13 brilliant travel planning apps & websites
We’ve never been more spoilt for choice when it comes technology to make our holidays hassle free.
From saving time and money to helping you sniff out the trendiest places in an unfamiliar city, the following travel planning apps are absolute essentials for your next trip abroad.
For plotting your route: Rome2Rio
Few websites are as comprehensive when it comes to planning an itinerary as Rome2Rio. Introduce two destinations in the search terms and it’ll show you how to get from A to B, including travel times and estimated fares – even if they’re as distant as Rome from Rio.
What’s more, you can now book flights, accommodation and car rentals through their partner websites. Available on desktop, Android and iOS.
For the best range of accommodation: Booking.com
There are plenty of hotel booking sites on the web, but few have quite the same variety as Booking.com.
From five-star boutique hotels in the Atacama Desert to a house boat in Amsterdam, this site offers a selection of accommodation to suit all budgets and tastes. Available on desktop, Android and iOS.
For luxury package deals: Secret Escapes
This members-only site is free to join and provides the ultimate in travel inspiration. If you fancy a 5-star break but don't want to shell out full price, you'll love the deals here. Secret Escapes work directly with hotels and operators to provide exclusive deals and prices for incredible packages, from flights and hotels in the Tuscan countryside to glamourous tours and resorts in the UK and USA.
For booking the cheapest flights: Hopper
Grabbing a bargain on your flights is the ultimate holiday win, and no one helps you achieve this better than Hopper.
This website-turned-essential-app highlights not only the cheapest dates to fly but analyses data from billions of flights to identify exactly when you should buy, sending push notifications to your mobile when prices drop. Get it on Android and iOS.
For keeping track of reservations: Google Trips
Assimilating all of your travel plans can be a job in itself, which is where Google Trips comes in.
By automatically collating your bus, train, flight and hotel reservations from your Gmail account, this app keeps your complete itinerary at your fingertips – and is even available offline. It's available on Android and iOS.
For packing your suitcase: Packpoint
Want your own loyal butler in app form? Look no further than Packpoint. While it won’t actually pack your suitcase, it will analyse the weather forecast for the dates you’re travelling and generate a personal packing checklist to make sure you’re prepared for rain or shine.
You can also indicate the types of activities you’ll be doing and this handy app will adapt the list to suit your style of getaway. Get it on Android and iOS.
For booking European trains: Loco2
Nothing is as romantic as exploring Europe by train and Loco2’s efficiency with planning and booking a route across the continent gives you all the more time to enjoy the ride.
Not only does it help you find the best train routes within countries and across international borders, but you can make reservations and set up alerts to be notified when tickets become available to book for future trips. You can make use of it on desktop, Android and iOS.
On the road
For getting from A to B, fast: Citymapper
Citymapper might have started life as London’s number one navigation app, but it’s now the fastest way of planning your route around the 39 countries it now covers.
Chewing up real-time data and timetables, this clever app spits out different ways of getting to your destination, offering a range of transport types and price estimates. Available on desktop, Android and iOS.
For enjoying your surroundings: Sidekix
While CityMapper opts for the quickest route, Sidekix intentionally doesn’t. Instead, it plots getting from A to B via the most interesting stops along the way, all matched to your interests.
Using recommendations from local bloggers in the know, the app plans a personalised walking tour that might take you to a range of trendy new restaurants and bars or see you spend an afternoon pinging between the area’s top cultural attractions. Use it on Android and iOS.
For keeping track of your spending: Tricount
Nothing takes the fun out of a holiday more than arguing over who paid for the last round of cervezas. Luckily, Tricount makes this a thing of the past.
Each member of your party can access a running tab to input what they’ve spent on communal purchases. At the end of the trip, the app tots up the balances, splits the bill and works out exactly who owes whom and how much – leaving you to settle the bill quickly and easily. Available on Android and iOS.
For surviving another language: Google Translate
If there’s one app you need for hurdling language barriers, it’s Google Translate.
Not only can it translate words that have been typed in, but the split-screen conversation mode translates speech automatically, allowing you to ask for directions or even get chatting to a local with fewer difficulties.
Even more impressive is the live camera feature, where the app instantly translates foreign text into your native language. Use it on Android and iOS.
For booking the best European restaurants: thefork
Follow your nose and stay ahead of the crowd when eating out in Europe with Trip Advisor’s new app, thefork. Its curated list of restaurants in Europe and Brazil harness the power of the millions of reviews on Trip Advisor’s main site, and mean finding the tastiest place for dinner is only a click away.
You can also reserve directly through the app and enjoy exclusive user discounts. Use it on desktop, Android and iOS.
Just for fun
For photo fun: Boomerang from Instagram
Uploading photos to Instagram remains many travellers’ favourite way of documenting their trip, but the Boomerang add-on is guaranteed to make your moments – and Instagram Stories – even more entertaining.
This app films short videos that loop backwards and forwards, turning even the act of walking down the street into a moment of bouncy creativity. You can also save the images to upload to other social networks later on. Get it on Android and iOS.
For the perfect time lapse: Lapse It
Share the delights of that idyllic sunset on a far-flung beach with your friends at home with Lapse It. You can shoot time-lapse videos, edit everything from the focus mode to the white balance and even add audio, meaning that turning an unforgettable moment into a video has never been simpler. Available on Android and iOS (free or pro £2.99).
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