Our phones may be getting smaller, but the world is still a pretty big place. Whether you want to see it all, or you just need some pointers on how to effectively organize your next business trip: there’s an app for you. Flying to the Ritz in Rome? Backpacking Nepal with just one change of clothes? Driving to Grandma’s? We’ve got you covered.
The first step of locking down your travel plans is booking your transportation.
Every airline has an app these days. All of them have the same basic functions: log in, purchase tickets, see your purchases, and track your miles or rewards points. The major benefit of using an app that only services one airline is that you have your ticket with you at all times. Most major airlines have an in-app QR or barcode that you can scan at the airport to get onto your flight. That being said, having brand loyalty while traveling today is an outdated mindset. Although some of these up-and-coming travel apps are still using confirmation numbers, and making your retrieve your airline ticket at the airport, there is something to be said for having the ability to truly find the least expensive travel option.
Travelocity is an excellent option for booking flights, hotels, and even rental cars. Travelocity works by scanning major airlines’ prices using the date and location specifications you provide, then displaying a list of available flights with different price points. Not only will Travelocity almost always find you the cheapest flights, but you can book everything you need, pay for it, and receive confirmation right in the app. Additionally, Travelocity has a useful credit card scanning feature in the app to expedite the process – all you need is your credit card and you smart phone’s camera. Keep in mind that some airlines, like Southwest, do not list with Travelocity and it’s good to check those airlines’ individual flights as well. Similar to Travelocity are: Expedia, Orbitz, and Kayak.
One of the greatest new tools for booking flights is SkyScanner. SkyScanner is only an aggregator, and therefore you can’t book flights directly through the app. However, this does mean that almost every airline can be represented. SkyScanner gathers the flight prices from all of the companies listed above and more. Once you select a flight, SkyScanner will direct you to the company that’s running the offer, free of charge. The amount of money saved using SkyScanner more than makes up for the aggravation of not being able to book through their app. In addition to performing the actual search, SkyScanner’s app makes it easy to refine your results by maximum flight duration, number of stops, or preferred airline. You can add a search to your “favorites,” or choose to only view flights from airlines with mobile-optimized reservations sites. One of the most useful features is the ability to have multiple tabs open (much like a browser), so you can compare flight prices side by side.
If you’re road trippin’, there may not be much to do in the way of booking transit, unless you’re renting a car. All of the apps mentioned above also can be used for car rentals. Additionally, you could use a membership-only car rental service like ZipCar. The ZipCar app is extremely easy to use, and is perfect for those living in a metropolitan area that usually doesn’t require a car. You can sign up through the app with a few brief questions and a membership fee. After that, you tell the app what date you need the car and how long you’ll be gone, and it will provide you with a list of cars available and rental prices. You can book your rental entirely through the app, which is a huge convenience.
For train travel in the USA, there is nothing like the Amtrak app. It’s easy to see Amtrak’s schedules, purchase tickets and view your purchased trips. Amtrak even stores your purchased tickets in the app. When it’s time to board your train, you can use the easily-scanned barcode in the app instead of having to print a paper ticket. Additionally, the e-ticket system they use is compatible with Apple’s Passbook for iPhone. The app also has a complete directory of stations, each with a list of amenities. You can also view schedules, and track a train’s status.
Now that we’ve covered the bases on booking travel, make sure to check back next week to see the hottest apps for booking accommodations.
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