Summer is right around the corner. You know what that means? Vacation! Whether that means piña coladas on a beach, touring across European landmarks, or even enjoying a domestic road trip, one thing is probably at the forefront of your mind: the cost of such a vacation.
For many of us, including myself, vacations are a luxury. I personally haven’t taken a real vacation in over four years simply because I can’t afford to do so, which is why I’m psyched about the dirt-cheap week-long vacation I booked for later this year. For a few hundred dollars, you could have the same for yourself.
There are a handful of quality Android apps that proved fruitful in my quest for an affordable vacation. Is money a big concern for you? Then you should check out these apps to save as much money as you possibly can. You won’t regret it.
Skyscanner isn’t a unique tool by any stretch. It scours the web and compares flight prices from hundreds of airlines all over the world in order to determine the cheapest tickets for your intended destination. The difference here is that Skyscanner is very good at what it does.
In conjunction with these rules for finding cheap airline tickets, Skyscanner can save you hundreds of dollars.
I should make it clear that Skyscanner isn’t just about minimizing price. If you want to find extravagant flights that make you feel like a king, it can help you with that. But most people use it to save money, and that’s what I use it for, too.
Skyscanner also has two sister apps: Skyscanner Hotels for searching hotels and Skyscanner Car Rentals for renting cars. That covers the trifecta of any major vacation trip, so be sure to use them all.
Hotels are an integral component of any out-of-town vacation experience — unless you’re rich enough to own your own vacation home or fortunate enough to stay overnight at a friend’s — which is why you need Hotel Tonight.
Hotel Tonight specializes in a hassle-free hotel booking process that can save you a lot of money. They claim it only takes ten seconds to book a room, and rooms can be searched based on quality (Basic, Hip, Luxe). But best of all, Hotel Tonight gets last-minute discounts from hotels, so it’s great for last-minute trips.
It sounds too good to be true, so why not try it out and see for yourself? It really is that easy. The only downside is that you can’t plan ahead farther than seven days out.
If you really want to save money on your lodgings, skip the hotel altogether and turn to AirBnB. Built on a concept that resembles couch-surfing, AirBnB allows regular people to rent out rooms on a short-term basis, hence the name: it’s the next generation of bed-and-breakfast.
When searching for hosts, you can message them if you have any questions, but the biggest benefit is that most AirBnB hosts charge significantly less than a hotel would. Of course, not all AirBnB hosts are on par with hotel quality, but many of them are quite good. It’s a risk, but at such prices it may be a risk worth taking.
In an earlier post about saving money through vacation packages, we showed how Kayak was an easy way to book a complete vacation combo (lodgings, travel, and more) for cheaper than most vacation booking services.
As it turns out, they have an Android app to go along with the website, and you should be using it if you aren’t already. Not only does it provide options for searching hotels, flights, and rental cars, but it also allows you to centralize all of your travel information in one place, track your flights, and get alerts when prices change.
We recommend going the vacation package route, but even if you don’t, Kayak will prove beneficial. Seriously, you don’t want to skip this one.
A company called Triposo maintains the World Travel Guide, which is an app that provides travel suggestions and ideas based on your location, weather, etc. It also provides you with relevant maps based on where you intend to go.
Technically, it’s multiple guides that can be downloaded on a per-country basis and used offline so you aren’t tied to data or Wi-Fi. These guides include landmark information, restaurant recommendations, nightlight opportunities, currency conversion tools, phrasebooks for foreign travel, and more.
And it’s all free. No need to go out and purchase costly travel guides that end up giving you the same amount of information.
When planning a vacation that’s longer than one or two days, the itinerary can be one of the more frustrating elements of the entire ordeal. With TripIt, that all changes because it automates the building of your vacation itinerary based on your emails.
No, you don’t have to grant it access to your inbox! All you have to do is forward any travel confirmation emails to email@example.com and TripIt will analyze it and add it as part of your trip. Confirmations can be from hotels, airlines, car rentals, or restaurants.
Note that TripIt requires account creation to use. Upgrading to TripIt Pro for $49/year grants additional features like real-time flight alerts, flight seat trackers, refund notifications, ad removal, and more.
If the aforementioned TripIt doesn’t suit you, maybe WorldMate will. It’s another app in the “automated itinerary” category and it’s just as good — if not better — than TripIt. Ultimately, it’s up to you to use the one that you like better.
WorldMate works on a similar principle: just forward your travel confirmation emails to firstname.lastname@example.org and it will analyze and add them to your trip itinerary. Confirmations can come from hotels, airlines, car rentals, or OpenTable reservations. Speaking of OpenTable, use it if you want to save even more money.
Like TripIt, you’ll need to create an account to use WorldMate. For the record, between the two, I do prefer WorldMate to TripIt.
Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you’re going to leave behind your mobile devices, does it? Even the most exciting trips have downtime, and you’ll probably want to browse the web then. Is it smartphone addiction? Maybe, maybe not. I’m not here to judge.
What I am here to say is that roaming data charges can be expensive. Every megabyte that you consume while overseas is money out of your pocket, and if you spill over any data caps put on you, you’ll regret it when it comes time to pay the bill. You need to minimize your data usage when roaming.
That’s where Onavo Extend comes in. Onavo Extend helps reduce incoming and outgoing data by routing your traffic through Onavo’s servers and caching or compressing all of that information. Use it in conjunction with Onavo Count, which analyzes and reports your data usage patterns.
Finally, for those of you who are planning to take a domestic vacation in the form of a road trip, GasBuddy is a vital app that you just can’t spare. However, it’s only available within the U.S. and Canada for now, so feel free to skip this one if you live elsewhere.
GasBuddy is a crowdsourced gas price tracker. When you pass by a gas station, you can update that station’s gas prices in the app. When you browse nearby gas stations, you’ll see their prices and a timestamp that shows how fresh those prices are. It’s quite clever and very useful.
When you’re on a road trip, you can use GasBuddy to “look ahead” and find the cheapest gas stations along your planned route. Over the course of a week or two, you could end up with significant savings.
If you don’t like GasBuddy, you could try one of these other apps for saving gas money instead.
How Do You Save on Vacations?
Used in tandem with these tips for saving money on vacation, the savings from all of the above apps will be more than substantial. In fact, you could put all of that money towards your next vacation and keep the cycle going.
What other apps are out there that can help save money on vacation? When overseas or domestic, we want to know, especially if you personally use those apps. Tell us all about them in the comments below!