Free; Android and iOS
Anyone who has ever booked a trip online probably knows of the popular website Expedia. It is well known for offering discounts on flight and hotel stay packages.
But for travellers seeking only flight or hotel bookings, this app is great. Its beautiful, easily navigable design makes it easy to search for flights and hotels.Sadly, this awesome feature is missing from its mobile app. You can still book flights and hotel nights on your smartphone, but must make each reservation separately. So you may lose out on the discounts that come with booking flights and accommodation together.
It is also easy to sort search results by the type of flight or class of hotel you want. The app even has an itinerary library for you to track your upcoming trips.
For all its design merits, the lack of Expedia's stellar travel package booking feature means the app is best used for quick price checks while on the go. Use this during your lunchtime vacation planning sessions and then make the actual booking when you get home.
Free; Android, iOS and Windows Phone
If you are in New York, London or Buenos Aires and need a place to stay that very night, this app may be the answer to your prayers.
Hotel Tonight is a bargain hunter's travel app. It offers plenty of five-star hotel rooms at bargain prices, but these rooms are available for check-in only the very same day.
It sells last-minute rooms which hotels are eager to fill at a discount. You cannot change the check-in date, but the app lets you book stays of up to five nights.
For now, the deals apply only to certain European and North and South American cities, including Cannes, Montreal or Panama City. Do not count on this app getting you a room in Bangkok for the Songkran festival.
Free; Android and iOS
The dump you have just checked in to looks nothing like the beautiful photos on the hotel's website.
TripAdvisor offers you a better chance of dodging such a nightmare, because you can read reviews before you make a booking.
Its well-organised interface is my favourite of the lot. Not only is searching for hotels extremely easy, it offers you plenty of options to sort your results, not just by popularity and price. The app categorises hotels by type, so you can pinpoint the best hotels for business trips, family vacations or romantic getaways.
Each hotel page displays recent user submitted reviews and photos, and the latest per-night prices offered by travel booking sites.
TripAdvisor does not handle bookings. It links you to travel websites for you to complete your reservation. This was a hassle, as I had to sign in for a second time, or sign up for a new account to proceed with the booking.
As with Expedia, this app is best used for trip planning. The bonus is that you can make a quick decision if you chance upon a fast-selling deal.
Free; Android, BlackBerry, iOS and Windows Phone
Urban legend has it right. There are days when plane tickets do cost much less. But you do not need an Ouija board to find out exactly when.
Skyscanner is a nifty app that helps you find cheap flights. You key in your destination and intended travel dates, then let the app scour the Web for available flights.
While many travel apps let you compare airfares, none of them work quite like Skyscanner. Its comparison chart shows you price differences between a spread of arrival and departure dates. The easy-to-read bar graph lets you quickly identify when flights are cheaper.
When I used Skyscanner to research airfares for my next trip to Tokyo, I was surprised to learn that I could save almost $100 simply by moving my arrival and departure dates by a couple of days. If your travel dates are flexible, this app could save you quite a bit of money.
Once you have chosen your flights, the app transfers you to the travel website offering the deal so you can complete your purchase.
I would have been happier skipping the hassle of multiple sign-ins, but the app's amazing price comparison tool won me over and makes this app my favourite.
This article was first published on July 09, 2014.
Get a copy of Digital Life, The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.