But what about the apps on your smartphone? They can make the difference between a fantastic holiday and a so-so one.
To help, we’ve picked out some of the best choices to install in advance.
It’s not one of Google’s most well-known apps, but it’s useful when you’re out and about in a strange city: Field Trip can pop up with nearby places of interest covering everything from restaurants to architectural sites of note, pulled from a variety of sources online. You can customise the app to only show places you’re interested in (whether parks or bars) and it can be a real timesaver when exploring. Free on Android and iOS.
TripIt is a personal travel organiser: the idea is, you send over all of your booking emails and information, and it magically arranges them into an itinerary for you, which you can access from anywhere. It covers hotels, flights, events, car rentals and much more besides, and you can upgrade to a pro version of the app if you want to get live travel information and other assorted extras. Free on Android, BlackBerry, iOS and Windows Phone.
There’s no shortage of weather apps out there if you want to get a decent forecast for your travels, but few go into the kind of detail that Dark Sky does. From radar maps to hour-by-hour precipitation forecasts, it’s impressive in both its accuracy and its comprehensiveness. It can act as your own personal weather station too. Perhaps the only downside is you can only get it on iPhones and iPads. £2.99 on iOS.
Hotel Tonight is worth a look over the glut of other similar hotel booking apps for a number of reasons: it’s speedy and slick, it can occasionally get you a discount on your stay, and its reviews hit just the right balance between brevity and usefulness. If you do reserve a room then the booking process is simple and straightforward, which isn’t always the case with apps like this. Free for Android, iOS and Windows Phone.
So you’re heading off on holiday, but you don’t speak a word of the language — and there’s nowhere near enough time to take a crash course. That’s where TripLingo can help, bringing you the key phrases you’re going to need, together with a pronunciation guide and the option to connect to a live translator. There are other useful tools here, including a tip calculator and safety advice. Free for Android and iOS.
Getting from one side of a city to the other can be a challenge at the best of times, and it’s even more problematic when you’re in a place you don’t know well. Citymapper brings with it a comprehensive set of tools for navigating cities using trains, trams, buses, bikes, taxis, ferries and even your own two feet, with real-time data included. All it really needs is support for more cities. Free on Android and iOS.
The time you spend at the airport can be the most stressful time of your whole trip, so make use of SeatGuru to reduce your blood pressure levels. The app helps you check the status on your flight, pick your seat on the aeroplane, and get discounts on your travel as well. Over 100 airlines are supported and you can tap into the collective wisdom of 45,000 passenger reviews as well. Free on Android and iOS.
A mapping app can really come in handy when you’re travelling — particularly if there’s some driving involved — and Here Maps from Nokia is one of the best options out there. It’s extensive offline capabilities mean you can drive around without incurring hefty charges on your data bill, and more than 100 countries are supported. Public transport timetable data is included too. Free on Android, iOS and Windows Phone.
It’s one of the most well-known travel sites out there, so you’ve probably already heard of TripAdvisor. What you might not know is there are mobile apps available too — check reviews, photos and maps on the go, and save information for particular cities to your phone in advance (to save on data roaming charges). It’s good for finding things to do in a particular place too. Free on Android and iOS.
Recce provides a unique way of exploring whatever city you happen to find yourself in — it offers a 3D map that you can zoom in and out of, complete with information about notable landmarks, restaurants, museums and everything else you need to know about while you’re travelling. You can get weather information as well and keep a record of locations that you want to keep track of. Free on Android and iOS.
2014 AA Caravan & Camping Guide
You’ll find a few useful AA apps on your platform of choice, but if you’re touring around the United Kingdom this summer then the 2014 AA Caravan & Camping Guide is one of the most useful. You get detailed descriptions about some of the best sites in the country, written by qualified AA inspectors, and there’s a useful checklist of facilities (like Wi-Fi and provision for pets) at each location as well. Free on Android and iOS.
The Kindle app isn’t just for your holidays, of course, but having some spare reading material around can help pass the time on those long journeys or days on the beach. You don’t need to have a physical Kindle ereader to use the associated app, but if you do then your reading progress is synced across all of the devices you sign in on. There’s a library of 1.5m ebooks to pick from. Free on Android, BlackBerry, iOS and Windows Phone.
Viator is another app to help you do more when you get to your location of choice: you can use it to browse through more than 20,000 tours, activities and attractions and make bookings right in the app too. Whether you’re checking out a place in advance or you’re trying to find something diverting once you get there, Viator can help you make the most of your trip. Free on Android and iOS.
You’re probably already well aware of Instagram, but the update pushed out last month makes it even more useful for travellers — you can now search around for other people’s pictures based on a particular location. Add to that the ability to enhance your own travel photos with some gorgeous-looking filters, and it’s a must-have app for anyone heading away. Free on Android, iOS and Windows Phone.
You never know when a currency converter app is going to come in helpful on holiday. It can assist you in working out how quickly you’re blowing through your vacation budget, show you the real price of the trips and trinkets you’re buying, and more besides. There are a bunch to choose from, but XE Currency is one of the best there is — and it works offline too. Free on Android, BlackBerry, iOS and Windows Phone.