The calendar says it doesn’t start until late June, but everyone knows that summer officially kicks off on Memorial Day Weekend. Whether it’s planes, trains or automobiles, everyone’s getting the hell out of Dodge. Here are a few sites/suggestions/apps to make your travel/vacation planning easier, some known and some waiting to be discovered, for those skeptics among you who don’t believe that there’s anything new under the sun…
Strictly for the 18-35s, Contiki is great for group travel on the cheap, and you don’t have to be a group – they’ll include you in one.
Jetaport is the simplest way to plan and book group travel. By combining an Expedia-powered flight and hotel search with group collaboration tools (shareable itineraries, booking status alerts, etc), Jetaport has established itself as a “One-stop” solution for group travel planning needs. For the largest of groups, Jetaport works directly with accommodation providers, achieving savings up to 50% off advertised prices. Finally, there is a better way to plan your trips!
GateGuru is the first door-to-door solution for a traveler on their day-of travel. It keeps you informed about gate changes and delays, and also has maps of terminals, reviews of restaurants, and even average wait times at security checkpoints.
SeatGuru is handy because, let’s face it, not all seats were created equal. The cabins are color coded with yellow, green, and red seats to show which seats are most welcoming. The will also show other info such as limited recline, shared entertainment, and bulkhead seating. Find your airline, the plane you’ll be flying and then choose your seat.
FlightCard is your boarding pass, reinvented. Just search for your flight by number or route, track it and share its status with your family and friends.
FlyRight app. Just as not all seats are created equal, neither are all flights, or flying experiences, the same. FlyRight is the world’s first real-time customer service app that uses the social web to empower you with a stronger voice as it enables airlines to improve service. You may never have to use it, but good to know that it’s there, just in case.
Airbnb is fine if you want to find an unusual/affordable place to stay, or rent out your place while you’re gone. Unless you live in NYC, in which case, proceed with caution. You may face heavy fines. It lists accommodations in 192 countries, but what if you didn’t quite plan ahead? That’s when you turn to…
HotelTonight for last-minute deals on unsold rooms, with discounts up to 70%. You book the deals easily and securely on your smartphone. Available for iPhone and Android.
Eat With Us is a global community that invites people to dine in homes around the world. Guests can connect with amazing hosts, share stories and unforgettable experiences, and enjoy delicious homemade cuisine. Let’s face it: when you’re traveling, you don’t necessarily want to eat out every meal, and what better way to meet the locals and experience their cuisine?
XE Currency Converter is great for world travelers. The app feature live rates for your iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, or Windows device. That’s all 180+ world currencies that you can convert on the go for FREE!
For tracking your travel expenses, there’s TrailWallet for the iPhone, and TravelPocket for iPhone or Android. Both also let you track your expenses in your native and/or local currency, and support multiple currencies, for world travelers, road warriors or people who otherwise cover a lot of ground.
Google Translate instantly translates between over 50 languages. Available for multiple mobile platforms.
WhatsApp allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. It’s available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia and it’s cross-platform, so those phones can all message each other – without additional costs. For families and those traveling in groups, WhatsApp lets you create groups, and send each other unlimited images, video and audio media messages. Nice! You might not want to leave home without it – and it comes in handy close to home, too.
Trapster helps you navigate the roads on your trips. It’s not your parents’ mapquest: think of trapster as a community-based high-tech warning system that lets you know about speed traps, traffic accidents/delays, red lights and speed cameras, road hazards, and much more! With over 5 MILLION traps reported worldwide, you are given instant access to the most accurate and up to date road conditions so that you know what lies ahead, and don’t regret the road not taken. Available on multiple platforms. Waze is an alternate way to go (pun intended), available for iPhone and Android.
AroundMe allows you to search for the nearest restaurants, banks, gas stations, book an hotel or find a movie schedule nearby. Available in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese and Chinese – and iOS.
Foursquare, and would any travel list from a NY-based site be complete without mentioning New York’s own fair-haired app? When you’re looking for inspiration for what to do next, the old standby is there to give you personalized recommendations and deals based on where you, your friends, and people with tastes similar to yours have been, whether you’re traveling the world, or looking for something new, closer to home.
If you have any suggestions for sites/apps you’ve used, feel free to share – and safe travels!