The Best Mostly-Free Apps For Travel Planning In 2017

This time of year is big business for travel industries.

People are travelling home to see their families, going on holiday or getting in one last business trip before the year ends— or they’re starting to think about planning that dream getaway in 2017.

Holiday travel can be fun and exciting, but also stressful, especially if your trip involves a complicated itinerary. Fortunately, there are a wealth of amazing travel apps out there that can simplify, streamline and augment your trip planning, both over the holidays and in 2017. Whether I’m going to India to visit family or to our Singapore office for a meeting, these are some of the travel apps that make my life a lot easier and more exciting!


Google Trips

My favorite new travel app, Google Trips, was just unveiled this year and has a lot of awesome features. You can add a trip or let the app automatically create one for you once you’ve booked a flight or a hotel in another place. Unlike some apps, which require you to email your itinerary to an external email address, Trips pulls important reservation info directly from my Gmail account. So whether it’s information about my flights, hotels, trains or even restaurant reservations, it’s all in one convenient folder.

Like many travel apps, Trips offers suggestions for nearby attractions, but it goes a few steps further to make it even easier for you. The app can automatically map out a full or half-day itinerary full of things to see and do. Plus, the content is great (and as experts in global content, we should know) instead of having to pull up my browser to research local attractions, I can read descriptions and reviews right in the app.

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Google Trips is great for traveling to places where I don’t get service on my mobile, because it can download maps, saved places and itineraries ahead of time. This way I can navigate a city or find the address of my hotel even if I don’t get a signal. Important information like nearby hospitals and insurance considerations are also included, and can be a (literal) lifesaver in the event of an emergency.

There are, of course, a few drawbacks. If you don’t use Gmail, you’ll have to add flight info manually or forward your information to a Gmail account. And it’s not always foolproof— it’s a good idea to double check to make sure all your information was added!

I’d also like to see increased collaborative tools for when you’re traveling with others; for example, if a friend booked one hotel and I booked the other, there isn’t currently an easy way for us to add both to a single itinerary. But Google is working on new features and improvements to Trips, so maybe these will be added in a future version!

Although Google Trips is a frontrunner for me, I still use multiple apps when I travel. Here are some others I find really useful:

Airbnb Trips

The massively popular Airbnb app is now offering a new service called Trips, which allows you to book tailored local immersion activities like behind-the-scenes art tours, stargazing, music workshops and volunteer experiences.

airbnb

The service is in its infancy, but is starting with more than 500 experiences spread across 12 major cities; so I might give it a try when I plan my next trip to Paris!


Hotel Tonight

Planning exciting new travel is fun, but sometimes things don’t go as expected, which is when you need a practical app like Hotel Tonight. The service is much like it sounds— it offers last-minute hotel deals that can be booked easily on your mobile.

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In addition to being a real lifesaver after you miss a flight, Hotel Tonight is also a great way to book a quick getaway if you’re feeling spontaneous!


Detour

I love to wander around a new city at my own pace, but I also want to learn about its history, culture and unique personality! Detour is a cool new content-aware app that guides you through famous landmarks while you listen to one-of-a-kind audio by expert narrators like Ken Burns or Peter Coyote. These aren’t your run-of-the-mill tours either— there are tours about notorious crimes in Austin, alternative lifestyles in San Francisco and the history of anarchism in Barcelona.

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The app is free, and each tour costs between $5 and $25. New tours are being added all the time, so be sure to check out their offerings the next time you travel!


I hope you get a chance to try out one or more of these apps, because they make travel easier and more fun! I’d love to hear about your favorite travel apps as well, so give me a shout in the comments!

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