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Plan your next vacation with these handy apps



A woman sits at a table with maps, photos and a travelogue and uses her phone to check airline tickets.
BublikHaus/Shutterstock

The world is slowly starting to open up and that means travel is finally on the horizon. These apps help you find the best flights, accommodations, and things to do on your next trip.

Even if you stop traveling for several months, international travel should be planned well in advance. This ensures that you have access to the best flights and lowest prices for hotels. Scheduling early also gives you the flexibility to wait to book something until a better deal comes along, which can translate into big savings.

There are three main stages to planning a trip: booking a flight (or flights), finding the best place to stay, and deciding what to do on your vacation. We̵

7;ve rounded up the best apps in each category to help you plan an epic journey. Happy travels!

Book flights

With these apps, you can find great flight deals and book at the right time with confidence. Compare flights across multiple apps and websites to get the best deal.

Hopper

Several smartphones show features of the flight booking app Hopper.
Hopper

Hopper is an app that uses data analytics to help you find great deals on flights. They are particularly known for their ability to use past price trends to predict the best time to book your flight.

Let’s say you want to book a flight from New York to London in October. If you search for that flight now, Hopper can tell you to wait another month to book because, based on past price trends, that flight will likely be cheaper next month than it would be to book now.

Hopper isn’t always 100% accurate, of course, but reviewers seem generally pleased with the app’s ability to predict the best times to book flights. They also use the same technology for hotels and car rentals. They also offer the option to temporarily freeze prices through their booking engine to help you set a price in case the cost of a flight actually increases while you wait to book.

Download from the Apple App StoreGet it on Google Play

kayak

Two smartphones show the functions of a flight booking app called Kayak.
kayak

There are many travel companies that compare flight prices on the internet, but Kayak always seems to find the lowest prices out there. The app has a sleek design that is user-friendly and easy to navigate.

Kayak’s main selling point is its filtering options when booking flights. You can limit the number of stops in a flight, choose a time frame for takeoff and landing, and set limits on the length of your stops. The app also lets you choose which airports you want to fly through, which airlines you want to fly with, and even the type of plane you prefer.

A few other cool features of this app include flight tracking and notifications when a price drops or rises, as well as a tool that lets you virtually measure your bag to make sure it complies with an airline’s baggage policy.

Download from the Apple App StoreGet it on Google Play

momondo

A computer and two smartphones show the functions of a flight booking app called Momondo.
momondo

Momondo is owned by the same company as Kayak and shares many similar features, including the great user interface and user-friendly design. But one feature that sets Momondo apart is that it searches through countless different airlines, even the budget ones that most of the larger sites lack. They also make it easy to compare the cheapest, fastest, and most cost-effective flights for any route you’re viewing.

Since Momondo is a travel fare aggregator, you cannot book flights directly through them. However, you’re likely to find some of the best flight deals with this app, especially if you’re going in and out of smaller hubs.

Download from the Apple App StoreGet it on Google Play

Skyscanner

An ad shows the features of a flight booking app called Skyscanner.
Skyscanner

Skyscanner’s “Search Everywhere” feature allows you to find the cheapest flights around the world from an airport on specific dates, a wide date range, or even all year round. It’s great for those with some flexibility who want to choose their travel location based on the cheapest flight.

You can’t book directly with the Skyscanner app either, but they’ll give you a long list of websites to book once you’ve picked your perfect flight.

Download from the Apple App StoreGet it on Google Play

Find accommodations

Whether you want to stay at a chain of hotels or rent a small cabin out of town, these apps will help you find the best place to stay.

Hotwire and Priceline

Hotwire

Both of these apps allow you to book hotels like any other platform, but their main advantage is the secret deals they offer. Both Hotwire and Priceline allow you to book a hotel at a greatly discounted price (so-called “Hot Rate” hotels on Hotwire and “Express Deals” on Priceline) if you agree to any risk. You only get a good deal if you book the non-refundable hotel without knowing exactly what you’re getting.

You’re not left completely in the dark: both sites allow you to pick a general location and hotel classification that you prefer. You can also view some information about the hotel you are going to book, such as distance to various attractions, amenities, and overall guest rating. Sometimes you can even see a sample photo of the hotel, although it depends on the specific offer.

