Best apps for travelling on a budget

It’s about time for a vacation, right? Your body may be at your desk, but your head is on a sandy beach sipping mojitos (or some variant thereof). And while lack of money may be one of the main reasons that’s holding you back from going on a trip, you don’t have to shell out huge amounts of cash. There are a slew of apps out there dedicated to helping travelers with a more limited budget. These apps can help you save money not only when booking your flights and accommodation, but also on staying on a budget when you’re there. Here is our pick of the best apps for budget travel.

Kayak

Kayak is a one-stop-shop for booking your budget holiday. Not only does it find the best flight deals, it also surfaces deals for hotels (with a “hotel tonight” options) and car rental, while sending email notifications when hotel and flight prices change. Its excellent “explore deals” option allows you to apply filters such as price, temperature at destination, time, type of holiday (beach, ski, etc), and flight time, and then see the best deals from your airport or origin on a map.

Download Kayak for Android | iOS | Windows Phone

Hopper

Flights aren’t always necessarily cheaper the early you book them, as this app will show you. By inputting your destination and dates, Hopper will tell you when is the best time to book your flights, as well as how the price is likely to change and when it will happen. The app also provides a color-coded heat map showing you the best (ie cheapest) times to travel based on current prices. You can also chose to watch your flights and receive notifications when the prices rise or fall. My only issue with Hopper is that the vast majority of flights seem to say “book now” rather than telling you a better date to book.

Download Hopper for iOS

Airbnb

While there are plenty of hotel deal finding apps out there, if you’re happy to stay in an apartment and you want the best deal possible, there really is nothing like Airbnb. From within the app you can easily search for entire houses, a private room, or a shared room or up to 16 guests within your price range and then either instantly book it (if this option is available) or contact the host to find out more. From there you can exchange messages and save your travel itineraries, as well as read reviews of the host. If you want to earn some cash to finance your vacation, you can always rent out your own spare room or house while you’re away. If you’re staying in a really expensive location like New York, London or Paris, you’re unlikely to find a hotel that will beat the price.

Download Airbnb for Android | iOS | Windows Phone

Couchsurfing Travel App

And even cheaper way to travel than using Airbnb is to couchsurf. This app allows you to connect with local people in the city you are planning to visit that are offering their couch/floor for free. The couchsurfing app provides an easy way to connect with the hosts, as well as providing a complete profile with information on the people you’ll be staying with, their home, photos of the accommodation, and references. Putting in a request to stay with a host is a one-click process, or you can chose to exchange messages first. Couchsurfing is a great way to get to know your surroundings, as not only will you be staying with locals, the app also lists plenty of couchsurfing events taking place nearby that allow you to meet fellow couchsurfers and hosts.

Download Couchsurfing Travel App for Android | iOS

PackPoint

Whether you’re a meticulous planner or more of a stuff things in at the last minute style of packer, PackPoint is a great app for making sure you don’t forget all important items and have to pay through the nose when you arrive at your destination. Simply input where you are traveling to, when, for how long, and whether it is business or travel, then select the type of activities you’ll be doing or people you’ll need to pack for (for example, beach, work, or baby stuff) and then PackPoint will automatically generate a checklist of things to pack for all these eventualities. So no more forgetting your sunscreen and picking up a ridiculously expensive bottle at the airport.

Download PackPoint for Android | iOS

Trail Wallet

You’ve set a budget for each day and you’re going to stick to it. Easier said than done, though. Help is at hand with Trail Wallet, which works much like an expense manager app by allowing you to enter your expenditure and assigning it a category. One of the highlights is that you can chose your local currency and the app will automatically convert it into your home currency so you can see exactly how much you are spending. Plus, if you’re a real fan of stats, Trail Wallet can show you a breakdown of what you’ve been spending in a color-coded pie chart.

Download Trail Wallet for iOS

TripAdvisor City Guides

If you’re holidaying abroad, no doubt you’ll want to be careful about not running up huge cellphone bills by using a load of data. This app taps into the already excellent TripAdvisor community ratings for restaurants, hotels, and other attractions and provides it in a downloadable format. This means you don’t need to use your data to find the best restaurants nearby as the app uses your phone’s GPS to show you where it is.

Download TripAdvisor Offline City Guides for Android | iOS

Wi-Fi Finder

But if you really do need to access the internet, wi-fi is by far your best bet to keep costs down. Wi-Fi Finder does exactly what you would expect: it finds the closest wi-fi to where you are by using your phone’s GPS. There are a number of filters that allow you to sort by free or paid wi-fi, by a service provider, or the type of venue. You can then save these places to your favorites.

Download Wi-Fi Finder for iOS

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Follow me on Twitter: @karenmccandless

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