and check-out times and remember to ask if you have any questions about the house rules.

Read listings carefully! Even the most picture-perfect AirBnB may not be right for you. For example, if you're allergic to animals, check to see if the host has pets.

Have a backup plan. Sometimes AirBnB hosts that have accepted your request need to cancel, even as soon as a week out from your trip. AirBnB will credit what you paid toward a different AirBnB - so just make sure your whole trip doesn't absolutely depend on staying in a certain place.  

2. Routeperfect

Route_Perfect

photo via RoutePerfect

Europe can easily be one of the most challenging travel destinations for planning a trip, because there’s just so much to do. With a visit to Europe, the quality and feel of every tour, site, and place to eat can vary. This is why it becomes really important to be able to vet places for your trip. This is where Route Perfect comes in. Narrow down your search using their selective tools and book your entire stay with the help of this easy app.

How it Works: Route Perfect allows you to customize your travels in a way that instantly makes things easier for you as a planner. Use their three criteria for trip style, budget, and travel dates to generate an itinerary and suggestions for where to stop along the way. It’s like a personalized TripAdvisor for your booking, with the benefit of mapping your travel time between destinations and the different ways you can travel using public transport or private car.

From there, you can get as detailed as you want for your trip in terms of activities. Route Perfect has a preference sidebar that allows you to click the range you fall in for small city charm, nature, food, culture, nightlife, and the list goes on. Next, you can choose what cities you are drawn to and how long you’d want to stay. It will help you alternately find hidden gems or can’t-miss spectacular sites.

Where It Excels: The hardest thing to judge as a traveler is the distance between stops.  Route Perfect solves this by calculating how to best map out your stops between two different cities while also making sure that what you end up doing will be actually appealing to you.

Who It’s For: Currently, Route Perfect only operates within Europe so you’ll have to contain yourself to using it on your European trips. Here is the list of countries you can use it on.

While this is just a taste of what Route Perfect is offering, you really need to explore inside the app to fully appreciate the customization it offers. Head over now, and while you’re at it check out their blog on a food tour of Italy from the pages of Eat, Pray, Love for some idea of just how great their pre-planned packages can be!

3. Taxilater

TaxiLater App Review

photo via TaxiLater

Uber has become a staple to many of today’s travelers, but for someone who wants to reserve a ride, there’s one major roadblock: you can’t book Uber in advance. So what’s a traveler to do when you are tight on time or are in an area that has slim pickings for drivers? Download TaxiLater, an app extension for Uber, allowing you to pre-book an Uber so you never have to wait till the last minute again.

Who It Is For

If your one wish from Uber was the convenience of having a car waiting out front the moment you leave, this extension ensures it. It’s great for business travelers who have to work around a structured travel schedule and flyers trying to book a ride to the airport in advance, not to mention anyone who would rather not wait for a ride when they decide to pick up and leave for the next destination.

How TaxiLater Works

Download the app on your phone! When you are pre-booking an Uber, head into the TaxiLater app, log-in with your Uber account information , select the time, location, and car type to have your full booking to be registered.

The Fine Print

The app currently only works for Uber, and is exclusive to iOS users, so you are out of luck if you don’t use apple. In terms of user experience, the one downside to TaxiLater is that a driver must accept your request in order for your reservation to move forward. Lastly, you will want to be on the lookout for notifications from TaxiLater as they will notify you when Uber surge pricing is in place, and require your approval to move forward with the booking.

Ready to Ride?

Uber has provided you with an awesome way to have more control over spending when a car is a necessity in your travel itinerary. Ultiamtely though, TaxiLater manages to up the ante, allowing you to get some of the conveniences that you desire from other car services. It’s just another reason to love where tech is headed in terms of changing your travel experience!

4. Uber

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photo via Uber

Uber has had a rapid rise to fame, drawing city-dwellers and suburbanites alike for its location-specific drivers and cheap fares. For those who haven't been on the lookout recently, Uber has instated a new ride-sharing option, UberPool, that makes it easier than ever for you to get around town. Find out how best to use this and other new features in this Uber update.

UberPool

This ride-sharing option will give you an even cheaper option for getting around town while having a chance to interact with locals. Not only will your driver likely be from the area, but you’ll have plenty of time to pick the brains of your co-passengers about their favorite places to sight-see, eat, and grab drink.

How To Use It: Request UberPool pick-up and drop a pin like you normally would! Uber will send you your co-rider’s name before the car arrives if you are joining another rider. Since UberPool is in beta mode you may not be granted this pick-up option in every area or city. However, when it is an option it’s worth it, since you’ll be charged a discount whether ride sharers join your UberPool or not. Just make sure you aren’t in a rush as you will need to leave space in your travel time to pick up riders along the way.

