Best Travel Apps for Cheap Travel

As a traveling foodie blogger, I spend about as much time traveling as I do at my place in Los Angeles. l also work a 9-5 and don’t have unlimited travel funds (but wouldn’t that be dreamy…). So I am all about finding a good travel deal to maximize my weekends using the best travel apps to make it all possible.

I get asked constantly what apps I use to find 4-star resorts at 50% off, free flights, and cash back. So this post will tell you all of my favorite travel apps and how to use them to travel boujee on a budget.

Cell phone with a mobile app showing food and a map

This post is all about the best travel apps to help you save time and money.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.

Best Travel Apps for Cheap Travel


  • USE IT FOR: Hotels, Flight Price Predictions, Car Rentals
  • PRO TIP: Enable notifications! Watch for flash sales for the best deals.
  • PROMO CODE: Use code HANNAHF5WD for 10% off Hotels

This one is probably my favorite app! I’ve used Hopper to find some insane deals like FREE flights and ridiculously cheap hotels.

They have a Flight Watch tool with Price Prediction to monitor flights and learn the best time to book. Or you can use the Price Freeze tool to lock in the current rate for a period of time. If prices go up, Hopper will cover the difference up to a set amount. If prices go down, you pay the lower fare. No more over-analyzing and second-guessing your choices.

example of a deal from hopper, screenshot of the app

Keep an eye on flash sales because Hopper runs super discounts on select destinations and resorts from time to time. I once booked the MGM Grand for $0 because Hopper had a $50 off sale for all hotels in Vegas, and it was $49/night. I also once got a free flight to hop islands from Maui to Oahu using a similar flash sale.

Hopper App banner

Hopper only exists as a mobile app. You won’t find a desktop version of it, so go download the app now and enable notifications so you know when their best sales are running!


  • USE IT FOR: Hotels, Car Rentals
  • PRO TIP: Use Priceline Express Hotel Deals, earn cash back on Rakuten

I use Priceline to book MOST of my hotel stays. And here’s why…

They have Priceline Express deals in most cities, where you can find mystery rooms called Express deals for up to 50% off. They keep the name of the hotel hidden, but you can see the location, star rating and amenities. If you’re flexible, this is definitely the way to go.

Screenshot of the Priceline app Express Deals showing a 4 star hotel in the Union Square area for $144 instead of $332

After staying at nearly all of the Las Vegas hotels on the Strip for a unique work/travel situation, I earned Priceline Gold status, which also gives me better rates on most rooms. But you only need 5 stays per year to reach Gold Status, or 25 per year to reach Platinum. I’ve had friends ask me to check my rate because it’s far better than what they see in their app.

The bottom line… loyalty pays off!

Another perk of booking on Priceline is that you can earn cash back on Rakuten for every booking. And if you’re not using Rakuten, you’re literally leaving money on the table. I’ll talk more about this one later.

Download the app


  • USE IT FOR: Activities, Spa Treatments, Restaurants, Excursions
  • PRO TIP: Sign up for alerts to get notified of new deals in destinations you’re planning

The only thing I use TravelZoo for is local deals! Whenever I book a trip to a new destination, I check out the TravelZoo local deals for ideas on activities, hotel stays, spa treatments and restaurants at reduced prices.

Screenshot of the TravelZoo travel app local deals including a San Diego brunch for 2 at $90 instead of $190

You can also opt in for updates so TravelZoo will let you know when new deals are added in that area.

Download the app

4. WAY

  • USE IT FOR: Airport Parking
  • PRO TIP: Look for a promo code via Google search

Way is my favorite app for airport and long-term parking. Believe me, I’ve searched far and wide, and these rates are the best out there.

The app is easy to use and you can book quickly and see ratings and photos of each spot.

You can almost always find a promo code to save a little extra, and Way emails them to me all the time. And Way is also part of Rakuten, so you can earn cash back!

Screenshot of the Way travel app showing discounted parking near LAX
Download the app


  • USE IT FOR: Finding cheap flights, travel inspiration for flexible destinations and dates.
  • PRO TIP: Try searching “Whole Month” and/or “Everywhere” to find the best deals.

If you know me at all, you know that I’m a Southwest girlie through and through. My husband and I have flown free (minus taxes/fees) on Southwest for 4+ years now using the Companion Pass and reward points. So it’s rare that I venture out to other airlines. But I love Skyscanner for destinations that Southwest doesn’t offer or when flying international.

It’s also great when your plans are flexible! For example, we had some time off around Thanksgiving so I searched LAX to “Everywhere” and found super cheap non-stop flights to Stockholm for under $350/person roundtrip. In 10 minutes I had a super cheap international trip booked without endless searching, and we had the best time!

screenshot of the SkyScanner travel app showing flights starting at $37 in the US from LAX
Download the app


  • USE IT FOR: Exploring transportation options and cost

Do you ever find yourself wondering the best route and/or cheapest route from one place to another? Rome 2 Rio is my go-to app when I’m unsure if it makes sense to take a bus, drive, grab an Uber, or maybe find another route I hadn’t considered.

I like how they break down the options with travel time and pricing, making it easy to weigh the pros and cons.

Screenshot of the Rome2Rio travel app
Download the app


  • USE IT FOR: Cash back on travel and other purchases
  • PRO TIP: Download the Chrome extension and the app so that it’s easy to claim cash back

I’ve earned over $500 in cash back on Rakuten so far, and growing (see proof in the screenshot below).

