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Travel Guide - Aug 31, 2017

Awesome apps and websites for last-minute travel

No need to panic when planning a sudden trip. These great resources are here to help.

Going somewhere on short notice? Whether you’re hunting for last-minute deals or just living life large, these apps and websites will help you get the details right.

FLIGHTS, HOTELS AND PACKAGES

Kayak

Kayak scans hundreds of sites for flights, hotels and last-minute package deals. (Feeling extra adventurous? Name your budget and Kayak Explore offers destinations.) Once you’ve booked, the mobile app organizes your travel plans and provides updates on your flight. Available for iOS (including Apple Watch) and Android.

Hopper

Lots of mobile apps help you find and book flights, but this one also predicts when flight prices will be cheapest, with 95% accuracy (hooray for big data!). Available for iOS and Android.

HotelTonight

Find last-minute lodgings and score a sweet deal with this free app for iOS and Android. Thousands of quality hotels across the Americas, Europe and Australia list their unsold rooms, which you can book up to a week in advance, or as late as 2 a.m. the same day. HotelQuickly works much the same way, except it covers the Asia-Pacific region. Both apps are available for iOS and Android.

Roomer

Roomer bills itself as “The place where people book hotel rooms from other people who had to cancel their trips.” Bummer for them, blessing for you! Find a booking, submit your details and let Roomer handle the rest. And if your plans change (bad luck, mate), recoup some cash by selling off your non-refundable room.

Airbnb

Book a suite tout de suite on this popular rental marketplace. You’ll find everything from humble hostels to swanky sleeps (including more than 1,400 castles) among its three million listings, scattered across nearly 200 countries.

PASSPORTS, VISAS AND TRAVEL HEALTH

Passports

Processing a Canadian passport application takes up to 20 business days, and that doesn’t include mailing. Some passport offices have expedited service. For urgent service (by the end of the next business day) or express service (two to nine business days), you must apply in person, provide proof of travel and pay extra fees ($110 and $50, respectively) on top of the passport fee. For emergency service on weekends and holidays, call 1-800-567-6868 to see if you qualify, and expect to pay an extra $335. The usual requirements (application form, photos, ID) apply.

Visas

Before you click “pay” on that online booking, check to see if you need a visa (tourist, business or otherwise). Some countries issue visas upon arrival, but usually you need to get one before leaving Canada. Requirements, fees and processing times vary – and that could put a damper on last-minute plans.

Travel Health

Travelling last-minute doesn’t mean travelling recklessly. Find out if your desired destination has recommended vaccines or medications, or if the Canadian government has issued health or security advisories. Heading to Africa or South America? Some countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination. And anytime you leave Canada, it’s a good idea to have travel insurance.

PACK LIKE A PRO

How to travel super-light

Packing light is both practical and thrifty, now that many airlines charge for your first checked bag. Find out how globe-trotting bloggers get around with just carry-on baggage: Indie Traveller, Her Packing List, Oneika the Traveller, Dan Flying Solo, Travel+Leisure (editors’ tips) and The Barefoot Nomad (tips for families).

PackPoint

This clever app builds a packing list based on your destination, your travel dates, your activities (like hiking, fancy dinner or travelling with a baby) and even weather forecasts. Download PackPoint for iOS and Android for free; the premium version (about $4) lets you customize templates and activities, and it works with Evernote and TripIt.

PLAN AS YOU GO

Lonely Planet Digital Guides

Get advice from the gurus at Lonely Planet. Their vast collection of travel guides is available in digital format. Download complete e-books or just the chapters you want.

Peek

Looking for awesome things to do? Keep research time to a minimum with Peek. This friendly website and iOS app offers a wide variety of handpicked activities, from sightseeing tours to scuba diving to cooking classes, in one place.

Citymaps

Citymaps isn’t just, well, a bunch of city maps. It’s an online community, and the app (for iOS and Android) helps you explore a new place with curated guides (which source info from reputable resources like Travel+Leisure) and maps created by locals. No access to data? You can use the maps offline.