Travel can be stressful no matter the time of year, but the holiday season always seems to be worse. You're stuck managing multiple reservations for flights, hotels and car rentals, facing long lines at security, or stuck in a car for a few hours to visit friends and family.
Luckily, we have technology to do some of the hard work for us. While nothing can make airport lines or a four-hour car ride any shorter, I've highlighted five Android apps that can help take the edge off the stress of travel.
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Your trip is all planned out, and now your inbox is brimming with confirmations for flights, hotels and rental cars. Enter TripIt, a freemium service that corrals all the dates, confirmation numbers and other vital information from your upcoming reservations and turns them into an organized travel itinerary. All you have to do is forward your travel-related emails to TripIt's address and the service figures out the rest. TripIt can even automatically pull in your travel emails if you let it.
All the information you could need as you make your journey from airline counter to hotel check-in, including flight times and confirmation numbers, is stored in the Android app and you can even view it when you're offline. You also get weather reports, directions and turn-by-turn navigation for the hotels and destinations listed in your itinerary. The app is free, or you can pay 99 cents for an ad-free version.
FlightView Free Flight Tracker
Google Play is full of flight-status apps, but FlightView (free, 99 cents for the ad-free version) is one of the better choices. This free app helps you track your flight's status and saves your trips for quick access later. It will tell you if your flight is on time, plus estimated departure and arrival times from the runway, weather conditions at home and your destination, and the terminal and gate numbers for your trip. You can track your plane in the air on a map, so either you can view your trip, or friends or family who will be picking you up from the airport can see where you are.
You can also search for airports to get information about delays, local weather conditions, a seven-day forecast, and map directions. Like TripIt, you can forward emails about your flight to FlightView and the service will automatically create a new trip for you and track your flights for delays.
You can also download FlightView for iOS.
Put out by the Transportation Security Administration, MyTSA (free) is good for two things: Checking the often-changing rules of air travel and getting an estimate of wait times at the airport. The app acts like a guide, outlining what you can and cannot bring through airport security, what rules apply to checked luggage, and helping explain TSA programs, such as TSA Precheck. It's a useful tool when you have questions and I find it's faster than just searching online for the answer.
MyTSA also offer information on delays at the airport and wait times for security checkpoint lines. However, the wait times are all reported by other users, so they aren't always reliable or updated.
You can also download MyTSA for iOS.
If you're driving for Thanksgiving, Waze (free) is a great tool to have. Though the company was bought by Google, and some its features were added to Google Maps, the Waze app is still very useful and updated regularly.
At the core of Waze is a community-driven traffic map, which shows traffic backups, accidents, road hazards, closures, police presences and more. You can get turn-by-turn directions, and the app will route you around traffic issues when possible. The app also helps you find the cheapest or most convenient gas stations for when you need a pit stop. You can also connect with friends and family in the app, to see their location or get an ETA on when they'll arrive at a location.
This free last-minute hotel booking app is essential for when staying with the in-laws isn't working out, or if you're stuck at the airport after a canceled flight and don't want to sleep in the terminal. It has an elegant design which makes it easy to find a nearby hotel room on short notice. And many of the rooms listed are discounted, so you'll likely get a deal.
There's no need to worry that you'll be staying at a dive -- Hotel Tonight vets all the accommodations that it lists in the app. You also get access to Hotel Tonight's 24-7 customer service, which can help you with a booking.