Travel is one of the many categories that you can earn cash back from on Rakuten. All you have to do is register for an account and then click on the site through Rakuten before you check out. Easy peasy!

My favorite sites on Rakuten are Priceline,, Expedia, Groupon, VRBO, and Uber.

Download the app


  • USE IT FOR: Vacation homes, traveling with large groups, and unique stays that aren’t hotels
  • PRO TIP: Use Rakuten to earn cash back

If you’re traveling with a group, or looking for vacation rentals, I’ve found that VRBO has the best variety and is easy to use. Plus, VRBO is on Rakuten for cash back!

Download the app


  • USE IT FOR: Finding cheap flights, signing up for Rapid Rewards promotions, and traveling with a companion free for a year with Companion Pass

I couldn’t write this post and not mention my all time favorite travel hack… free flights on Southwest! My husband and I have both flown for free (just $5.60 in taxes each way) for the last several years and we take an average of 20 flights per year. 

You can read all about how we use our Southwest Rapid Rewards Card with Companion Pass in my blog post How to Fly Free

I’m always searching for cheap flights or signing up for Rapid Rewards bonuses like you see in the photo via my Southwest app.

Screenshot of the Southwest mobile app promotions


  • USE IT FOR: Discounted food and treat boxes, while doing your part to reduce waste!
  • PRO TIP: Check the app before you go and favorite the ones you like so it’s easy to see if they become available. 

As a traveling foodie, I love to see what shows up in the Too Good to Go app in new cities I visit. 

A friend showed it me, and the concept is pretty brilliant. Restaurants, bakeries and grocery stores list boxes of unused food and baked goods that would otherwise get thrown away. You can reserve a box for a fraction of the price, usually around $3.99 – $7.99/box. 

I even found Gwen on the app, a Michelin-rated restaurant near me in LA, owned by celebrity chef Curtis Stone. I scored a box of insanely delicious pastries, a beef pot pie and polish sausage rolls for under $10. 

The only downside is that availability can be slim, and because it’s leftovers you might have to snag it as a specific time, sometimes last minute. 

Download the app


  • USE IT FOR: Cheap bus fares

Flixbus can be a super convenient, and cheap way to travel. Personally, I don’t recommend it for trips over 3-4 hours. But for a super cheap trip when flying doesn’t make sense, it’s a good way to go. 

300x250 - Los Angeles to Las Vegas

We’ve used it to get to/from Las Vegas from Los Angeles or to get to New Orleans before departing on a cruise. It’s not luxury, but it works!

Download the app


  • USE IT FOR: Tours and activities
  • PRO TIP: Use the “Things to Do” tab for unique activities and tour ideas

I like TripAdvisor for searching things to do, and for seeing photos of restaurants and menus that other people post. It tends to be more of the raw photos vs staged, and I find it gives a good picture of what to expect! Especially for tours. 

There are usually a lot of helpful reviews that give an accurate description. I won’t name names… but there are other similar apps where I’ve found that the reviews might be bribed or faked and not always reflective of the real deal.

Download the app
Start saving your ideas


  • USE IT FOR: Last-minute hotel deals
  • PRO TIP: Use the Daily Drop to swipe once per day for an extra special deal. And be sure to download the app because some deals are better in the app vs the web version.

This app makes its way into my rotation when I’m searching for last-minute hotel deals. I find that it’s hit or miss on the rates whether they are better than Priceline or other sites. But they do allow you to swipe for an extra-special deal and sometimes you can score!

Screenshot of the Hotel Tonight app

We stayed at Mission Inn in Riverside using Hotel Tonight and got a killer deal for $100/night where rooms are normally double that.

The down side… you can never guarantee the room type. So if you’re wanting a room with two beds or a specific type, this site is not the best for you. 

Download the app


  • USE IT FOR: Discounted restaurants, activities and hotels
  • PRO TIP: On top of saving 20-60% or more, you can also use Groupon with Rakuten to score extra cash back!

An oldie, but still a goodie! Groupon has some deals that are too good to skip. From restaurants, activities, spas, and hotels, I’ve used Groupon for it all.

Search the cities you’re travel to for potential activities, or use the hotel tab to inspire your next getaway. 

Some of my favorite Groupon finds were $40 for $100 at Takami Sushi Bar in Los Angeles, 36% off tickets to Universal Studios Orlando, 50% off whale watching in Newport Beach, CA.

My only caution…. Make sure to do a little research before clicking purchase. Sometimes businesses that are struggling for business list Groupon deals to find customers, and they may appear better than they are in reality. It helps to cross-check the business on Yelp or other sources for reviews. 

Download the app

Posts you might like

7 Cheap Places to Travel in August

My Favorite Travel Tips

Flying Free on Southwest (minus taxes/fees)

7 Best Hotel Hacks for Saving Money

Which are the best travel apps for you?

So there you have it! These are the best travel apps that I use for traveling cheap.

How many of these have you used? How many apps did you download after reading?

I hope this gives you tools to travel well, travel often, and travel cheap. Drop me a note if you have questions and be sure to pin this post for later.

Happy travels!


Pin it for later!

Plate & Compass is a food and travel blog written by Hannah Falkosky. After quitting her job and spending 8 weeks in Europe on just a few thousand dollars, she found her love for budget travel and sharing tips to help others explore the world. She also spent 15 years working with award-winning chefs and developed a love for artful food and cocktails. Hannah is now based out of Los Angeles, and when she’s not traveling she makes it her mission to explore the best restaurants and cocktail bars while living life to the fullest.

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