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10 terrific apps for last-minute travel

Jasmine France | April 19, 2013
Planning a spur-of-the-moment trip doesn't have to be a hassle. Whether you want to plot a weekend getaway at the last minute or you need to book same-day travel to attend a business meeting, the proper tools can make the task quick and stress-free. In fact, when you have the freedom to take off at a moment's notice, you may even be able to score some killer deals.

mTrip (Android, iOS; $4)

Travelers embarking on a trip without a lot of advance planning may not have time to pick up a suitable travel book. Plus, who wants to carry around a bulky tome these days? For people who like to travel light and last-minute, mTrip offers in-depth digital travel guides for dozens of popular destinations. Besides covering such standard guidebook fare as accommodations, attractions, restaurants, and shops, the app lets you create personalized itineraries, as well as add photos and notes while on your trip, and send digital postcards to family and friends. The folks behind mTrip also maintain augmented-reality maps--accessible offline--that provide directions to local destinations on foot and by public transit.

Next Flight (Android, iOS, Windows Phone; $3)

Next Flight is a useful app for just about any frequent flier, but its up-to-the-minute flight information is ideal if you find yourself needing to hop on a plane right away. You plug in your origin, destination, and departure date; and the app responds by generating a list of all available flights to that locale, along with their departure and arrival times. The app also supplies terminal and gate information--data that can be crucial to have on hand if you're in a rush. Regrettably, the app itself doesn't include booking functionality, but that's mainly because it's so oriented to last-possible-minute travel that a call to the airline is required.

Travelzoo (Android, iOS; free)

Travelzoo is useful for finding everything from full-blown, all-inclusive vacations to deeply discounted tickets to local events. For travelers who find themselves looking for a local's experience in a new city, there's a handy mapping feature that shows deals near you for activities ranging from baseball games to ballet. The app delivers these Local Deals vouchers directly to your phone, so you won't have to go hunting for a printer during your travels. The Travelzoo Top 20, a list of the best deals of the week, arrives as an information update inside the app each Wednesday--it's particularly well suited for last-minute bargains, since the offers tend to sell out quickly.

TripIt (Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Windows Phone; free)

Making sure that all of your trip details are coherently organized will help ensure that your last-minute travel unfolds smoothly and with as little stress as possible. The TripIt app lets you access all of your travel details in one place. You simply forward your airline and hotel reservations to a TripIt email address, and TripIt then saves the data to organized itineraries that you can access on your phone. You can also add plans directly to the app; sync itineraries with your calendar; share itineraries with friends and family; and receive weather information, travel directions, and maps for your travel destinations. A pro version (priced at $49 per year) provides additional features such as flight alerts and rewards tracking.


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