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10 Must-Have Travel Apps

Phil Wrigglesworth 

It used to be that traveling almost always meant consulting the concierge at my hotel—whether to deal with logistics or for inside info about how to make the most of limited time. Now he or she gets a smile, maybe a quick wave, but I breeze right by the desk. I know where I’m headed and what to do when I get there, because my smartphone is loaded with apps that can capably find clean, well-priced accommodations, coordinate transportation and help me live like a clever local. In other words, I’m sure that concierge is a hardworking individual. But I’m all good.

Tripit: The gratis version syncs with your calendar and stores travel documents all in one place, both helpful. But a $49 upgrade (billed annually)  significantly ups the ante, with real-time flight alerts, fare refund notifications and an ad-free app experience, for starters. In a word: invaluable. Android, iOS and Windows Phone, free.
Glympse: When parents and teenagers have different travel agendas, they can track each other via an onscreen map and then reconnect at will. Android, iOS and Windows Phone, free.

Hopper: It’s the Big Question that plagues anyone looking to book a flight: Bite the bullet and buy now or wait a day, or a week, in hopes of scoring a better deal? Stop stressing. Just input your plans and this app will tell you exactly when to book to get the best price, based on more data than any one person could compute. iOS, free.

HotelTonight: Hit the road now, worry about where to sleep later. You’ll get the best price—at the last minute, exactly where you are—with this app. If a specific property you have an eye on seems too spendy, use the Track It feature to receive an instant alert when the price goes down. Android, iOS and Windows Phone, free.

KOA: Skip the tent—many of the 485 privately owned Kampgrounds of America in the U.S. and Canada offer cabins or Airstream trailers that fit an entire family and even a pet. Search availability and book at your convenience. Android and iOS, free.

Roadtrippers: Plug in your trip details to get apprised of local hot spots and happenings, without ever having to pore through a freebie area newspaper. Android and iOS, free.

My Disney Experience: The future is now at Walt Disney World parks, where web-based tool My Magic+ allows for seamless vacation planning. Colorful MagicBands (worn at the wrist) with embedded radio-frequency technology sync with the app to let you enter the parks, redeem FastPasses, pay for meals and much more. Android and iOS, free. 
Zipcar: For urban destinations, the conventional wisdom is to skip the rental car and take public transport. Sign up for Zipcar anyway and download the app. If you do need an auto, tap to locate one nearby, take care of the details, then unlock it with your phone. Membership starts at $7 per month. Android and iOS, free. 
Lyft: Instead of walking aimlessly to find a cab, locate nearby background-checked drivers using the app’s map on your phone. Hail with a tap. Android and iOS, free.
Ship Mate Cruise App: Among numerous cool features, cruisers can connect with fellow passengers—and their shared photos—through social media. Hooked in with lines including Disney, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Carnival and Norwegian. Android and iOS, free.