Airport Pick-Ups

In case you didn’t hear yet about this long-awaited tidbit, Uber now can do airport pick-ups. Whereas before you could only take an Uber to be dropped of for your flight, many airports have now begun to allow pick-up rides. The prices Uber is offering makes it a must-use advantage. Make sure to use it for what can be your longest stretch of driving in your journey- going to and from your hotel to the airport.

How To Use It: Your Uber app will allow you to search your airport in its database to see if your location offers Uber transport services. Once you are able to verify this and drop a pin for pick-up, head over to the departures gate where you can and find the ride-sharing loading zone so you can easily locate your Uber. Your app will let you in on this tip too, as that is the only section of the airport currently designated for Uber drivers.

With Uber’s updated features, traveling without a car rental or even a taxi service has never looked more appealing or been more feasible. Enjoy life on the road now that you know the ins and outs of using these updated features!

5. Airgrub

Airgrub

photo via AirGrub

Let’s set the scene. You’ve got a layover for 30 minutes in Boston and those dinner time hunger pangs are quickly kicking in. Rather than try to subside on the in-flight snack, or tough it out until you land, use the AirGrub app so you can skip those long wait lines and ensure you get dinner before your next flight. Here’s how the app works to help you get your food faster and ditch the wait.

AirGrub’s genius lies in taking one of the most time-sensitive travel spaces and making sure you have access to food there. Whether you are in a cab on the way to the airport, are taxiing on the runway and have those few minutes before getting off the plane, or are stuck waiting in line for security, there is ample time to take advantage of those few minutes to pre-place your order.

Here are the FAQs that people may have on how to use the app:

How does it work?

Enter the name of your airport, or for a more accurate read of what is nearby enter your airline number. Then enter the time and date for pickup. After choosing your meal and submitting your order you can head straight to the pickup counter to the AirGrub VIP sign and show ID or boarding pass for confirmation for your order.

Can I time my pickup?

Yes, feel free to place your order well in advance as you can fill in your pickup time and have your meal still warm by the time you arrive.

Can I change my order once it’s placed?

Yes, if your flight is delayed or you have a change in appetite, you can reach out to their customer service through the app and update the order via a phone call or text.

What airports use it?

The Airgrub app is currently available in 3 airport locations: New York-JFK, Boston-BOS, San Francisco-SFO. AirGrub was only founded in 2015, so you can expect more locations soon. Their goal is to be active in every major airport nationwide. You can sign up for their updates so you know as soon as an airport is added to their locations.

Sign up for the app for free here so you never have to wait on an empty stomach, or a limited time frame again!

6. Seatguru

SeatGuru

When TripAdvisor decides to lend a hand for the flying portion of your travels, you better believe it’s worth knowing about. With their latest app and website SeatGuru, you simultaneously get seat maps with information to help you pick out the best seat in the house, as well as pivotal airline information like baggage sizing and in-flight amenities. Check out our app breakdown for the best ways to use SeatGuru.

What You Can Do

Find a good seat: Still want the best seat in economy class? SeatGuru will help you find it. Their heat map gives you the best seat based off factors like legroom, user comments, and amenities. Red seats on the heat map will be the worst pick, while green seats will be the best. You can also compare sizing from airline to airline with seat width and height.Capture

Another handy breakdown for the site is what you get in each flight class for different airlines. Their chart includes wifi connection, seat dimensions, and in-flight entertainment among other options. This is an awesome inclusion for travelers who are on the fence about upgrading for their trip.

Get a cheap flight: Besides helping you find the best seating arrangement, you can now book through the app as well, filtering through multiple sites like Expedia, Priceline, Travelocity and other popular hosts.

Learn about your airline: Perhaps one of the biggest draws, in this user’s opinion, is the ability to research the questions you are always asking yourself about the airline you’re traveling with, only now you have all the information for most of the world’s airlines in one place. Find out plane sizes, which can help you squeeze more in your under the seat bag, and sometimes your overhead carry-on. Also, learn about what each airline’s policy for children, infants, and pets are with overview tab. ordinarily, It can be challenging to research these things, especially for international airlines you are unfamiliar with. This way, you’ve got a one-stop answer for you airline questions.

User Experience

The app, for better or worse, keeps the continuity of the web page layout. So, if you are at home and doing some quick research, you may prefer to pull up the website. Otherwise, we find it a helpful app to have on hand when you are booking flights on the road, and doing your research outside the house. Our advice is grab the app for free and have all your bases covered if you have the storage space.

Successfully Seated?

If you’re choosing between two comparable flights, SeatGuru may now give you the research you need to choose between airlines based on information like seating space, which is not usually readily available. Another bonus? We know that having the benefit of confirmed sizing through the apps airline overview section will also help with your luggage purchases. Use this app to increase your travel know-how and get the answers on the little things that can make a big difference in the quality of your trip.