8 Free Travel Sites and Apps for Planning Your Next Vacation
Even once you have a destination in mind, the logistics of figuring out how to plan your trip can be a little stressful, right? There’s a lot of grunt work in figuring out how to make everything happen. You’ve got to book your flights, figure out where to stay, determine if you need additional modes of transportation, and find cool sites to see and places to eat. On top of all of that are that pesky thoughts that pop up while planning: Am I getting the best deal? Should I be checking out something else? Luckily, there are many apps to help us with all of the above! We’ve compiled our favorites to help you research or plan your next trip.
1. Hopper: This is a must-have app for getting the best flight deals. Basically, Hopper allows you to set alerts for destinations and will notify you when prices on flights change. You can pick specific travel dates or check out its heat mapped calendar view to find cheaper travel. Thanks to its prediction algorithm, Hopper will also tell you to “Wait” or “Buy Now” depending on how prices are likely to change in the near future.
This app is a great option if you’re looking for price breaks on hotels. Just type in your destination (it’s not in all cities right now) and check out an assortment of popular local hotels at awesome rates. One thing to note: There’s a timing factor that you need to be mindful of when using the app. It can give you hotel deals about 100 days out from the present date. So it’s best to start using the app about four months before your trip, then just keep watching it until you find a deal that works for you!
As you probably guessed from the name, Roadtrippers is a great site (and app!) to use when planning out a road trip. The interface has a really visual focus, making destination-to-destination mapping super-easy. Plus, you can tell the map to pinpoint things like accommodations, attractions, points of interest, or vacation rentals, and it will map them along with your route. Pretty cool!
This website is a hidden gem with some great travel deals. Just the other day, we saw a $400 RT flight to Paris! The best way to use it is to set alerts on places you’re interested in traveling to. Then just sit back, relax, and review your daily email of travel deals based on your selected destinations. You’ll get a price point, along with details on how the flight was found, including the airline, search details, and dates available.
Now that you’ve got the cities you want to visit, head to Airbnb to find a place to stay. It’s a great option if you’re looking for something unique and don’t want to go the hotel route. What even frequent bookers might not know is that you can also find unique things to do while you’re traveling. Just check out the “Experiences” section, where you can find classes, workshops, tours, hikes, and more!
This one is probably a given, but if you’ve never used Kayak, it’s a travel deal site where you can not only book flights but also find awesome car rentals and hotel deals. The big plus to it is that it’s connected to Booking.com and Priceline, so you really feel like you’re getting the best deal without having to shop around.
This is a great resource when you need a boost in confidence before booking a hotel, since you can’t always go off of hotel ratings. It’s the worst when you’re staying at what should be a nice place, only to find out that the walls are thin and you’re stuck with noisy neighbors. Reviewing guest comments and feedback ahead of time is super-important: You’ll not only be able to get an idea of what your experience will be like, but you can find all kinds of helpful tips from other guests as well.
I know, I know, we’re giving you a lot of travel deal sites, but there’s no such thing as too many resources when you’re trying to find the best fares. What we love most about CheapAir is its simple interface and Flexible Dates feature. Results show up as a simple scroll that shows final price, valid travel dates for that price, and which airline you’ll be on. Plus, if you’re planning a trip in advance, another nice feature is their When to Buy Flights page, which shows you how many days in advance you should buy a ticket to ensure the best fare.