While many people now consider Hipmunk to be an essential app for booking flights and Airbnb was our 2014 company of the year, there are other apps that might save your sanity when the going gets tough in a new (or old) city you're visiting. Some services help with your flight or hotel, of course, but many go beyond that. Check out these apps that make travel easier by connecting you with a comfortable lounge after you arrive, providing transportation, or even delivering gadget repair.
TripIt is a travel app essential for anyone booking a hotel and a flight for a trip (so just about anyone). You can email TripIt a series of different booking receipts and it'll populate them in your app so that you don't have to scour emails for flight numbers and booking references. It's at times more reliable than airline websites at finding delayed flights and will email you if you're able to call the airline and get a partial refund on your flight because of a rate change.
A FoundersCard membership costs $495, but frequent travelers can make that back in a few weeks using the service. Apart from solid discounts with hotel chains, the membership card also gives road warriors useful (and hard-to-get) access to services such as Total Rewards Diamond for Harrah's properties. "When I use my card, I skip the taxi and valet lines at hotels," says Chris Shifflett, CEO of Silicon Valley design firm Jumpyr. "There's also access to lounges where I can have meetings with clients." Passengers of Virgin Atlantic also get fast-track gold status. If you're renting a car, you get Avis First for discounts, one-level upgrades, and often arrive at the airport with your car waiting. FoundersCard is also well-known in entrepreneurial circles for throwing networking events worldwide.
Though this might be a post-trip addition, AirHelp reports that they can get you up to $800 from an airline if you've had a flight delayed or canceled in the last three years. It's a three-minute process to get AirHelp to file the paperwork with the airlines and even go as far as to take them to court if they're refusing to pay you what you're owed. At present, their success rates (say some reviews) are highest with overbooked U.S. and many EU flights.
If you've never smashed your iPhone, I don't recommend it. If you do, even with AppleCare, Apple's accidental damage coverage program, you'll lose all your data (as you'll get a brand new device) and restoring a backup is a pain on the run. iCracked has more than 1,300 agents nationwide who will come and fix many smashed tablet and phone screens (including the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus) in around 30 minutes in your hotel lobby, leaving you with your data intact. CNBC reports that iCracked is launching a warranty plan too, for habitually sweaty-handed people. Prices vary depending on your device and location.
Zirx and ValetAnywhere
Parking in a new city can be nightmarish, especially if that city's a major metropolitan area with garages that are full, expensive, or both. Zirx (serving Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle) and ValetAnywhere (New York) are apps for on-demand car parking. ValetAnywhere costs $6 an hour, cheaper than many garages in the city (and significantly quicker to find). Zirx charges $15 a day and for an extra fee will even gas up your car (useful for rental returns), get it washed, or charge an electric vehicle. Both let you schedule a return time so you'll make your flight.
Following the launch of same-day hotel reservation company Hotel Tonight, Allegiant Air and Expedia veterans created Roomlia, an app to book hotel deals seven days out. The deals, negotiated by Roomlia and booked directly with the hotel, have quoted availability at 250 hotels and growing. They're also rumored to be launching a loyalty program intended to rival Hotels.com, according to a source familiar with the matter. Roomlia currently has an iOS and Android app and offers discounted rates in major locations including New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Miami.
While apps such as Humin and Brewster are focused on gussying up your contact list, Connect has focused on creating a whole map of whoever's around you. This can take the edge off of a sudden trip to a new city, seeing friends or even leads that you didn't know were in the area. It's an ironically antisocial social app, using just one screen to get you meeting your in-person contacts from LinkedIn, Facebook, and other networks as quickly as possible.
There's no denying that travel can be disorienting these days, but it has to be done, and can even be beneficial. Whether it's adjusting hotel or flight schedules, dealing with broken devices, or getting from one place to another, there's no shortage of times when the weary traveler can use a helping hand. This year, dozens of companies have stepped in to aid you in making for a much smoother travel experience.