Holiday travel can put a dent in your wallet – especially for families. Value-conscious travelers looking for more value for their money this holiday season can save time and money by downloading these free intelligent travel apps.
This is your guide to save big on time, airfare, rental cars, attraction tickets, local activities, hotel reservations, and more.
Hotels are charging $15-$20 per day for Internet access. In many cases, this is an optional service, but it can sometimes be built into your daily rate as a “resort fee.” Isn’t Internet access a necessity? U.S. Consumers seem to think it is, so why pay more?
As an alternative, try Wi-Fi Finder. This is a free app available to iPhone and Android users. It determines your location using your phone’s GPS and feeds back a list of places for paid and public Wi-Fi.
Wi-Fi Finder permits you to browse for hotspots both online and off, and its search results are visible by list or map view. Your search returns detailed information about the location, including a brief descriptive overview, contact information and directions.
For your car rental needs, download CarRentals.com. It gives you instant access to 15,000 rental car locations worldwide and the ability to reserve a car from the palm of your hand. Unfortunately, it’s currently only available to iPhone users.
Simply enter your city, zip, or airport code and the rate you wish to pay, and the app’s price comparison tool feeds back a list of rental car companies based on that criteria. You can select and reserve a rental car from the palm of your hand.
The iFindHotels app by HotelsCombined.com finds bargain rates at hotels worldwide. It connects to the HotelsCombined.com directory giving you instant access to price comparison tools, hotel images, descriptions, guest ratings, reviews and maps. You can browse, research and book your hotel stay directly from your smart device.
Now that you’re online, and have your rental car and hotel reservations, try Tripit. The Tripit app saves you valuable time by managing all of your itineraries and reservations. Simply forward existing email confirmations to Tripit and have your entire trip organized into a single master itinerary.
Keep the details of your trips current by taking advantage of Auto Import. Auto Import performs a daily scan of your inbox and automatically updates your master itinerary.
This app can be synchronized with Outlook, Google, Lotus, Blackberry and iPhone and iCal calendars and shared with your social networks. It displays local maps, directions and weather forecasts, enables flight check-in, and aids in booking dinner reservations to purchasing movie tickets. It’s like having a virtual travel agent.
Get added features with Tripit Pro, from storing frequent flyer accounts to trip rerouting options, and a complementary 1-year Regus Gold (access to 1,200 worldwide business lounges) and rental car partner membership.
Tripit is available on most smart devices, including Apple’s iPhone and iPad, Samsung’s Tablet, Android, Blackberry and Windows 7 phones.
If you really want to save big, try Foursquare to find great deals on local shopping, dinning, activities — just about anything. A unique money-saving feature of this app is the ability to “check-in” from merchant locations. Check-ins accumulate points and badges and can be redeemed for instant discounts or free merchandise.
Foursquare is interactive and fun. You can save places you’ve visited, write reviews, track merchant specials and have recommendations sent to your smart device. There are currently over 750,000 merchants offering Foursquare specials.
Groupon and Living Social
Finally, be sure to also check out other amazing deals and offers on travel, hotels, entertainment and local promotions by downloading the Groupon and Living Social apps.
Qiana Chavaia is the CEO and Founder of Q Arts & Media, LLC, a New York City-based marketing firm. She’s also a digital and interactive marketing strategist, and small business and personal finance columnist for mint.com and quicken.com.