Updated: Aug 12, 2019
The first step in booking a successful and inexpensive trip is knowing where to look. I will give y’all my must have travel apps that allow me to plan my trips seamlessly and find fun activities to do while I’m there. When you first have the idea that it's time for a trip but don’t necessarily have a specific location in mind, you should start at how you want to get there: road trip, cruise or flying.
Before you go!
If you’re going on your trip by air it’s great to have the airlines apps handy. But to save time, compare airline fares on these two apps: Kayak & Hopper . If you’re not dead set on dates, these apps are also great because it can show you fares for up to 2 days before or after the dates you selected that may be at a lower rate.
Why I love Kayak: it’s great if I don’t have super set dates and let’s me know if the airline does/doesn’t include luggage. I love to compare on this website but I always find the fare on the official airline app and book it there.
Why I love Hopper: it’s great at telling you when to book. This is an amazing feature! If you know you want to go somewhere later on in the year it will tell you to wait or book now by predicting how the flight prices will fluctuate.
Once you’ve booked a destination, you have to find accommodations. If you’re booking them separately your best bet is either going the hotel route or the Airbnb route for domestic trips. I suggest looking at the brand of hotels you like most and joining their loyalty program. This way your stays accumlate points and you can eventually gain free night stays. This is similar to my method with airlines that I mentioned in the blog How I’m Flying Round Trip to Peru for Under $350 USD.
If you’re new to travel, especially outside the country, I would suggest finding a bundle that includes a resort.
I’m here! What’s next?
First things first, know the best way to get around. Some places you need a rental car because you’ll end up spending just as much if not more on Lyft/Uber rides and sometimes it’s super beneficial to go the other way. Do a little research before you get to your destination to know how far you’re staying from the airport and how far you’re staying from attractions you want to go to. Knowing the answers to those two questions can help direct you.
How to find fun things to do
My go to app for actives in new states is Groupon! There is a category called “Things to do.” I mentioned this in my blog Explore Houston, TX. Some cities even have attraction passes that cover multiple activities and sell them at a discounted rate on here. That’s the best part, you find extremely fun things to do at really responsible rates. Activities range from family friendly events like the zoo and tours to romantic outings such as wine tastings. Another option is Airbnb’s experiences category. This includes a lot of local activities that you wouldn’t normally find in a huge generic search on Google. Some of the activities can get a little pricey so remember to stick to your budget!
If you are going out of the country and don’t want to spring for the international plan here’s a great option, WhatsApp! Everything you do on your phone you can do through this app, you just need WiFi. Whether you want to FaceTime your loved ones or shoot a text to your bestie, you can do it all through this app with your regular phone number.
Back so soon!?
The process of going through customs when coming back in the country can be very hectic not only for first timers but even seasoned vets. Here’s how to breeze through it a little easier: Mobile Pass. If you’ve never been through customs before, this is how it goes. The process is not as strenuous for cruises but this app can be used at some ports as well. The biggest headaches usually come from entering the States by plane. You will be on the international side of the airport and wait in one line to go to a kiosk that will ask you questions such as were you around livestock and are you declaring items that you purchased there and have brought back with you. It’ll take a picture of you, give you a slip and you will wait in yet another line until you get to baggage claim. Through this app you are able to skip that first line all together because you will answer all of those questions and taken your picture already while sitting on the plane. All you have to do, if you don’t see signs directing you to the Mobile Pass line, is ask someone directing the lines where you should go. This will shave down your time by nearly half.
Mobile Pass is not in all US airports and cruise ports yet. I have included all of the airports and cruise ports that currently use this time saving feature.
- Baltimore (BWI) – Baltimore-Washington International Airport
- Boston (BOS) – Boston Logan International Airport
- Chicago (ORD) – Chicago O’Hare International Airport
- Dallas (DFW) – Dallas Fort Worth International Airport
- Denver (DEN) – Denver International Airport
- Fort Lauderdale (FLL) – Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
- Fort Lauderdale (PEV) – Port Everglades Cruise Port
- Houston (IAH) – George Bush Intercontinental Airport
- Houston (HOU) – William P. Hobby Airport
- Miami (MIA) – Miami International Airport
- Miami (MSE) – Miami Seaport Cruise Port
- Minneapolis (MSP) – Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport
- Newark (EWR) – Newark Liberty International Airport
- Orlando (MCO) – Orlando International Airport
- Philadelphia (PHL) – Philadelphia International Airport
- Phoenix (PHX) – Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
- Pittsburgh (PIT) – Pittsburgh International Airport
- Portland (PDX) – Portland International Airport
- Raleigh (RDU) – Raleigh Durham International Airport
- Sacramento (SMF) – Sacramento International Airport
- San Diego (SAN) – San Diego International Airport
- San Fransisco (SFO) – San Fransisco International Airport
- San Jose (SJC) – Mineta San Jose International Airport
- Seattle (SEA) – Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
- Tampa (TPA) – Tampa International Airport
- West Palm Beach (WPB) – Port of Palm Beach Cruise Port