Between booking flights, getting to the airport and figuring out where to stay, sometimes we all need a little help to make our vacation more fun and less stressful, especially during holiday season. Whether you’re headed home for the holidays or exploring a new city, we want to make sure you enjoy your vacation as much as possible. Here are our recommendations for the best travel apps and tips to make your vacation as easy as pumpkin pie, so that you find yourself with an abundance of holiday spirit when you finally get to where you’re going!
Know when to pounce
First things first, you have to find a flight, right? Hopper is an app that lets you set up alerts when flight prices go up and down. If your dates are somewhat flexible, you can also make use of their relatively new feature Flex Watch to find even lower rates. If your travel plans are especially flexible, you can even set up an alert for a region, state or country, so that you’ll be ready to buy as soon as that perfect flight rolls along.
Explore the magic of the layover
By finding “hidden cities,” Skiplagged offers flights so cheap, they were actually sued by United (they won.) It works by searching flights with layovers at your destination. For example, if you want to fly from Los Angeles to Chicago, there may be a cheaper flight from Los Angeles to Boston with a layover in Chicago. You buy the cheaper ticket and then skip the connecting flight. Genius, right? The only downside is that you can’t check luggage (because it would end up at the flight’s final destination—yikes) and only one-way fare.
While we’re on the topic of layovers, let’s talk about stopover flights for a moment. Did you know that if you’re traveling abroad, certain airlines will let you extend your layover for free or a very small fee? It’s like two vacations in one! Icelandair offers up to seven days in Reykjavík with a local guide to show you around at no additional cost. Finnair will give you up to five nights in Helsinki and Emirates offers four days in Dubai. Here’s a full list of airlines that have stopover programs for your next holiday twofer.
Skip the line
You know that feeling of intense jealousy when you’re waiting in the airport security line and people just breeze past to pre-check without even taking off their shoes? Get ready to be on the other side. Those Fast Pass people are probably members of the Global Entry program or TSA Pre-Check. To join, fill out an application online and book an interview. The Global Entry application fee is $100, the TSA Pre-Check fee is $85 and they both last for five years. Check out this handy guide to know which one’s right for you. The best part? If you buy airline tickets for you and your family, partner, or friend, you all get pre-check. That’s right, YOU get pre-check and YOU get pre-check!
Park with Pavemint at LAX
If you’re flying out of LAX, you’re definitely going to want to park with Pavemint. Trust us. You can check out all of the options by visiting the LAX section in the neighborhoods tab in the app, from just the basics to a valet that brings your car right to your gate. Use coupon code: FLYAWAY on the app for $100 worth of parking at LAX on us for your next trip. You’re welcome!
Car rentals of the future
If you have to rent a car during your trip, there are a few travel apps to make that way easier. Maven is like Zipcar of the future. Use your phone to book, find, unlock and start the car. With cars available in 11 major cities in the U.S. and prices as low as $8/hour with fuel included, it’s hard to imagine anything better.
Unless of course, you use Turo, a car rental app just like Airbnb, but for cars. Rent your car directly from the owner in over 4,700 cities across the US, Canada, and the UK with car rental rates up to 35% cheaper than traditional agencies. If you love the sharing economy as much as we do, then Turo is probably for you.
Travel like a local
If you’re headed to a new city, there are travel apps to give you expert recommendations on where to go, what to eat, and how to spend your time. Cool Cousin is an app that gives you personalized city guides from locals. Browse the guides and pick the local who seems the coolest to see their favorite spots for nightlife, culture, coffee, food, outdoors, shopping and activities.
Localeur is a sort of microblogging app where locals share their favorite things to do depending on the situation. Find featured events, food recommendations, the best museums and more, depending on the city.
Google Maps may show you the most efficient route from point A to point B, but the app Sidekix will show you the most interesting route. Plug in your destination or browse the neighborhood to discover hidden gems just around the corner.
Hack the hotel game
Hotels and Airbnbs can get expensive while you’re traveling. To find the best deals on hotels, try Roomer, a marketplace where people buy and sell hotel reservations. When plans change and people can’t get a refund on their hotel reservation, they can post it to Roomer, where you can scoop it up at a fraction of the price.
If you’re on a trip and just want a quick place to shower, nap or work during the day, you can book a heavily discounted room using the app Dayuse. The best part is you also have full access to all the hotel’s facilities. Here’s to hoping they have a sauna!