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Top apps for travel on a shoestring

A selection of applications that are useful when you're on the road.. and save you a few cents on the way.

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Topic: Developer
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1 of 10 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Name: Hostelworld

Developer: Web reservations Int.

Compatibility: iOS | Android

Hostelworld is a service to book cheap accomodation. Hostels, camping sites, bed and breakfasts or budget hotels can be searched and booked. When I backpacked over several years I used Hostelworld to book a bed for the night on the fly, and peer reviews help you find the best rates and locations.

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2 of 10 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Name: Free Wi-Fi finder

Developer: JiWire

Compatibility: iOS 

A quick and easy way to find Wi-Fi hotspots, this app uses your phone's GPS system to hook into a database of free Internet spots. 

The database is updated daily, and over 145,000 locations worldwide are currently stored.

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3 of 10 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Name: Skype

Developer: Skype

Compatibility: iOS | Android

The Skype app will have you making calls around the globe with no fuss, and without picking up the bill for high roaming charge.

It's a free app that uses a Wi-Fi connection to make calls to anyone with a Skype username that you are connected with. In a call, you can swipe from the video call to access instant messaging, or view their profile.

If you want to call or text a number outside of Skype, then you can join a subscription service to make cheaper international calls.

Be careful of using Skype on any pay-as-you-go Internet connection, as it does (naturally) hog a vast amount of bandwidth.

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4 of 10 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Name: MetrO

Developer: Kinevia

Compatibility: iOS | Android

I've used this app many times around European jaunts, and it is a lifesaver (when my carrier chooses not to block my smartphone by accident). It's free, updated regulary and displays the transport networks of over 400 cities across the world. 

You don't need a network connection once the cities are installed, but if there are transport disruptions, updates can be found by turning on your Wi-Fi.

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5 of 10 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Name: Text+

Developer: GOGII

Compatibility: iOS | Android

A free but advert-supported app, this service allows you to send text messages in real-time as a group chat. In a nutshell, it is a chatroom, no matter what phone your friends use. A new feature is the ability to add voice message -- although I found the app useful based on its simplicity. 

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6 of 10 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Name: Gasbuddy

Developer: Gasbuddy

Compatibility: iOS | Android

Gasbuddy is a popular app which constantly recieves great reviews. It's a free way to find cheap gas stations on-the-go in the United States and Canada. 

The company update the app often, but also encourage a community through gas price reporting -- if a user reports a new bargain, then they get points towards competitions. 

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7 of 10 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Name: Couch surfing

Developer: Couchsurfing

Compatibility: iOS 

If you're really watching the pennies, Couch surfing is an online community of travelers who offer their couch when they're back home for a time, for free.

In the same way as a hostel or hotel, you can 'book' (request) a certain time or number of nights to 'surf' in someone's living room.

Each profile comes with ratings, peer reviews and comments on the stay, as well as location and surfer preferences.

I've used the service a few times when backpacking, and as long as you do your research, it's an easy way to find somewhere to stay for the night.  



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8 of 10 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Name: Kayak

Developer: Kayak

Compatibility: iOS | Android

Available as a free or pro version, this app gives you access to a search function and booking for flights, cars and hotels if there is a change of plan -- which can be expensive and heart-breaking if you're minding your budget.

The Kayak app is one of the more popular search functions available. It is possible to compare and book flights, check the status of your flight, manage a trip itinerary and find information including baggage fees and airline numbers.

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9 of 10 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Name: TripAdvisor

Developer: TripAdvisor

Compatibility: iOS | Android

Planning in advance, doing some research and booking beforehand can save you a small fortune on your next trip. Remaining one of the most popular travel apps, TripAdvisor includes a search and booking function, peer reviews, question and answers forums and deals.

On my last jaunt to Latvia, I used the app to get a cheap deal on a flight and worked out the location I wanted based on hotel reviews and local attractions. 

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10 of 10 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Name: Airport Zoom

Developer: Flightstats

Compatibility: iOS 

If you miss your flight, or its rescheduled or cancelling without you knowing, trying to get back on track can be a costly affair.

Apart from being midly addictive, Flightstats' Airport Zoom app lets you track craft by name or by airspace. Running late? Use the free app to calculate how quickly you need to dash to the airport.

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