Travel apps help consumers score big savings

No question, last-minute travelers can grab great deals. When hotels, resorts, cruise lines and even airlines have unused inventory, they often offer it at deep discounts – sometimes as much as 50 percent and more off original prices.

To be a successful “flash traveler,” though, you’ve got to be the kind of person who can toss things into a suitcase, lock the door and hit the road on short notice (which excludes most parents of young kids and pet owners). Keeping your passport up to date doesn’t hurt, either.

According to research done by Expedia, there are plenty of travelers who fit that description. More than 90 percent of those polled considered themselves to be “at least a little spontaneous” when it came to travel, and about 30 percent had taken last-minute trips.

The biggest challenge, besides having enough clean underwear and socks on hand, is finding the bargains in time to book them before they disappear.

Luckily, there’s an app for that. In fact, there are a number of apps for last-minute travel. Here’s a few suggestions:

▪ Flight Tonight: Tired of going through fare-comparison sites looking for discounted flights from your local airport? This app does it for you and offers up a changing mix of same-day options for round-trip flights to U.S. and international locales. You can buy your ticket through the app.

If I had been able to leave work and drive to Bradley International Airport instead of finishing this column, I could have been on my way to Aruba for $525, several hundred dollars less than I could find elsewhere.

▪ Hotel Tonight: This app offers last-minute deals on hotel rooms in major cities, and discounts run as much as 70 percent. It’s a great resource for anyone who gets stuck mid-route and for anyone who leaves travel arrangements until the last minute to get the best deals.

▪ For Less: Once you arrive at your destination, you can save money on your meals and entertainment with the For Less apps. Editions, including New York City, London, San Francisco, Paris and Amsterdam, feature a variety of maps and ratings, along with discounts on attractions and restaurants.

▪ LMT (Last Minute Travel): This app offers savings of as much as 60 percent on hotels, flights, car rentals, tourist destinations and sporting events in 4,500 cities worldwide.

▪ Hotels Now: For travelers brave enough to jet off to Europe without knowing where they’ll stay when they arrive, Hotels Now features last-minute offers for same-day hotel bookings in 100 European cities.

▪ Hipmunk: This app searches for the lowest airfare prices and lists last-minute hotel rooms that are as much as 60 percent off.

▪ LateRooms: A hotel booking app lets you search and book rooms in hotels, B&Bs, luxury spas and country mansions around the world at savings of up to 75 percent.