8 travel apps to make your life easier

Make your trip a breeze — and customize it to your liking — with these helpful apps.

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Now that you’re out of college, your travel isn’t restricted to when school is on break. One of the perks of being an adult is that you can go wherever you want, whenever you want — as long as you can afford it.

But you might need help booking, planning, and actually taking that awesome vacation. Here are eight — mostly free — apps to help you get on your way.

Before you go

A little bit of advance planning will mean a smoother (and much cheaper) vacation. Download Google Trips ahead of time. This new free app organizes your journey from start to finish, pulling flight and hotel reservation info from your Gmail account and combining it with sightseeing suggestions based on what Google knows about your preferences (which is more than you think) and details about locations and hours of operation. The end result is a custom itinerary for each trip that you can download to your phone for offline access.

You already know about apartment-sharing, but have you thought about renting a car the same way? Turo is like Airbnb for cars; it enables users to rent private vehicles from owners around the world without going through a car rental agency, and often at a lower price. Many of the owners will even bring the car to you, or you can pick it up at the airport. If you’re extra clever, use the app to rent out your own car while you’re gone.

On the way

Long layovers sitting in a cramped seat in an airport, especially one that doesn’t have free Wi-Fi, can be frustrating. So, just plug your frequent flier and credit card information into Lounge Buddy to find complimentary lounges in airports around the world. You can even filter results by amenities like free drinks or showers and pay for lounge access (when it isn’t free) through the app. When you arrive at your destination, use Rome2rio to figure out how to get from the airport to your hotel. This handy app aggregates all the possible modes of transport between any two given points, from trains to buses to taxis, and estimates prices and time needed for travel.

While you’re there

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, whether it’s a beach holiday or an urban adventure, there are numerous apps that will help you discover the best things to see, eat, and do nearby. If you’re a coffee aficionado, check out Beanhunter, an app based on user reviews from fellow caffeine-lovers that pinpoints the best cafés closest to your location. Field Trip also uses your location, highlighting interesting and obscure places and experiences nearby that might not have made it into the guidebook: You can choose your particular interest, whether it’s museums, architecture, or historic sites, and then it will give you directions as well as background information on your pick.

If you’re sick of reading online reviews from people with vastly different taste from your own, give Cool Cousin a try instead. The app connects users with people of a similar mind-set in cities around the world. These “cousins” recommend their favorite experimental cocktail bars, underground music venues, and bargain breakfasts, giving users unique local insight from people they might actually be friends with in real life.

Traveling with friends, family, or a partner? Avoid the dreaded “four separate checks, please,” scenario by downloading Splitwise. Free, easy to use, and able to handle even the most complicated payment scenario, this app lets each user enter items he or she has paid for, and keeps a running total of who owes what to whom, making settling up at the end of the trip as easy as can be. Pro tip: It’s also great for organizing rent and bills with roommates once you get home.