If you have a hotel in mind or specific requirements that you can’t see in advance, this feature probably isn’t for you. (You can still compare prices and book hotels on these apps, just without the noticeably low deals.) However, if you’re flexible with where you stay, Hotwire and Priceline can save you some serious money.

Download Hotwire here:

Download from the Apple App StoreGet it on Google Play

Download Priceline here:

Download from the Apple App StoreGet it on Google Play

Booking.com

A map of different hotels and a sidebar with additional hotel information.
Booking.com

This app (named after the website) compares lodging options better than any other platform. Major hotel chains are included in their searches, as with other booking platforms, but Booking.com also includes local boutiques, mom-and-pop bed and breakfasts, hostels, apartment rentals, and every other option available to book online.

Each property has many photos and reviews from previous guests so you can get a good idea of ​​what to expect before you visit. They also have plenty of filters to work with, including specific accessibility options like visual aids or auditory guidance.

Download from the Apple App StoreGet it on Google Play

Airbnb and VRBO

Three smartphones show the features of the VRBO app.
VRBO

Both of these apps allow you to rent a private home (usually an apartment or house). Airbnb’s app is slightly more user-friendly than VRBO’s due to its clean design and easily accessible filters.

Airbnb has more rentals worldwide, but VRBO is gaining popularity and has a decent share as well. Airbnb also allows hosts to rent out private rooms, while VRBO is specific to entire apartments and houses. It’s a good idea to check both sites to find your ideal location.

Download Airbnb here:

Download from the Apple App StoreGet it on Google Play

Download VRBO here:

Download from the Apple App StoreGet it on Google Play

Plan what to see and do

Have an idea of ​​what you want to do on your trip, but need more information? Or are you completely lost and do you need help putting together your itinerary? These apps will help you every step of the way, no matter how much help you need.

TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor is one of the longest-running travel sites out there, meaning it’s chock-full of information about just about every location in the world. Just use their “Things to Do” feature for each city and you’ll find a list of rated attractions, buildings, parks and much more.

Reading reviews from previous travelers can certainly be helpful, but take any opinion with a grain of salt. Just because user 12743 had a terrible time at the Eiffel Tower for being too tall doesn’t mean you should skip it.

TripAdvisor also attracts the best tour companies and even smaller local businesses that larger sites may miss. On their travel forums, you can ask the TripAdvisor community general travel questions, or specific questions about a particular location, tour, restaurant, or hotel.

Download from the Apple App StoreGet it on Google Play

Guides by Lonely Planet

lonely planet

The Lonely Planet app, built by the same company known for physical travel guides, lets you download guides for more than 8,000 cities around the world that are full of information about what to do and see while you’re there. .

Lonely Planet’s guides are usually aimed at budget travelers when it comes to recommending hotels and restaurants, but they often include splurge-worthy options as well. Each guide includes an interactive map and 360-degree virtual tours of popular area attractions.

Maps can be downloaded for offline use and some guides contain phrasebooks in the local language that can also be used offline. You can download the app for free, but you’ll need to subscribe to one of Lonely Planet’s plans to get full access to the guides.

Download from the Apple App StoreGet it on Google Play

culture trip

A photo of a beach and a map of Los Angeles with the caption
culture trip

Culture Trip is a modern app full of concise articles that share everything from top destinations in a country to bars and restaurants that are only for locals. It is easy to browse the information and you will have dozens of new ideas after browsing a few articles.

Each article also includes a map feature, so it’s easy to create a visual layout of what you want to do. You’ll mainly find information about popular destinations such as Los Angeles, Paris and Sydney, although articles about smaller cities are increasingly appearing.

Culture Trip also has its own tour company with experiences around the world, which you can book directly through the app.

Download from the Apple App StoreGet it on Google Play

Viator

Photo of a Greek statue and information about a Greek mythology tour in Athens.
Viator

Viator is the king of tour booking. It’s great if you have an experience in mind and want to book through their easy-to-use platform, but it’s also a good app to see if you want ideas for what to do on your trip. You can use their website, or you can download their app below.

You will always find some kind of city walking tour, which is a great way to see a new place on your first day there. You can also discover more unique experiences such as swimming with manta rays in Hawaii, making sushi lessons in Tokyo, or taking a hot air balloon ride in Marrakech.

Download from the Apple App StoreGet it on Google Play

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