Guide to the Best (and Worst) Travel Apps

If you’re looking for shortcuts to booking trains, planes, hotels and more, here are nine apps that are worth checking out — and some duds you might want to avoid.

The days of calling a travel agent to book a flight, hotel and car, are seemingly long gone. More Americans are turning to smartphones and tablets to plan their trips.

But with so many travel apps to choose from, it’s difficult to know which one will make planning a trip less of a hassle. You can take part of the guesswork out of selecting an app because research group ARC from Applause did the homework for you, recently rating 40 apps from the most popular travel brands.

So if you’re looking for a travel app that lives up to its promises of hassle-free trip planning, check out these nine highest-rated apps:

  • Airlines: Alaska Airlines (Android)
  • Car loaner: RelayRides (iOS)
  • Car rentals: National (iOS)
  • Car sharing: Zipcar (iOS)
  • Cruise: Norwegian (Android)
  • Hotels: Intercontinental (iOS)
  • Trains: Amtrak (Android)
  • Travel Booking: Booking.com (iOS)
  • Vacation rental: Airbnb (iOS)

On the other end of the travel app spectrum, ARC said these eight apps are in dire need of improvement:

  • Airlines: US Airways (iOS)
  • Car loaner: DriveNow (Android)
  • Car rentals: Hertz (Android)
  • Car sharing: Uber (Android)
  • Cruise: Royal Caribbean (Android)
  • Hotels: Hilton (Android)
  • Trains: Amtrak (iOS)
  • Travel Booking: Travelocity (Android)
  • Vacation rental: Couchsurfing (Android)

In order to qualify for ARC’s study, the apps had to have more than 150 reviews. In addition to the user reviews, ARC also considered usability, speed, performance, elegance, security, and privacy and content.

Jeremy Kressman, travel analyst at eMarketer, told Mobile Strategies 360 that the top-ranked travel apps allow users to make quick purchases.

“When people do make purchases on mobile, they are not going to spend hours and hours looking for something.” Kressmnan says. “They want something that takes advantage of the location of the device, something that’s fast with not a lot of tap through.”

What’s your favorite travel app? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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