MANILA -- Technology has really changed the way people travel. Gone are the days of going to a travel agency to book flights or consulting guidebooks to list down the best tours to take. For many tech-savvy travelers, online travel agencies and e-commerce platforms are the way to go.
Just think of how easy Googlemaps, Uber and Grab have made life for many people. Now just think of that kind of hassle-free convenience applied to other aspects of travel.
With a few simple swipes on a smartphone, travelers can easily look for the best value deals, book cheap flights, find unique accommodations, and enjoy fun travel experiences all hassle-free. Here are a few handy mobile apps that are changing the game in the travel scene.
If you're a budget traveler, you’ve probably heard or used Skyscanner to search for the cheapest flights. Skyscanner compares ticket prices across a wide range of airlines and presents the cheapest dates to fly through a color-coded calendar.
“Apart from the fact that Skyscanner is so easy to navigate, I've proven that they really offer more options for travelers especially for those who are about to embark on long-haul flights on a budget. You can compare prices and it’s flexible,” says author and travel blogger Micaela Rodriguez who runs the blog Senyorita (www.senyorita.net).
She used the app to book flights to the UK, flying from Manila to Birmingham and also got a good deal with them for a trip to Bangkok. Skyscanner is available for download on Browser, Android and iOS devices.
Most travelers prefer to stay in hotels, but if you’re looking for cheaper alternatives especially for long-term stays, AirBnB is a popular option. This online marketplace allows people to lease or rent unique short-term lodging including vacation rentals, apartments, homestays, hostel beds and hotels around the world.
Nina Fuentes of the blog Just Wandering (https://justwandering.org) and long-time user of AirBnB during her frequent international trips likes the variety of options to choose from. She’s stayed in AirBnb properties as varied as a treehouse at the banks of the Taal Lake in Batangas to a luxury studio in Morocco that “looked straight out of a magazine.”
“I like AirBnB because it gives me a wide variety of accommodations to stay at. I am not too fond of sharing a space with so many people like in hostels, but I also don't need all the amenities a hotel offer, so AirBnB is a good balance between the two,” she says.
For those always on the go and need to book last-minute flights and hotels, the Traveloka app is a very useful tool to have. Traveloka is a flight and hotel booking app that helps you search, compare and purchase flights and book hotels all in the same app.
The Jakarta-based app has a large presence in other Asian countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam and is gaining a good following in the Philippines because of their frequent in-app promos and discount codes that give good value deals - from 50% discounts in high-end resorts to P1,000-off on airfare.
Mervin Marasigan of the top travel blog Pinoy Adventurista (www.pinoyadventurista.com) says Traveloka offers good value deals, especially for budget travelers. He’s used the app to book flights to Bacolod and Singapore and stay in various hotels during his trips.
“As a frequent traveler, I always want to make the most out of my budget. That’s why I always hunt for bargains and seat sales. I'm happy that I don't need to wait for a seat sale now, because Traveloka offers cheap flights and very competitive hotel rates. And with their weekly promo codes, their rates are cheaper than other online travel agents or booking apps most of the time. And they also don't charge booking fees.”
Traveloka is available on Browser, Android and IOS.
Aside from hotels and accommodations, traveling is about trying unique experiences every destination has to offer. Klook is an app that allows users to discover and book good value deals for in-destination travel services.
Their database lets you explore Asia’s top destinations, from booking tickets to Hong Kong Disneyland, exploring Kyoto’s streets in traditional kimonos or getting Fast-track entries to Taipei 101’s Observatory in Taiwan.
According to Gael Hilotin of the blog The Pinay Solo Backpacker (www.thepinaysolobackpacker.com), Klook offers a wide range of services aside from tours.
“What I like about Klook is it's not just good for booking tours, you can book pocket Wi-Fi, car rental, airport transfers, bus tickets, train tickets and even meal vouchers! Tickets and other deals are way cheaper,” she says.
Booking ahead of time lets you beat the long queues on-site and gives you paperless e-tickets for easy access.
“For example, for Disneyland, you can just show the mobile voucher and enter without having to go through a long queue just to buy a ticket. Or the pocket WiFi, you can just pick it up at the airport upon arrival and drop it off when you fly out. The site is also easy to understand, use and navigate. And a Klook rep is ready to assist you via chat if you have questions.”
The app also allows conveniently you to browse using U.S. dollar, Philippine peso, or other currencies. Klook is available for download on Browser, Android and IOS.
Similar to Klook, but currently only available on the App Store for iOS devices, KKday is a leading e-commerce platform from Taiwan that’s making its presence felt here in the Philippines by offering users unique travel experiences.
KKday serves as your all-in one travel pocket guide where users can log in through their Facebook, Google, or e-mail account to select from local activities and tours like city-tours, theme park VIP admissions, guided food tours, island-hopping, arts and culture tours and much more.
Karla Ramos of the blog Karla Around the World (www.karlaroundtheworld.com) says the app is pretty straightforward and easy to understand.
“You just input the location you want and it will show you all the activities in that country. I like that it has a save wishlist function --- it makes it easier to backtrack tours I am interested in and it gives a lot of discounts,” says Ramos.
She adds that the app has a 24/7 text support system and breaks the "language barrier" in case some tour guides don't speak English making it easier to book or communicate what you want. For a trip to Taiwan, she used KKDay for everything from airport pick up and transfers, WiFi rental, a tour to a spring spa and resort an hour from Taipei, a Juifen tea house experience and even Qipao (traditional Chinese dress) rental for better souvenir photos.
“The app saved us the hassle in transport and cost us only P1,300 for three people. Sure, the bus or train may be cheaper but if you land in Taipei at 2 a.m. exhausted and with bags, it’s a super good option. The WiFi rental was fast and I got discounted rates on renting a Qipao,” she adds.
Still feel stressed out planning where to stay and what to do in a destination? Thanks to these handy mobile apps, planning your next getaway is as simple as a few clicks on your phone.
For more travel tips, check out the author’s blog Travel Up (www.traveling-up.com).