Your guide to apps, websites, and other tools for getting you planning and excited about your next travel trip, whenever that may well be.
If you’re one of the many whose travel hopes were crushed this year, you’ve likely spent most of lockdown day-dreaming about summer 2021 (I certainly have). I think it’s fair to say 2020 has been quite the downer for all our travel plans and aspirations. Flights cancelled, countries boarded off, and fear of compromising our, or a loved ones, health.
If you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ll have had plenty of time on your hands to daydream about where you’d rather be. Maybe it’s backpacking around South-East Asia, road tripping down the American West Coast, or lying on a beach in Croatia.
Well, time to turn those daydreams into a practical reality, find the tools, and get planning and organising your travel trip (even if we can’t book the flights quite yet)!
Sygic Travel Maps
This is the ultimate accompaniment to your travel plans. Think Google Maps, but highlights places to see and visit, with loads of information, and the option to create detailed itineraries.
To be extra organised and safe, you can download the maps to view them offline, and even convert your completed itinerary to PDF. Sygic Travel Maps has travel guides for over 10,000 locations across the world, which you can save or add directly to your itinerary. As well as the fun stuff, you can search and input different transportation methods into your trip. That way, you always know exactly where you’re going and how you’re getting there. It also helps you figure out your timings by suggesting how long you may spend at a site, and how far sites are from one another.
If you want to get the absolute most out of your trips, waste no time and see as much as possible, Sygic Travel Maps is a must. We spoke to a traveler about how she used the app to organise her extensive road trip around Ireland.
Skyscanner and App In The Air
Flights are more often than not the bugbear of travel. Scarily high prices, coupled with confusing baggage allowance, and enormous airports to get lost in, doesn’t make for a fun time.
Here are two tools to help ease flight stress. To start, when researching and scouting out every airline in existence for the cheapest prices and best times, turn to Skyscanner. This excellent website acts as a comparison site, displaying all different flights from different airlines operating on your chosen travel time and destination. Its search options allow you to select all the airports in a city or area, increasing your options, and you can even do a ‘multi-city’ search for your more complex travel needs.
But what about easing the intense airport experience? Cue, App In The Air, your very own booking assistant, which reminds you of your gate, estimated time of arrival (ETA), your airline’s baggage rules, and more.
For the road trippers out there, we haven’t forgotten about you! We’re here to resolve your greatest car fear and worry – where to find reasonably priced petrol/diesel. Using your GPS or manually inputted postcode, GasBuddy searches your area and presents you with nearby fill-up stations and their prices. Simple, but so useful. An essential for road trip travel planning.
So you’ve planned and arrived safely at your destination, food is always going to be high on the agenda. You find a local bar/cafe/restaurant and enjoy a local delicacy, but then the bill arrives, and a vital cultural question arises. What is the tipping culture here? Will the waiter be offended if I don’t tip, or do tip?!
Thank goodness for GlobeTips, which does exactly what it says on the tin. It delivers key information on how to tip different services in different countries, from restaurants to taxis to tour guides. It also has a handy calculator, for working out and splitting your bill and tips, and handling sales tax.
Like GlobeTips, SPLITTR helps you split bills between multiple people, but on a whole new scale. Perfect for planning big group travel holidays, simply input your various activity, transport and accommodation costs as you go, who paid, and how much. At the end of the trip, the app will split all the bills, taking into account who has and hasn’t paid for various parts and provide an individual bill for each person.
It also integrates currency conversion, so no need to worry how strong or weak the Dollar is against the Pound. Just get on with enjoying your trip, and leave the numbers to this app.
Moving on from online tools, this is one for all of you out there who just, hate, packing. Much as the temptation is to leave it until the last minute, open your suitcase, and shove everything in sight into it, we all know that never ends well. If organisation doesn’t come naturally to you, give packing cubes a try.
Not only do they give your packing a bit of clarity and system, having one box for tops, another for bottoms, etc. But it makes finding that top you really want to wear tonight so much easier to find!
Social media travelling communities
Last but certainly not least, this couldn’t be an ultimate tool list for travelling if I didn’t mention the plethora of travel groups and communities on social media. If you’re even looking for advice, a friend in a foreign land, or even just some Insta inspiration, these are the places to go. Here are a few to get your started: