9 Helpful Apps, Sites That Make Summer Vacation Cheaper

Family walking on the beach
Eric Audras
Planning ahead for a summer vacation may be the best way to save money by booking hotels and flights in advance, but there are plenty of ways to save and get around during a vacation with apps that make being on-the-go easy.

The big ones you probably know about already. If you're looking for a good local restaurant, Yelp is there for you. GasBuddy.com can help find the cheapest gas station nearby. Uber and Lyft can be hailed from your phone to get you across town.

But there are many lesser-known apps that can help you save money during summer vacation, and can just make vacation a lot more fun by not spending any money on certain activities. Here are nine that are all free:

1. Free Wi-Fi Finder

When you land in a new city, you can feel helpless without Internet access. Your phone can find networks for you to jump on for free, but the Free Wi-Fi Finder by JiWire makes it easier by not only searching free hotspots near you, but it allows you to search anywhere in the world, either online or offline. You'll know where to go for free Wi-Fi long before you arrive.

2. AutoSlash.com

This website, which doesn't have an app, is readable enough on a smartphone that a rental car can be reserved from anywhere. It sticks out from the crowd because after searching for rental prices and then picking one to book, AutoSlash emails you if the price drops before your trip. It automatically rebooks you at the lower price, and you can cancel your reservation. It should end the headache of constantly looking for better deals after you've reserved a car.

3. Hotels.com

There are plenty of ways to find inexpensive hotels while on-the-go, but I like this one because it has great last-minute deals and has mobile-only hotel coupons that can only be redeemed from a phone or app. It currently has a coupon for 10 percent to 50 percent off last-minute deals, and a half-off deal of the day coupon.


This is one of my favorite ways to set reminders and save money in small ways, and it can come in handy during vacation. IFTTT (which stands for "if this, then that") lets you create recipes -- or connections between products and apps. For example, you can set a reminder to be sent to your phone when your check engine light comes on. Set an alarm for 30 minutes before sundown to catch every sunset. Turn your home smart-lights on and off. If you take a photo with Instagram, you can set it up so that the photo is saved in Dropbox. There are endless ways to use this during summer vacation.

5. Vayable

This fun website lets you travel like a local by buying excursions a local resident will lead you on, or at least get you started. Meet a local resident in Amsterdam for $14 over beer, and she will give you her best tips for places to visit. Skip the line at the Louvre in Paris for $75 and get a one-hour tour of the highlights before being released on your own. I've written about Vayable also being an option to earn extra money in your city, though living in or near a major global city will likely lead to more paying customers.

6. FindGravy.com

Discover what the locals are doing at FindGravy.com, a site that pinpoints where you are and shows you what events are nearby. You can search by date, such as today or the entire weekend, or by what type of activity you're looking for. You can look before you go on your trip and save items to view later.

7. SitOrSquat

This site from Charmin is the ultimate bathroom app, with thousands of locations across the country so you can plan your pit stops with ease. "Sit" locations are cleaner, while "squats" leave something to be desired.

8. OandA Currency Converter

If you're traveling internationally, converting currencies in your head can be painful. The OandA Currency Converter stands out among other currency converters with its sleek styling and quick ability to factor the typical ATM rate of 2 percent or credit card rate of 3 percent into the conversion.

9. Google Translate

When your Rosetta Stone education falls short, Google Translate can quickly become your pocket-size interpreter. It can rapidly translate whole paragraphs of text or the spoken word. Simply say a phrase in English, and it will repeat your words in the foreign language of your choice.
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