Your smartphone is your most consistent travel buddy, but it can also be your most valuable resource with these free apps.
For business or pleasure? Why not both?
Travel and tourism is one of the largest industries in the United States with business travel contributing 274.7 billion U.S. dollars to the GDP in 2013—29.2 percent of the total industry contribution. This is predicted to increase, with domestic business trips predicted to reach 480.5 million by 2016.
Business travel is here to stay, but it doesn't need to be a burden. Whether you need help organizing your trip or finding the best restaurant once you arrive, these apps will get you where you need to be. The best part? They're all free!
Related Article: Business Travel Accessories Every Road Warrior Needs
Apps for Planning
Airfarewatchdog is great to use before booking your flights. You choose the date and location; then the app will automatically send you low fare alerts. It compares all airlines so you don’t need to waste your time. Book smarter, not harder.
Available for iPhone
TripIt is the best app for managing your schedule before your trip. All you have to do is email TripIt your confirmations, and the app will organize a master itinerary—including flights, hotel confirmations, meetings and anything else on your agenda. Keep it for yourself or send to others.
The basic version is free, however, you can purchase the pro version for $49 a year.
With Hipmunk, you can search thousands of travel websites instantly, including Amtrak schedules and Airbnb accommodations. Use the filters to sort by time, price or airline. The app includes additional filters, “agony” and “ecstasy,” which considers personal preferences--such as amenities or number of stops. After you input your choices, the results are shown on a visual chart.
Image via Hipmunk
For hotels, the heat map options show you what’s around your hotel so you can choose to be in the center or a thriving city, a quiet town or anywhere in between.
Gas Buddy makes it easy to find the closest or least expensive gas in your area. Locations are divided by price or proximity and can be shown as a list or map view. The information is all peer generated and even includes features of the station (such as diesel or car wash) and available coupons.
At the Airport
This app is ideal for frequent travelers. Use GateGuru to keep track of flight changes, delays or gate switches. It shows you where the best places to eat are and where to find free Wi-Fi.
Image via GateGuru
Something unique to this app, you can see your “stats” detailing how many hours you’ve spent at the airport, on planes, etc. For the road warriors, use this the next time you need to convince your boss of some well-deserved time at home.
This app is my personal favorite for travel. With Audible, you can download a book before your trip—or just before your plane takes off—to experience a great read while you’re in the air. (As a tip, you cannot download a book directly from the app, but you can log onto your phone's web browser and download it from Amazon.com.) It doesn’t use data so you can listen on the plane without needing Wi-Fi.
Although most people have already experienced the convenience of Uber, the main reason I included this app is to teach you how to hack the app to get picked up from the airport.
Image via Travel More
In some cities, drivers cannot pick you up at the airport, which prevents users from requesting a ride. But here’s a trick: drop your pickup location pin just outside the airport, and then call your driver to tell him or her you are at the airport. That’s it! Now you have a friendly driver and an inexpensive ride to your next location.
Hotel Tonight allows hotels to sell last minute cancellations to sell last-minute inventory for weary travelers without a reservation. So you can plan less and live more. The app displays local hotels—and the prices—on a map view so you can spend less time scrolling through endless lists. It’s simple design allows the user to find a hotel, and book a room, in just a few taps and a swipe.
Related Article: 13 Best Apps for Solving Everyday Business Challenges
You Have Arrived
Expensify allows you to easily keep a budget of your trip. Take a picture of your receipt and done. Cash or credit transactions and mileage can all be stored in one place. If you misplace a receipt along the way, not a problem, Expensify can connect to your credit card, keeping track of everything you need to create an expense report and be properly reimbursed.
AroundMe allows you to quickly learn what businesses are in your area. This is a great tool for traveling to new or foreign cities. The app identifies your position, all you need to do is select what category you are looking for: from banks to bars.
Image via Mac Stories
AroundMe will filter your options by the proximity to your current location.
You are bound to exchange business cards with those you meet in and out of meetings. However, the chances of keeping all the business cards you collect are slim. With Evernote, all you need to do is take a picture of the business card, it will store the information in your phone and can even connect to LinkedIn. In addition this app provides you with one central location to take meeting notes, set reminders, create voice memos and more.