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5 brilliant time-saving travel tools you should be using

Find a flight fast, grab some food, wait out that layover, and more with these specialized apps and sites.

5 brilliant time-saving travel tools you should be using
[Photo: Ashim D’Silva/Unsplash]

Travel apps and sites are plentiful, to be sure. But instead of creating a list of me-too offerings with overwhelming interfaces that try to be all things to all people, we thought we’d focus on a few hidden gems that do one thing, do it well, and save you time in the process. If you’re finally back in travel mode for work or play, give them a try.

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Flight Penguin

If you’re looking for the best prices on flights, you have no shortage of sites and services to help you do so.

However, the free and unique Flight Penguin—a free extension for Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and other web browsers based on Chromium technology—does things a bit differently.

Instead of relying on agreements with airlines to ingest flight pricing, which can be delayed, Flight Penguin pulls up-to-the-minute pricing directly from other sites in order to ensure the freshest results.

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Available flights are then presented in a visual timeline that shows price, flight time, layover information, and other data you can use to find the best option for you. It’s the polar opposite of the cluttered mess you’ll encounter on most other travel sites.

Flights can be sorted by pain, price, and convenience—a nod to the excellent but now defunct Hipmunk travel search engine. And if you liked Hipmunk, you’ll like Flight Penguin: Some of Hipmunk’s founders are the ones behind it.

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Grab

You’ve got a 30-minute layover, your connecting flight is on the other side of the airport, and you’re so hungry you could eat your own arm.

You could roll the dice and hope to find some random place with a short enough line that just so happens to be on the way to your connecting gate. Or you could just use Grab.

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Available at more than 60 airports worldwide, the app lets you pull up restaurant menus as you’re taxiing back to the gate, order and pay for the food from your phone, and then saunter right up to the counter and grab it instead of waiting in line.

As if that wasn’t convenient enough, it’s got direct integration with expense-report giant Concur—letting you forward meal receipts into your expense reporting system without the hassle of scanning them first.

Dayuse

What do you do when you’ve checked out of your hotel, you’ve got a 9 a.m. meeting with the client, it lasts an hour, and your flight out isn’t until 8 p.m.?

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Forget killing an entire day at the airport or trying to sight-see when you’ve got actual work to do. Instead, try renting a hotel room for the day without paying full fare. That’s the concept behind Dayuse, which cuts deals to fill hotel rooms during their daytime hours.

Instead of spending, say, $250 a night at the Westin, you can pay $100 to use a room between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Get a bit of work done, maybe take a quick nap, and then off to the airport you go.

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LoungeBuddy

OK, maybe you’re not keen on spending an entire day in a hotel. For that, there’s LoungeBuddy, which you can use to buy one-time access to airport lounges.

Book-able lounges are available in about 60 countries, and access runs about $40 to $50, depending on the airport. For a comfy chair, plus free snacks and beverages, that’s a small price to pay for a long layover.

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Cozycozy

There’s a never-ending supply of lodging sites out there, but Cozycozy does a great job at surfacing rentals from Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com, and handful of other sites.

Results are displayed on a helpful map along with their prices, and you can filter by hotels, vacation rentals, guesthouses and a handful of other property types.

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This is one-stop shopping for your next business trip or family vacation. It’s all under one roof, so to speak.

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