Vital Apps and Sites That Will Make You a Better Spontaneous Traveler
Procrastinators, rejoice: a new crop of digital tools can help you book an entire trip in a matter of minutes, even mere hours before takeoff. So get packing.
Find your flight: The key to getting a last-minute deal is flexibility. The website Adioso lets you browse fares from your departure city to anywhere in the world and sort by price. Kayak’s Explore charts airfares on a global map to show how far your money can go. And the Get The Flight Out app (iOS) puts the cheapest day-of fares—from Orbitz, Travelocity, and others—on an easy-to-scan interface. Our best find: New York to Stockholm for $494 round-trip.
Book a room: HotelTonight (Android; iOS) is popular for its sleek design and curated picks; we like the new Rate Drop feature, which knocks down same-day prices after 3 p.m. For even deeper savings, try Hotels.com—last-minute deals start at 50 percent off. Booking.com’s just-launched app, Booking Now (iOS), claims the largest inventory, with more than 580,000 properties. To avoid information overload, the app learns your preferences and suggests hotels accordingly.
Plan your itinerary: Figure out how to fill your days with the help of Utrip, a website that can create itineraries in 37-plus cities throughout the U.S. and Europe. Users take a quick survey (Do you like mellow days or packed schedules? Do you prefer hiking or fine dining?) and provide their budget and dates. Utrip then calculates a day- by-day schedule with restaurants, sightseeing, and more— along with interactive maps to guide you along.
Make dinner reservations: Forget about booking 30 days ahead: apps like Table8 (Android; iOS) and Resy (Android; iOS) can find you a same-day seat at of- the-moment restaurants in five U.S. cities for a fee of up to $50 per booking. We scored a prime-time Saturday table at A.O.C., in Los Angeles, for $20 with Table8 and an $18 reservation at New York City hot spot Claudette via Resy.
All-in-one: If you’re looking to book airfare, rooms, rental cars, and excursions all at once, LastMinuteTravel.com sells heavily discounted package deals. Just be prepared to deal with a clunky user experience. For $50, you can join their membership club, which adds another 10 percent to your savings, on average.
Tom Samiljan is Travel + Leisure's Tech Correspondent.