Travel emergencies do happen, and sometimes they involve having to book a hotel room for the night unexpectedly. A lot of online sites seem to balk at booking rooms the same day (let alone at the very hour) you need one, but Hotel Tonight is designed to do just that. It tracks vacancies in most major markets and puts a list of available rooms at your fingertips. Rooms can be booked from your device, sometimes at a discount.
This flight tracker app is great both for travelers and those who are picking them up at the airport: Enter a flight number and see up-to-the-minute departure or arrival status. FlightAware is also helpful when you're anticipating a tight connection: While taxiing to the arrival gate, check the latest departure time of your next flight — and map out your walking route to the gate on a map of the terminal. Plus, for those of us who never quite believe it when the gate agent says our late-arriving plane is "on the runway," you can type in that flight's number to get its exact location and arrival time.
Even the busiest restaurants have low periods, and through this app many of them offer you a discount of up to 35 percent just for coming in off-peak. Make your reservation through Savored and, when it's time to pay the bill, the discount will be taken off automatically — no awkward coupon exchange or reminder needed (but remember to tip based on the full amount).
This one's a little less practical than the others, but if you're a travel dork like I am, you'll enjoy it. FlightBoard turns your phone screen into the flight board of any major airport around the world. Not only do you get to ponder all the amazing places people are going, but you can also test your knowledge of airport codes — which, I know, is really dorky. Those three little letters can embrace a city's entire history. Beijing's airport, for example got its code, PEK, when the West called the city Peking. And Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City is signified SGN, from the time when it was known to a generation of Vietnam-era veterans as Saigon.
Samantha Brown, a TV host and blogger at samantha-brown.com, has visited 220 cities in 49 countries. She is AARP's travel ambassador.