10 Money-Saving Travel Apps to Help Plan Your Next Family Vacation

written by Tanni Haas, PhD

Traveling can be very expensive, especially if you have a large family. Thankfully, there are many apps that can save you tons of money, whether you’re planning a fancy vacation abroad or a more modest road trip. Most people know about apps for Airbnb, TripAdvisor, and Uber. But there are many other great travel apps. Here’s a list of some of the very best ones. They’re all free, so download them before your next trip.   


Airhelp 
(Available on Apple Appstore; Google Play)
When traveling by plane, we all hope that the flight will depart and arrive on time, and with all our luggage onboard and intact. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. AirHelp will alert you if you’re eligible for compensation when your flight is delayed, overbooked, or cancelled, and if your luggage is damaged, lost, or stolen. All you have to do is to scan your boarding pass. You can expect to receive up to $450 in compensation per person. www.airhelp.com


BestParking 
(Available on Apple Appstore; Google Play) 
Road trips can be great fun but not when you can’t find a convenient and inexpensive place to park the car. Bestparking helps you find the right spot wherever you travel throughout North America. Indicate where you’d like to park and for how long, and the app generates a list of available spots and rates for the nearest lots and garages. You can search by address, landmarks or sites, or by neighborhood.  www.bestparking.com


Dayuse 
(Available on Apple Appstore; Google Play) 
Sometimes, after a long flight or trip in the car, you need a place to rest or regroup for a few hours. When that happens, Dayuse comes in handy. This app lets you search, book and pay for hotel rooms for short stays. The cost can be up to 75% less than if you’d reserved a regular hotel room for the night. The app is available in Asia, Europe and North America. www.dayuse.com


GasBuddy 
(Available on Apple Appstore; Google Play) 
On a road trip, you don’t just need convenient and inexpensive places to park the car: you also need lots of gas. GasBuddy helps you find the cheapest gas at the nearest gas station. You can search in advance or as you’re driving. The app has a gas estimator, which calculates how much gas you need based on the car you’re driving and the distance you’re traveling. www.gasbuddy.com/App


HotelTonight 
(Available on Apple Appstore; Google Play) 
If you’re a planner and like to organize everything in advance, then HotelTonight isn’t for you. But if you’re going on a last-minute trip, or if you don’t mind being spontaneous and reserving a hotel room once you get to your destination, this app can save you money. It lets you search nearby hotels and find the best last-minute deals. It includes ratings, reviews, and photos from other travelers so you can see what to expect. It’s available in Asia, Europe, and North America. www.hoteltonight.com


Rome2rio 
(Available on Apple Appstore; Google Play)
Whether you’re planning a domestic trip or a vacation abroad, there will be times when you can get to your destination in different ways. Rome2rio lets you compare different modes of transportation (bus, car, ferry, flight, train) and find the fastest and most inexpensive solution. All you have to do is to enter your location and ultimate destination, and the app will generate and compare all travel options. This app is available worldwide.   www.rome2rio.com/about/rome2rio-app/


Transit 
(Available on Apple Appstore; Google Play)
If you want to save even more money on transportation costs, consider using public transportation whenever possible. For that, download Transit. This app saves you both money and time by letting you pull together departure times for all nearby buses and trains so you don’t have to look through individual schedules one at a time. Enter your desired destination, and the app displays all public transportation options as well as fares.  www.transitapp.com


Turo 
(Available on Apple Appstore; Google Play)
If you need a car but don’t feel like renting one from one of the many, well-known car rental companies, consider getting one from Turo. Much like Airbnb for accommodation, this is a peer-to-peer car rental app, which lets you rent cars directly from other car owners. You can expect to pay about 35% less than if you rented a car from a commercial rental company. The app is available in Europe and North America. www.turo.com


WiFi Finder 
(Available on Apple Appstore; Google Play)
Whether you’re traveling at home or abroad, using your cell phone when WiFi isn’t available can be very expensive, with high roaming charges. Get Wifi Finder. This app helps you find free Wifi all across Asia, Europe, North America, and South America.  Even if you’re not being charged extra for roaming on your phone, this app comes in handy – it helps you find places where you can use your tablet or laptop computer free of charge.  


XE Currency 
(Available on Apple Appstore; Google Play)
To make your vacation as inexpensive as possible, you need to know the foreign exchange rate. The more foreign currency your get for your dollars, the cheaper the place is for you. XE Currency helps you find affordable destinations by displaying the foreign exchange rate in real-time. You can monitor up to 10 different currencies simultaneously, which is especially useful if you’re visiting multiple countries. www.xe.com/apps


Tanni Haas, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Communication Arts, Sciences, and Disorders at the City University of New York – Brooklyn College.

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