Competitor: This article comes from Carrie at CarefulCents.com. See the original post How to Use Your Smartphone to Save Money When Traveling.
Entry Category: Best Ways to Earn and Save Money
Last weekend I took a much needed break and got away for the a few days. I had an amazing time, ate some delicious food and got to see some beautiful scenery. If you ever get the chance to drive across Texas (or around East Texas especially), you will not be disappointed.
Of all the money-saving tools I use, my smartphone is by far the most powerful planning tool I own. Aside from the convenience factor, it can definitely save you some cash along the way. Here’s how to use your smartphone to save money when traveling.
1. Locate the Cheapest Gas
One of the most expensive things when planning a road trip is the gas. Recently, gas prices have been going down – which is great, but you can’t always rely on the fluctuating gas prices to give you a break. The GasBuddy app is powered by a community of users working together to let drivers all across the country find the best gas prices. Using your smartphone, travelers can search by city, state or zip code for:
- The best price per-gallon
- Find the cheapest gas on the go (for free!)
- Locate gas stations and see current gas prices
- Earn points towards regular prize giveaways
2. Book a Hotel at the Last-Minute
Contrary to popular travel planning advice, I booked my hotel at the last-minute and still got a fabulous deal. I love using the Expedia hotels app to earn travel rewards without a credit card, and I recently found another app called Hotel Tonight.
Both of these choices are excellent for finding last-minute deals and savings for local accommodations. It was also super convenient to book my reservations on the go, and have the confirmation emailed to my iPhone.
3. Use Online Coupons and Specials
I never pay retail price for anything and you shouldn’t either. RetailMeNot offers a great app for coupons, saving money and finding the latest deals. Here’s some of their best features:
- Check out today’s hot deals
- Browse coupons, popular stores, and categories
- Online and in-store coupons to your favorite stores
- Easy drag-and-drop function allows seamless mobile coupon redemption
- Save coupons for later
Another one of my favorite sites is BeFrugal, where you can not only save money on purchases, but earn cash back as well. This is perfect for online shopping, reserving flights or hotels and finding discounts on local entertainment.
4. Find the Shortest Route
Whether you use the default navigation system on your phone or download the google maps app, you can save both time and money by finding the shortest route to your destination. Keeping track of your location using GPS is also extremely helpful for avoiding high traffic areas or traffic jams.
I experienced this recently on my way out of town, and used my phone to locate an alternate route. Nothing is more frustrating than being excited to start your trip, only to end up being stuck in traffic for hours (and wasting gas).
5. Check Out Free Entertainment
One of my favorite travel hacks, is finding fun but free entertainment. There are tons of ways to see the sights, attend concerts and other free activities when traveling. With sites like CityPass.com and Free-Attractions.com you will never run out of cheap entertainment choices.
Another money-saving option is to purchase a local coupon booklet, to get the best deals on sporting events, groceries, local clubs, restaurants, car rentals and more.
6. Locate Free ATM’s
The last thing I want to do when on vacation, is spend hours looking for a nearby ATM. Surprisingly enough, many local banks partner with ATM providers to give you access to fee-free ATM’s. Allpoint provides over 43,000 surcharge-free ATM’s available nationwide.
It’s easy to jump on your mobile phone and find the ATM nearest you. Paying a $2 or $4 ATM fee might not seem like a lot of money, but wouldn’t you rather spend that on your vacation instead?
7. Get the Best Food for Cheap
By far the coolest thing about a road trip (or traveling in general) is getting to try new foods! However, sometimes this can come at a high price and constantly eating out can easily bust your vacation budget.
The MealTicket app for iPhone, allows you to search for restaurant coupons and special deals in your area. It also provides a list of coupons and reviews submitted by other users. For me, this app stands out from other food apps, because you can show your server the coupon right from your smartphone, it’s all digital – no printer needed.
8. Try “Deal of the Day” Apps
I love deal-of-the-day apps like Groupon and Living Social. They are excellent tools to book vacation plans on the go, but still save some money in the process. Plus it’s fun to be a little spontaneous and try new restaurants, activities and getaway locations.
To take advantage of Groupon, simply sign-up for the local version of the service (your travel destination) and wait for the great offers to pop up. Many of the deals offer paperless redemption options, which means you can redeem them right from your smartphone.