Planning a spur-of-the-moment trip doesn't have to be a hassle. Whether you want to plot a weekend getaway at the last minute or you need to book same-day travel to attend a business meeting, the proper tools can make the task quick and stress-free. In fact, when you have the freedom to take off at a moment's notice, you may even be able to score some killer deals.
To take advantage of these benefits, you need nothing more than a capable mobile device and some apps to do the heavy lifting. Here are 10 travel apps that will help you with everything from booking all-inclusive vacation packages to finding great deals on same-night hotel stays to obtaining local-activity recommendations.
FlightBoard (Android, iOS; $4)
FlightBoard, a stylish app modeled after the board maintained at Charles de Gaulle Airport near Paris, turns your device display into an arrivals and departures board for airplane flights. It includes information drawn from more than 3000 airports and shows updated information every 5 minutes, letting you view the real-time status of any flight. The app is particularly handy for last-minute travelers who are rushing to catch a plane and for people who are looking for the next available flights out of nearby airports.
Hotel Tonight (Android, iOS; free)
Unlike Next Flight (see below), which helps you get to a same-day destination, Hotel Tonight's goal is to find a place where you can rest your head once you've arrived. The aptly named Hotel Tonight scouts for great prices at nearby hotels available on the night of your search (up until 2 a.m). You can book a room for one or more nights directly from the app. It tracks accommodations in more than 80 cities across a dozen countries, but it limits its listings to hotels that the creators have personally vetted--which means higher-quality selections, lower prices, and less slogging through an overwhelming number of choices.
Jetsetter (iOS; free)
This slick-looking app lets you do anything from reserving same-night hotel stays to booking complete vacation packages. The Jetsetter Now feature offers discounts of up to 60 percent off last-minute bookings for members--and membership is free. In a section of curated tips, editors offer suggestions for weekend trips, luxury maxi-breaks, and holidays geared for specific travelers such as Snow Seekers or City Slickers. The app also includes a nifty credit-card scanning feature, which auto-fills your details in online forms for fast, hassle-free booking. The downside: It's available only for iPhone and iPad.
Last Minute Travel (Android, iOS; free)
With a name befitting its function, Last Minute Travel (aka LMT) offers spur-of-the-moment bookings for flights, hotels, and touring activities. The sheer quantity of choices would be overwhelming if not for a set of useful sorting tools that the mobile app provides. You can view flights by price, stops, length of journey, or preferred airline; map out hotels by location; and filter hotels by star rating or recommendations). Booking is a simple three-step process--an important feature when you're severely pressed for time. You'll also find an exclusive deals section that can save you a few bucks.
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