Let’s face it – holidays can be logistically challenging, especially if a whole family is travelling together. Planning seems to get earlier every year, airlines’ rules get stricter (as we mentioned in our “ultimate packing” article), and then you’re expected to document it all on social media!
Thankfully, we live in a golden age of apps, and we can outsource much of the organisation to those little glowing computers in our pockets.
Here are some of the handiest, most informative and fun travel apps you can download before so much as pack a pair of shorts…
Tripit consolidates confirmation emails into one app. So, that means that your flight, vehicle rentals, accommodation bookings and other events (like restaurant or event bookings) all appear in single, chronological itinerary with real-time notifications. Clever!
One of the best-known online travel guides is also a very handy app. Yes, the well-known (sometimes controversial!) user reviews for sites, restaurants and attractions are here. And – for many places – it has booking buttons if you want to reserve a table. Our favourite feature is the travel ideas section, which combines ideas with maps so you can plan family day trips and excursions.
This travel guide mines information from millions of websites around the world, offering you comprehensive information for sites around the world. Long-term, you can add locations and restaurants to your to-see list. In the shorter term, its individual city guides have maps, recommendations and the ability to book a range of venues and restaurants.
This neat packing app has received several awards. Enter your destination, dates of journey and activities and it will generate a bespoke, customisable packing list. So, for instance, if you’re going to Galway in June, it would suggest you pack swimming trunks, raingear and a light jacket (among other items). The list expands if you’re taking a flight (boarding pass, for instance) and it takes weather forecasts for the region and dates into account. You can even tell it whether or not you’re travelling with a baby.
Packpoint can also be linked to the TripIt app.
There’s a good chance you’ve used XE Currency before if planning for a trip. Its app helps you check things on the go, instantly calculating the cost and comparing it with another currency. So, for example, if you’re from Ireland and holidaying in the UK (or vice versa) it’s a handy way of instantly comparing Euro to Pound. You can also use this app to transfer money.
Family holidays can sometimes run on a tight budget! This app tracks your day to day spending and is perfect for holidays as it can track across different currencies and it’s a spending diary/calendar. You can also add notes to pictures of what you spent money on (was that coffee really worth €4?). Plus, it gives you a breakdown of spending in a handy pie chart. Trabee is handy for business travelling too, incidentally.
On the road
Possibly an app that needs no introduction, Netflix is one of the most popular TV and movie streaming platforms in the world. For travelling, its best new feature is the ability to download content so you can view it offline – just the thing to reduce boredom on flights or long car journeys. (Recommended for passengers only!)
Waze is a real-time travel news app that informs drivers of traffic, parking, speed limits and directions. While technically it can be used while driving, it’s safer and more efficient if it’s referenced by the person in the passenger seat.
The most comprehensive online map, Google Maps also has its vast resources of online information at your disposal (from restaurant reviews to photographs and contact information to nearby venues). It’s also a good resource for public transport information, including live timetables. Google Maps is pre-loaded on many Android devices, but not Apple ones.
Rory’s Story Cubes
We love Rory’s Story Cubes. Like many of the best ideas, it’s simple but original. Nine cubes with a picture on each side are shown onscreen. Jumble them (by shaking your phone), and you’ve got the ingredients of a story. So, you might be looking at pictures of an airplane, a magnifying glass, a gun, a flower and a heart, for example. You can set it to different story styles (e.g. intergalactic, voyages, etc) and you can move the cubes into any order you want. This app (also available in offline, dice form) is popular with kids and creative writing teachers alike.
This is a fun way to combine and categorise those reams of pictures you take on holiday. Nutshell makes brief videos of your photos, allowing you to add text, emojis and animations. For social media fans, you can also share these little creations instantly on Facebook or Instagram. This app is currently only available for iPhone.
See you on the road!