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9 Travel Apps to Save You Time and Money

Keep these essential planning and booking tools in your pocket for smoother, cheaper travel.

U.S. News & World Report

9 Travel Apps to Save You Time and Money

Businesswoman using smart phone in hotel lobby

Utilize these apps to quickly find a ride from the airport and book the best deal on a hotel room.(Getty Images)

With a rising number of savvy apps to take the pain out of vacation planning, it's never been easier to map our trips. You can compare and book flights and hotel rooms, sync your vacation with family and friends and slash costs on the ground – all in a few swift swipes on your smartphone. And that's just the start. With the right apps, utilizing navigation tools, creating and sharing itineraries and signing up for price alerts is a cinch. So, if you're looking to maximize savings and comfort on your next trip, don't leave home without downloading these nine free must-have travel apps.

WorldMate

If you want to keep all your trip itinerary details in one easily accessible place, tap into WorldMate, a free app that coordinates everything (from hotel and car rental confirmations to flight status updates) in one user-friendly interface. Plus, if you upgrade to WorldMate Gold (for $9.99 a year), you can take advantage of perks, such as automatic notifications if your hotel rate drops and synchronization with your personal and professional calendars, so you can keep track of your colleague's flights on work trips. According to Jen Leo, who writes the nationally syndicated Web Buzz column for the Los Angeles Times, WorldMate Gold is a need-to-have app. "If there are two kinds of people in this world, it's TripIt or WorldMate for your travel itineraries. They are both terrific, but I lean towards WorldMate for my tastes," she says.

Compatibility: Android, iPhone (iOS 7 or later required)

Hopper

By sifting through flight prices daily to find the times when rates decrease, Hopper pinpoints when you should purchase your tickets to score the best deal. And though the concept of analyzing historical pricing data to forecast when fares fluctuate is nothing novel, the hook for Hopper is that you can save a staggering 40 percent on your flight by using its platform. Plus, if you're only looking to comparison shop, you can sign up for fare alerts to get notified when a cheap fare pops up. Another bonus: If you plug in your payment and passenger details ahead of time, you can book your flight within a minute upon receiving a deal alert.

Compatibility: Android, iPhone (iOS 8 or later required)

Hotel Tonight

When it comes to securing a place to lay your head at the last-minute, it's hard to beat Hotel Tonight's easy-to-navigate app. To take the legwork out of selecting a room that fits your needs and budget, the app bring you a curated selection of lodging options that match your desired amenities, location and style. And not only does the app help procrastinators painlessly secure a hotel room on the fly, it oftentimes showcases reduced rates for last-minute bookings. Plus, the app has a tracking feature to notify users if the daily room rates change up to a week before your selected date range, so you can ensure you land the best price.

Compatibility: Android, iPhone (iOS 7 or later required)

Hitlist

"HotelTonight is still great for hotels, but I've also added Hitlist to my arsenal for researching cheap flights," Leo says. "They'll offer your travel destination inspiration and find you the deals to get there. Search for current travel or keep a bucket list, and they'll send you deals when they come up," she adds. So after you punch in where you want to go, Hitlist's technology combs the Web then notifies you when you when rates drop to your desired destination. Best of all, when a deal pops up and you're ready to purchase your flight, the app directs you to its price provider, Skyscanner, so you can lock in your trip instantly.

Compatibility: Android, iPhone (iOS 8 or later required)

Airportrs

"Sometimes ground transportation costs can catch you off guard," Leo says. "Don't miss the new Airportrs app that gives you your transportation options at 60 airports around the world," she advises, adding that the technology is user-friendly. And though the app is still new, here's the beauty of the technology: You can skip the often arduous process of navigating your way out of a crowded airport terminal (and taxi line) to find the most direct and cost-effective route to your final destination.

Compatibility: iPhone (iOS 8 or later required)

Waze

Regardless of whether you're planning a short or long road trip, carrying Waze can prevent you from sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The app offers real-time traffic and navigation alerts that are crowdsourced from other users, so you can receive up-the-minute road closures and disruptions to help you dodge accidents and get to your final destination painlessly. What's more, the app helps you pinpoint the most affordable gas station on your route, keeping you and your wallet content on the road.

Compatibility: Android, iPhone (iOS 7 or later required)

Transit App

If you're traveling without a car, consider the Transit App your trusted ally throughout your commute from point A to B. The app showcases all transportation choices – from public transit to Uber to bike-sharing services to Car2Go options – without requiring you to lift (or tap) a finger on your touchscreen. You can easily track scheduled times for all buses and subways available for your desired route in destinations across North America and Europe. Plus, you can view itineraries without being connected to the Internet.

Compatibility: Android, iPhone (iOS 7 or later required)

Localeur

To pinpoint local haunts on your next trip, Localeur is your go-to resource, Leo says. "Localeur has been around a little while, but I'm shocked at how many people don't know about it. It's fantastic for finding hip, on-trend restaurants, boutiques and things to do in big and medium-sized cities in the U.S." The app allows users to immerse themselves in their destination by utilizing insider tips from residents on the can't-miss places and hot spots. Plus, the recommendations are split by interest, so you can find like-minded locals who share your travel tastes and preferences.

Compatibility: Android, iPhone (iOS 7 or later required)

RelayRides

From picking up wheels at the airport for a quick weekend getaway to securing an affordable long-term car rental, RelayRides offers a reliable resource for getting a cheap car while on the go. After you enter your travel dates and your pick-up time, you'll be matched with a car that best suits your criteria. Once the car owner accepts your rental request, you'll set up a time to receive your vehicle (the car-sharing service is available at more than 300 airports and over 1,900 city locations). Best of all, you can request that the driver deliver the vehicle to your door, making the process smooth and seamless.

Compatibility: Android, iPhone (iOS 8 or later required)

Tags: travel

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