A hitchhikers guide to last minute bookings – my top apps
I’m largely a spontaneous traveler, especially when I’m travelling for long periods of time (being months). In the lead up to one of these trips, my friends, family and colleagues often want to know about all the details of what I have planned to see and do and where I am going.
When they ask, I usually just shrug and reply, “Dunno. Just heading to… **insert whatever destination here**. I’ll work it out when I get there”.
Often, this of attitude of mine is received with a few moments of silence and a dumfounded look, like they’re waiting for the punchline of a joke. With others, they put a smile on their face but their left eye would start twitching, and their fingers would start slowly creeping towards their computer to start ‘helping’ me plan the details of my trip.
Honestly, I just love the fact that I’m going to wherever I’m going and I’m perfectly happy working out the details on the way. It allows me to chose based on my mood when I get there, the feel of the place, and the recommendations of locals or other wanderers.
Not booking too much ahead of time and travelling like this is not as expensive as you would imagine, if you’re smart about it. The best savings are not always through early bird bookings; you can get some great last minute deals.
When I’m on an extended trip, I try to book accommodation at least a week ahead if possible, but there are a couple of times I’ve woken up and checked out of a place with no idea where I was going and where I was going to stay that night. In this situation, I just hunt for a Starbucks, get onto the WiFi, and a few clicks later I’ve got myself a bed booked and a direction to head to. Thats because, luckily for me, I’ve discovered a few good apps that help me out when I’m in that kind of bind.
If you’re a drifter or a spontanous nomad like me, or perhaps you’ve somehow woken up after a wild night to find yourself on a Greyhound headed for who-knows-where and need a place to stay – keep these handy apps on your phone, make sure you have a towel with you, and …DON’T PANIC.
(If you don’t get that reference to Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, I don’t want to know you!)
Exactly as the name says, if you need a room tonight, they’ll have you sorted. Wait until midday then log onto this app to get freshly-released super deals from a variety of hotels for that night. You can get some massive savings by waiting until the last minute. The app categories the hotels as ‘luxury’, ‘comfy’ and ‘basic’ so you can hunt within your budget and you know what kind of standards you’re getting. Register your credit card details on the app for super fast booking when you need it. I’ve spent a night or two – as a treat – in particularly fancy hotels which were massively reduced, thanks to this app.
One of the best hotel booking apps in my opinion. I’ve compared hotel deals from this app to other major apps, and booking.com has always had the better deal. And what I love the most about it is that you don’t need to put a deposit or pay in full when you book. Plus there are no booking fees! You do need to leave your card details, but you aren’t charged until you stay, and you can pay in cash instead when you check in (or out), if you wish. This has been a life saver.
AirBnB is brilliant. I’ve used this for 7 trips now and loved meeting real, down to earth local people, who have made me feel so welcome. You get such a better sense of local living, an insight into cultures, and great insider knowledge of the places your visiting. Tips for a great experience – read the reviews! For your first few trips pick ones with lots of good reviews, and you can glean a bit more info about the host and about the place from the various reviews. And leave a review yourself – its the community of people helping each other out that makes this such a great tool. Maybe not the best for absolute last minute, but you could find a decent place a week or a few days in advance.
I’ve only used this a couple of times but its great for travelling on a budget and if you’re a fan of hostels. When I was travelling on my own staying at hotels can get real lonely, and sometimes you just want to be in the company of some like-minded travellers so you can be all embarrassingly touristy together! This app compares all the hostels in your chosen area, all in one place. There aren’t any booking fees either. You can search different types of rooms and it lists the facilities, and aslo shows reviews. It even provides directions on how to get there. Thanks to the reviews, the hostels I found using this were fantastic, well run, with great people, and I have such fond memories of my stays there.
So there you go. These apps have been permanent additions to my phone and have got me through thick and thin. I still use them today and recommend them to everyone I know.
Have you got any travel apps you recommend? Let the rest of us know about it and leave a comment below!