Technology has changed the face of travel, from apps that hail a cab when you find yourself lost in an unfamiliar city, to interactive destination guides in the palm of your hand. Every phase of your journey can be taken care of whilst you’re on the move, making travel easier than ever before. There are hundreds of apps out there designed to enhance your entire experience – making booking, planning and sharing every aspect of your trip a total breeze. Of course, we think the Secret Escapes app is great place to start…
The best apps for: before you go
When it comes to booking flights, there’s a lot to consider; from sociable take-off and landing times to layover waits, seat types and, of course, price. With a couple of dedicated apps in your pocket, this process becomes a whole lot easier. Take Skyscanner as a starting point; it searches all the major airlines’ websites, as well as online health pharmacy no prescription travel agents, for the lowest fares, so you don’t have to. You can search by a specific date, destination or time, or set a budget and see where it could take you over a given month. It’s a great all-rounder, whatever your circumstances.
If you live for bargains (don’t we all?), be sure to check out Hopper. This nifty little app offers an overview of when you can get the best fares on flights and highlights the best time to purchase them, saving users up to 40%. When you search your desired route, the app will tell you the lowest available price to purchase at that moment, it will also advise whether you should hold-out in order to get a better deal, and when you should book your flights by, so that you don’t miss out on savings.
With the date, time and price sorted to suit, you’d be right for feeling pretty pleased with yourself, but why stop there? You can move a notch further up the smug scale with SeatGuru by TripAdvisor. This gem of an app is designed for leg-room lovers and the like. It puts 700 colour-coded seat maps (along with over 50,000 airplane seat reviews from users) in the palm of your hand, giving you all the knowledge you’ll need to book the best seats available on your flight, along with traveller reviews and photos. There’s no need to endure cramped transatlantic travel again when you know which aircraft and which seats offer more comfort and space.
You can lend yourself a hand when it comes to packing too – there are a handful of apps out there the ease the process. GetPacked asks a series of questions about you and your trip in order to generate a tailored check-list that you can work your way through. Or, you can create your own categorised lists with TripList, which also offers handy notifications for due dates (such as your online check-in deadline) through the Travel To-Do Manager facility.
The best apps for: planning an itinerary
Kick off your travel planning portfolio with TripIt – a clever app that stores all your travel plans in one place, so you can do away with the handbag filing “system”. All users have to do is forward their travel documentation to a TripIt e-mail address (for example hotel reservations, flight confirmations or car rental receipts) and TripIt transforms it all into a magical, master itinerary. The app is free but the Pro version has some snazzy features, such as real-time flight alerts, reward-program tracking and VIP travel benefits. What’s more, this can be viewed both on and offline.
Planning that iconic American road trip has been made temptingly easy thanks to Roadtrippers. With this app, users input their start and end points (plus dates if you have them) and the app will throw up a suggested driving route, along with hotels, attractions, natural wonders and ‘weird stuff’ you can choose to encounter along the way. Better yet, it tells you how many miles you’ll cover, gives you an estimated fuel cost and indicates how long it takes to drive the distance. If you lean towards intrepid but enjoy the security of planning, Roadtrippers makes for an excellent resource.
Weather can make or break a holiday, so make sure you’re prepared with AccuWeather. This go-to weather app allows you to view forecasts for multiple locations at once (great if you’re city hopping or road tripping) and allows users to view the next day’s forecast by the hour; handy knowledge that’ll see you teaming botanical garden visits with sunny afternoons and must-see museum trips with rainy mornings. To tighten up your itinerary even further, try Due – an app that’s designed to remind with an alert function and an easy-to-use interface.
The best apps for: when you’re away
Now that you’ve pitched up perfectly in your desired destination, it’s time to explore. Wikitude harnesses all the information Wikitravel holds, and displays an augmented reality to users allowing annotations to appear over points of interest within your camera display. AroundMe adopts a similar concept but highlights the useful stuff like bars, cafes and hotels (with handy filter views), whilst Cuppings is a coffee enthusiasts must have – it highlights your nearest spot for a caffeine fix and shows you how to get there on a map. Find. Eat. Drink. uses recommendations from its network of food professionals to create an excellent edit of some of the best restaurants and bars, which you can curate into customised lists, whilst LocalEats highlights industry-rated independents, so you don’t have to trawl through the mediocre to find an decent dining spot.
Citymapper needs no introduction when it comes to helping you get around, although it covers just 31 popular cities (some in more details than others) it’s well worth downloading if you’re lucky enough to be in one of them. If you get stuck, Google Translate is a handy app to have, as you can translate both text and voice easily and, if you’re not au fait with the local accent yet, its own voice function is a good fall back. Avoid further faux pas with Tipping Bird, which recommends a tip amount for typical situations, such as a restaurant or a taxi, whilst Trip Splitter makes it easy to monitor who owes what if you’re travelling as a group.
You can leave the weighty guide books at home, as some of the most popular publications have created their own apps. Wallpaper* City Guides offers an unrivalled insight into the architecture, art and design of some of the world’s favourite cities and the app offers extra features, such as image galleries and in-app web browsing. What’s more, users need only tap the screen to call the restaurant their looking at in order to book a table or to locate it on a map, and the built in GPS means you can easily locate a Wallpaper* recommendation nearby. Similarly, the Lonely Planet app offers handy offline maps, allows you to find places with smart filtering and to save them with bookmarking. Time Out makes for an easy go-to (as long as you’re in one of the cities it covers) and you can put a UNESCO World Heritage site in your palm with their dedicated app, which gives you detailed information on over 900 of their sites – best enjoyed when you’re standing right in front of one.
Finally, there’s no excuse for not sending a postcard, with a range of apps that let you build your own. With Postagram and Touchnote, you can upload your own photo, input your message and have the result sent in postcard form to your friends and family back home. For a more up-to-date memory of your trip, look no further than BonJournal. If you feed this sleek-as-you-like app your photographs, thoughts and diary entries, it will spit them all out in the form of a chic, minimalist journal which you can enjoy as a website, or savour in an aesthetically pleasing PDF – perfect for e-mail. Better still, you can use it offline, so you don’t have to waste precious holiday-time looking for a Wi-Fi spot.
Click here to join Secret Escapes and save up to 70% on luxury hotels and holidays.