It’s peak summer, which means people are going on vacation or hastily making last-minute travel plans. Luckily, there’s a trove of tools you can use to make the most out of your trip by saving money, finding better places to stay, or by finding great things to do without breaking the bank.
Here are some of the best.
Flight search engines help by aggregating multiple airlines' flight prices based off the dates you choose.
So instead of going to your regular airliner's website and booking it directly, you can use any of these sites -- preferably all of them -- to shop around for the best deal.
Here are the sites I always check:
If you can't find the right price for your flight out, you can get notified when a flight hits historical lows. If you've planned your trip dates out months in advance, Airfare Watchdog will notify you when your fares dip.
Google Flights also does the same thing -- when you select your dates and destination, you can 'save' the flight and track it in a graph. You'll receive an email if the price dips.
How far in advance should you book? 54 days is the average, but that's not always the case. Avoid booking too much earlier, and absolutely don't book at the last minute.
Wikivoyage helps you find ways to get around, things to do, places to see, and things to eat -- even in the most obscure places.
Wikivoyage is a trove of information on how to get around and what to see. If you're looking for things to do beyond the most obvious tourist attractions, this Wiki will have plenty of suggestions on things to see, eat, and do.
When I was studying abroad in London in late 2013, CityMapper was a godsend. It was only available in two cities at the time -- London and New York City -- but now it's in 32 major international cities.
The mapping app's edge over Google Maps is that it aggregates far more information: cross county rails, subway statuses, Yelp reviews, Uber, calories burnt if you walk or bike, and costs for all that travel. That information isn't as intuitively displayed on Google Maps, nor is it as simple to access.
Renting a bike is a great way to save money and see a lot of sights in a short period of time. You can use Spinlister to rent a bike from a local in virtually any city where you can get an Airbnb.
Like a regular rental bike, you're liable for the upkeep of whatever you rent on Spinlister. But it's probably as convenient as renting from the local company, if not more.
Data charges can get ludicrious when you're roaming, which is why it's a good idea to look into your destination country's telecom providers and buy a local SIM card.
It's likely that those companies can give you a chunk of prepaid data for far less than the rates on your domestic carrier -- for instance, one carrier in the UK offers a gigabyte of data for £7.50 (just under $10 at the time of writing).
There's a convenient Wikia for this that can tell you what prepaid SIM cards are available in any country, along with data, call and texting plans. Consult it, and then have your SIM delivered to your destination before you land. Boom. Now you can use Google Maps without breaking the bank.
Google Translate is immensely handy for a couple reasons beyond the obvious. One of the better features is that you can download a language for offline use, so if you're without a data plan you're at least not without a digital interpreter.
Secondly, Google Translate can translate photos in case you're in a country with a character-based writing system. Simply take a photo, and the app will do the rest.
Instead of cherrypicking from Yelp/Foursquare reviews, forum posts, and other sources, GuidePal is unique -- the company says it vets local experts to curate interesting attractions in major cities.
So instead of, say, taking the extensive amount of time to research local attractions beyond the most obvious ones, GuidePal puts it all in one convenient place.
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