If you’re itching to get out of town before the summer ends, I recommend traveling the digital way. These smartphone apps and websites will help you maximize your trip (and perhaps save you some money, too).
If You’re Going on a Road Trip
Planning on logging long hours in the car? Along the Way maps out restaurants, shopping, and other places of interest along your route. You can also search for a specific place (like a much-needed coffee shop) to plan your next stop. Similarly,Roadtrippers lets you choose the kinds of places you’d like to visit (like national parks, historic landmarks, vineyards, and more), helps you plan a route, and offers reviews of places along the way.
I also recommend Gas Buddy, a crowd-sourced app that helps you find the most affordable gas nearby. For real-time traffic reports, use Waze, which invites users to report police activity, red light cameras, accidents, and congestion.
If You’re Planning a Last-Minute Getaway
Never fear, procrastinators: These apps can still help you plan a great vacation. If you’re stranded in a new city without a room, try HotelTonight, which offers day-of deals on hotel rooms (you can book a room up until 2:00 am!).
If you’re afraid to commit to a certain flight or hotel, OptionsAway will be your placeholder for up to 21 days before you’re ready to officially say yes. You’ll lock in the price from when you reserved, but you will pay a premium for the service. NextFlight is another good one, designed for when you miss your flight and need a new one quickly, or when you prefer to book last-minute.
And for on-demand car service, check to see if Uber is available in the city you are visiting. Use the app to tell a driver to pick you up wherever you are. Since you link your account with a credit card, you don’t have to worry about carrying lots of cash.
If You’re a Picky Flier
Do you care about ample legroom and access to electrical outlets on a plane?RouteHappy helps you comb through flight options based on details like these. TheHipmunk app offers another cool search feature: You can filter by “agony,” removing long layovers or super-expensive options. And SkyScanner is a friendly, simple app that helps you compare prices with neat bar graphs.
If You Want to Feel Like a Local
For discovering the best of what’s around, comb tons of travelers' reviews on Trip Advisor, and use Yipit to search for deals at local haunts like restaurants and music venues. I also love Travelzoo, which curates local deals that have been vetted by its staff.
If You Want to Stay Organized
Before I go anywhere I use the TripList app, which has a built-in catalog of items to help you remember what you need for a camping trip, beach vacation, and more. I also use TripIt to plan my schedule. All you have to do is forward your trip-related emails (like hotel confirmations and flight details) to their email address and the app pulls everything into an easy-to-follow itinerary.