NEW YORK (MainStreet)Want to rent a tree house in the forests of Vermont? There's a mobile app for that. Searching for the best Crepe Suzette in the Marais section of Paris? There's an app for that too. In fact, there are apps today for any of your summer travel needs, from airline tickets to rental cars and everything in between.
"Travel agents are essentially gone," says Matt Johnston, chief marketing and strategy Officer at uTest, whose app analytics tools Applause scores mobile applications using deep algorithm analysis of over 1.4 million applications and 75 million user reviews. "There's little or no switching costs between apps. In order to compete, these travel app brands must constantly delight their users, so that that users will love the app and build an affinity for the brand."
And that is good news for anyone who is planning a trip this season. Whether you're road-tripping across America or back-packing around the globe this summer, there are a number of fantastic travel apps for both iOS and Android that can help make your vacation the stress-free experience it's meant to be.
Here are our top 10 Travel Apps for Summer 2013:
For Overall Trip Planning Power:
These are three of the highest rated and most popular travel planner apps out there, with almost a cult following among users:
- Kayak With over 25 million app downloads and one of the highest scores from Applause (81 out of a possible 100 on iOS), Kayak is one of the best one-stop shops for all of your travel needs. It provides the ability to book your airline flight, hotel and car all in one place. "With Kayak, someone can literally book their entire trip while they're walking to the subway," said Maria Katime spokesperson for Kayak. Another popular feature is My Trips, which gives users the ability to auto-create an itinerary. "Users can book anything from surf lessons to theater tickets and forward the confirmation to Kayak to be included in the My Trips itinerary."
- TripAdvisor TripAdvisor is another favorite among travelers, with over 62 million monthly users. The app allows users to access an enormous set of reviews and photos of hotels, restaurants and sites all over the world. "Having TripAdvisor in your pocket allows you to make a decisions based on reviews by real people about what's actually going at a hotel or restaurant," says Sanjay Vakil, TripAdvisor's Director of Mobile. "That's really powerful."
- TripIt TripIt is another highly popular soup-to-nuts travel planner. "Like many, my go to travel app is TripIt," says frequent traveler Eric Esfahanian. Esfahanian says he loves how he can e-mail his itineraries and the app consolidates all of them into one single view. "It also keeps track of my rewards points [for airlines and hotels] like a champ."
For Finding a Very Specific Place to Lay Your Head
These two apps rate high among users for elegance and usability:
- AirBnB If you're traveling and want to stay somewhere other than a cookie cutter hotel room, download the AirBnB app. With rental properties in over 33,000 cities in 192 countries, the mobile app offers you a "world of unique spaces" to choose from. How unique are they talking? AirBnB's diverse options include an igloo in Pfronten, Germany, a Bali beach surf house in Kuta, Indonesia or a luxury villa on a private island in Bonifacio, France.
- Hotel Tonight This is the first hotel booking application made specifically for mobile. If you need place to stay at the last minute or just want to take a chance to save money, the app offers last minute deals on hotel rooms, saving users as much as 70% off the normal price. Hotel deals are put into five different categories: hip, basic, solid, charming and luxe.
For Saving $$ and Headaches while Road Tripping
These three highly rated apps for the road will help you maintain your sanity on that 8-hour drive to Nana's:
- Waze Whether you're driving cross-country this summer or just want to find a faster way to work, consider downloading Waze, rencently purchased by Google, to help you navigate. "Waze uses real-time driver input to route you to the quickest path to your destination," says Esfahanian. "Waze fulfills the promise of how utterly useful an app can be when smart social media is combined with a constant Internet connection to the world."
- GasBuddy GasBuddy is another crowdsouced app, a self-described "community of users working together to update gas prices." Users can quickly and easily search for gas stations nearby and compare prices.
- PBS Kids When your other devices are low on battery, it's nice to know you can throw your mobile phone in the backseat and let your kids play educational games or watch quality children's television on the PBS Kids app. Television shows available include toddler hits like Dinosaur Train, as well as shows for bigger kids like WordGirl and The Electric Company.
--Written by Jane Healey for MainStreet