The Web Summit that concluded in Dublin, Ireland was chock-full of travel technology companies trying to get funding, trying to build buzz, and trying to be the next big thing. With over 20,000 attendees and over 2,000 exhibitors, it was a HUGE show.
I talked to dozens of travel and lifestyle startups over three days and want to share my picks with VacationCounts readers. So here are my 5 favorite travel websites and mobile apps that help you save time, money, and help you to better enjoy your time off from work.
Remember these are start-ups and early-stage businesses, so in some cases their apps are new and not completely polished. Look for the word “Beta” to signify it is released but still in the testing-feedback-improving stage. And since they are all new to me, I have yet to try any of these apps and services to determine if they deliver what they promise. Give them a try and report back on your experience!
What it’s about: Create an online diary of your trip with all the daily details that you can turn into a real book. Edit the contents, add photos, and share with your friends and family before, during, and after. When you are done with your vacation and want to create a lasting memory, order a copy in book form. Have it printed and shipped to you by mail to be put up on your vacation memories bookshelf. It also makes a unique gift for travel partners and family members that are less tech-savvy.
Thoughts: Who needs photo albums anymore? So do you want a physical book or do you prefer to blog about your travels online?
What it’s about: Quickly look up the different lounges available at almost every airport in the world. Even if you don’t have frequent flier status with the airlines, find out how to buy your way into a lounge with a day pass. Either way you’ll stay productive while traveling. Get on the Wi-Fi, grab a drink and snack, and catch up on whatever it is that you want to do (in peace and quiet) during a long layover. Download the app to your iPhone in the App Store or Android in the Play Store before you head off on your next flight.
Thoughts: Are you a non-loyal traveler who is never going to earn gold status nor agree to pay for lounge access?
What it’s about: When your flight is delayed, cancelled, or overbooked (it happens way too often during the busy holiday seasons such as Christmas) do you claim compensation directly with the airline? You can do this yourself by reading up on the country-specific air passenger consumer rights or you can pay this company a 25% commission to do the work for you. Of course you don’t pay them anything if they fail in their airline compensation claim. You’ll hopefully save time and money when you are the unfortunate victim of a major disruption to your vacation plans.
Thoughts: Have you successfully been able to receive airline compensation in the past and how hard was it?
What it’s about: Instead of writing reviews on TripAdvisor for free, this startup intends to reward travelers for writing and sharing their hotel reviews. It took you a lot of time to write those reviews, so why not earn money in the process? However instead of earning cash-back, you’ll earn credits to book future travel on their site. So for those that stay in numerous hotels and have strong opinions, it is one more way to afford to travel more by earning discounted bookings.
Thoughts: Will a new hotel review site take off or is TripAdvisor too powerful now?
What it’s about: Next time someone acts jealous about you taking yet another vacation to a far-off land, tell them that you are doing it for a good cause. This site aims to connect charities around the world with travelers wanting to donate needed supplies. So many countries are home to non-profits and NGOs which help local communities in areas such as education, orphanages, youth organizations, social welfare, and healthcare. You are able to sign up to buy and deliver goods from a wish list and personally deliver them to the charity in need. What a great and simple way to give back to the places you visit on vacation.
Thoughts: Have you donated while traveling in the past and how have you located reputable organizations in need?
I’d love to hear about other cool and new travel apps that you recommend. Add your comments about my picks and share your favorite apps that help you to take more vacation time off.
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