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Must Have Travel Apps

On a recent trip to San Diego, I was amazed with how much my smartphone affects how I experience the world, or in this case a new city. We’ve gotten to a point where smartphones are like a Swiss army knife, jam packed with a ton of extremely useful apps that make exploring a new place insanely easier, and better.

Here’s a rundown of the apps that acted as my concierge, and below I’ll go into a bit more detail of how I use some of them.

  • Kayak - to book flights
  • Uber - to get around a city
  • HotelTonight / Airbnb - find a place to stay
  • Spotify / HypeM - soundtrack to your trip!
  • Instagram - document and share with friends
  • Foursquare - find awesome local spots
  • Yelp - local rating guide
  • Tinder - find love!
  • Songkick - any bands playing locally?

The Kayak app is awesome for finding flights. It’s very easy to use, and you’d be hard pressed to find flights that they don’t have in their system. I ultimately end up purchasing almost all my flights through Kayak, and the app is very simple to use. And, of course, I’m also always rockin’ digital boarding passes. Printing things out is so lame :) .

Ground Transportation
I know, I know, I’m biased. But sometimes I use Uber and I step back and just say to myself …“Uber is the best”. After landing in San Diego I press a button on my phone, and within ten minutes my driver, Abdi, pulls up with a smile on his face. He was incredibly nice, passionate about Uber/his work, and was the perfect introduction to the city. It was almost midnight, and for only $17 I had a reliable ride to my hotel. You just can’t beat that.

One of my favorite apps is HotelTonight. It rules mobile. The design is incredible, it’s easy to use, and it serves an awesome purpose. Starting at noon every day, HotelTonight posts rooms that are available for that night in a city. You find great deals, a range of pricing options, and book everything through the app. I found a room in the exact neighborhood where I wanted to stay, and thanks to their awesome referral program I got $50 off my room. Speaking of which, use the code MCROWLEY4 to get $25 off your first HotelTonight booking (not an ad!).

Although I didn’t use it on this particular trip, it’s also worth noting Airbnb which is a service that let’s you rent people’s actual homes. It’s very seamless, and I’ve gotten to stay in some awesome homes and apartments all over the country (and continent!) thanks to Airbnb. It’s a really unique way to get awesome accommodations in a city.

As I was booking my hotel and ordering my Uber ride, I was also starving and it was midnight. Through Yelp and Foursquare I was able to look for late night food spots (and the good ones while I was at it). Although there weren’t a ton of options for midnight food in San Diego, both those apps (especially Foursquare) make finding “what the locals like” really easy. Foursquare in particular, especially with it’s list feature and explore tab, helped me find a great Friday night restaurant, and the perfect bar to spend Sunday afternoon. They’re both must haves when walking the streets of a new city.

New Friends
No trip would be complete without saying hello to a few ladies! With Tinder I posted my Facebook profile in their system (and my location of San Diego), and I was paired up with other locals. If both parties are interested, the app matches you up. Unfortunately I did not find Tinder love, but you can imagine the possibilities!

So what’d I miss? Hit me up on Twitter with any other must have travel apps!