10 apps and websites that will save you money on holiday
Conor Pope’s favourites: LoungeBuddy, Wiki Voyage, Ryanair ... oh hang on, maybe not
Saving money on your holidays has never been as easy, thanks to all the new apps and websites dedicated to cutting your costs while enhancing your experience. Here are just a few sites and apps you should be looking at if you want to save a few bob.
1. There are all sorts of specialised search engines to help you find the cheap seats. The biggest player is Google, and its flight search facility allows you to pick a destination and a date and work out which airline will get you there for less. Other options worth exploring are Skyscanner and Momondo and we kind of love Secret Flying, mainly because it has a great “error fares” section which points out mispriced fares with airlines all over the world. Right now you could fly business class return from Sydney to La for less than €1,000. If your ticket is cancelled at the last minute, don’t blame us though.
2. The LoungeBuddy app has everything you need to know about airport lounges all over the world and, helpfully, it has a booking facility so you can get yourself a place without having to talk to anyone. As most airport lounges offer free refreshments, free wifi and are far, far away from the money-pit airport shops, spending just a little on a lounge could save you a lot. And it’ll be more relaxed too. Just don’t get hammered and miss your connections.
3. You know all about Airbnb (brilliant) and Couchsurfing (brilliant if you’re 20) but you may not be so familiar with Eat With, a communal dining service which hooks up food lovers with food makers. Hosts invite registered users to their dining tables where they serve authentic, home-cooked meals for a lot less than fancy restaurants and share insights about their city too. It operates in 200 cities across 50 countries (not this one, weirdly) and those behind it say they are highly selective about who can host a meal so you can expect better than beans on toast.
4. We have not tried Eat With, but we have tried Hotwire and we really like it. The Expedia-owned website does deals with hotels all over the world and sells unsold rooms at reduced rates without the hotels having to publically discount their own rates,. The only downside is you pay up front for the hotel room and you don’t get sight of where you will be staying until after you have paid, when the details are emailed to you. You can set the location and the number of stars but then you are taking a gamble. That does add a frisson of excitement to the process.
5. There is no more smug tourist than one seen on public transport in a faraway place. Wiki Voyage will tell you virtually everything you need to know about the transport options in whatever city you find yourself. It makes the use of public transport much easier which is great for your pocket – and your smugness.
6. Many people have grown tired of Living Social and Groupon and all those deal sites that are now selling discounted STI tests and colonic irrigation (we’re grand, thanks) but when you are going away they can offer real value. Sign up to deal sites in your destination well ahead of your departure date and you will eat for less and take advantage of discounted activities. With Google Translate doing the hard work for you, you won’t even need the local lingo.
7. An average lunch overlooking the Vatican will cost more than 50 quid but an amazing meal 100m down almost any side street will cost a fraction of that. And it is the same story in every city in the world. TripAdvisor is grand for finding out what hotels to stay in but it is also great to find the best restaurants when you are out and about in your destination. Once you have the app installed, you just search for the top-rated restaurants close to where you are at any given second, and the mapping function will guide you to where you need to be.
8. If you’d rather be more organised and want to book your meals but don’t speak the language of your destination country, then The Fork will help you out. It is owned by TripAdvisor and allows you to book tables at more than 30,000 restaurants in France, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Turkey, Denmark, Portugal and Brazil.
9. The Free Wifi Finder app uses GPS to find wifi hot spots all over the world. Find a network where you are, and use the Skype or Viber apps to make calls at no cost.
10. Travel insurance is essential if you are going to travel and finding a deal has never been easier thanks to Compare Travel Insurance Ireland. And remember, if you take more than two holidays a year, it is cheaper to get a multi-trip policy.
11. And there is the Ryanair app which is great for.... okay, maybe steer clear of the Ryanair app, given the week that is in it.