Thanks to technology, gone are the days of overpaying for flights, struggling to book a place to stay when you travel, or suffering through terrible meals at subpar restaurants.
But with so many available apps and gadgets to help you out, which ones are really going to save you time and money or make your trip more fun?
From apps that act like a 21st-century travel agent to gadgets that work as a suitcase and a phone charger, we’ve compiled 10 of the coolest products you should consider bringing on your next trip.
1. Hopper tells you when to book your flight to maximize savings.
The basic premise of Hopper is that you set up what days you want to fly, then Hopper sends push notifications telling you how prices are changing and recommends when you should buy. Then you can buy tickets for your flight directly in the app.
2. Pack Simply lets you design a custom TSA-approved travel kit for cheap and ship it straight to your door.
Pack Simply is trying to take the hassle out of buying travel-sized toiletries by offering the ability to build a Transportation Security Administration-approved toiletry bag online. Pack Simply ships the bag to you, packed and ready for your trip.
The platform is simple and works like most e-commerce sites. Pack Simply divides the toiletries into several categories (shampoo, shaving, medicine, etc.) and lets you add products to your cart. Each category has about 10-15 products to choose from, and if you spend more than $20 on products, Pack Simply tosses in the $4 clear plastic travel bag for free.
3. Overnight helps you find a place to crash last-minute.
Overnight offers on-demand booking of short-term rentals — think Airbnb meets Hotel Tonight. Overnight’s rentals are often cheap (you can book private rooms or entire homes), and users can often find accommodations in 10 minutes or less.
Download it from the App Store.
4. Away’s luggage charges your phone while you wait for your flight.
Imagine a world where your luggage rolls effortlessly next to you, you can charge your phone without searching the airport high and low for an outlet, and you don’t have to struggle to jam your heavy bag in an overhead compartment.
That’s the world Away wants to provide with its line of modern, durable suitcases.
The New York-based startup, which launched in early 2016, aims to create “the perfect suitcase.” The company makes carry-on bags and full-size suitcases, along with accessories like luggage tags and travel blankets.
5. Lola is like having a travel agent in your pocket.
Created by Kayak cofounder Paul English, Lola is an app with a messaging interface that connects users with a team of travel consultants who can take care of every step of the planning process. The app uses a combination of artificial intelligence and an experienced staff to provide travelers with an alternative to many of the DIY travel websites out there.
Download it from the App Store.
6. The Infatuation is your cool friend who knows all the best restaurants.
If Lola is your travel agent, The Infatuation is your best friend — who just so happens to be a well-traveled foodie. The app provides reviews and guides for restaurants and bars in seven US cities and even more worldwide.
But the best part of The Infatuation is how specific it is — meaning it almost never steers you wrong. Looking for a place you can take a screaming child (and not get death stares)? There’s a guide for that. Need a restaurant (or 35) where you could get away with eating in your gym clothes? The Infatuation is here to help.
7. G. Spotting is a curated travel directory from Gwyneth Paltrow herself.
If you’ve ever wanted to travel like Gwyneth Paltrow, there’s an app that can help. G. Spotting — from the team at Goop — is a highly curated directory of places to visit in 27 destinations worldwide. The app helps you find a restaurant, pick places to shop, choose a hotel, and dress like a local.
8. The popular game “Ballz” will alleviate airport boredom.
“Ballz” is a crazy-addictive game that’s here to save you from the tedious wait to board your flight.
The game is similar to “Breakout” — you have to use a ball to break through numbered tiles. The number on a tile signifies the number of times you have to hit it before it breaks. But the best part about “Ballz” is that you don’t need an internet connection to play, so the game could last you through your flight.
9. VSCO will make your vacation photos look professionally shot and Instagram-ready.
VSCO is a free app that lets you fine-tune your photos — with beautiful results. It’s easy to make minor adjustments to your photos or test the variety of filters available, and the app often adds new filters to its marketplace (although not all of them are free). While Instagram is catching up when it comes to editing capabilities, VSCO is still the best photo-editing app out there.
10. Turo is like Airbnb but for renting cars.
Turo lets you rent a car directly from its owner rather than going through companies like Hertz or Enterprise. You can rent cool cars, like a Tesla Model S or a Range Rover Sport, or choose something a bit more dependable, like a Toyota Camry or Jeep Compass. Either way, it’s all done through the app and may help you get a better rate than at the big rental companies.