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13 Free Travel Apps to Help You Plan, Organise and Enjoy your Holiday

You’re thinking about a holiday. And if you weren’t, you are now. Hey, you work hard, you deserve a holiday – and we want to help you plan and enjoy it. Not directly, but by providing you with a list of apps that will help you do everything from booking flights and accommodation to communicating with the locals when you get to your destination and documenting the whole trip to make your social media friends jealous.

As your phones and tablets are filled with enough bloatware as it is, we’ve focussed this list on apps that we think you’ll actually use and benefit from. Enjoy! 

1. Skyscanner

iOS / Android

skyscanner-app

The most important part of any holiday is getting there and Skyscanner does a pretty good job at helping you do this cheaply. Whether you’re flying across the country or across the world, this flight comparison app is the best around. Find low cost flights from dozens of airlines in just a few clicks and book straight from your smartphone, with no fees. Travelling the world by air has never been easier… so long as you have the cash.

2. AirBnB

iOS / Android

airbnb-app

Hotels can be great, but they often miss the comforts of home. Of course, going on holiday makes it impossible to enjoy the comforts of your own home, but Airbnb makes it possible to enjoy somebody else’s. The app has two million listings in more than 34,000 cities, all of which are sublets – rooms in people’s actual homes or, in some cases, their full property. Finding long and short-term accommodation can be done in just a few simple taps and you can book and interact with hosts directly from your device. What’s more, if you happen to have extra space in your own home, you can open it up to travellers and earn some extra cash by using Airbnb to advertise, approve and get acquainted with guests. 

3. Duolingo

iOS / Android

duolingo-app

We’d all love to be able to arrive in another country and interact with locals in their own language, rather than talk in a louder, slower and simplified version of English that is backed up by hand gestures. Duolingo can go some way towards helping you do this. They say learning is easier when it’s fun and this app is a blast. You learn by playing games – practising new words and answering questions. It’s bright, colourful and completely free. Students and would-be travellers use it in their millions, with great results. If you’d like to learn Spanish, French, Italian, German, Dutch, Portuguese, Irish, Danish, Russian, Ukrainian, Swedish, Polish, Turkish, Esperanto or English this is the place to start. 

4. Google Translate

iOS / Android

google-translate-app

What you don’t learn using Duolingo can be blagged with Google Translate. As with most Google apps, this is really easy to use, letting you type to translate in 90 different languages. There are a few other nifty features too, including the ability to draw characters with your finger instead of using a keyboard, use your camera for instant translation of signs, and converse hands-free by talking into your device. If you’re a typical Brit abroad, you’ll find this app very useful indeed. 

5. TripIt: Trip Planner

iOS / Android

tripIt-app

Planning is the key to success. Once you’re all booked up for your holiday, you’ll need to get your itinerary in order. If you use Google Apps, plans can be seamlessly synced with TripIt, if not, it’s easy to input them manually. From the well-designed interface, you can keep track of all your travel confirmations, get directions and maps for destinations and sync plans with your smartphone calendar, so you always know where you should be and when.

This free version of TripIt features ads. They aren’t too annoying, but if they become an issue, consider paying the 83p for the full ad-free version.

6. XE Currency

iOS / Android

xe-currency-app

How much is your Great British pound worth on the continent? XE Currency is the best way to find out. Convert your currency into any other currency in the world on your phone, tablet or Android Wear device. XE Currency is the most popular currency calculator on the market. It’s accurate and trusted by millions. While you probably won’t be interested in checking historical rates or the value of precious metals too often, it’s an app you need to get the most bang for your buck. 

7. TripAdvisor

iOS / Android

tripadvisor-app

TripAdvisor needs little introduction. It’s the world’s largest travel site, used by 350 million people every month. This app puts all the functionality of the TripAdvisor website in your pocket, helping you plan and book your perfect trip. Find the best hotels, restaurants and attractions based on millions of traveller reviews, book travel and accommodation, download city maps, write your own write your own reviews – if we were to recommend only one travel app, this would be it.

8. Time Out: Discover Your City

iOS / Android

time-out-app

Looking to maximise your time in a new city? Time Out is the perfect app for inspiration. The leading authority on city events, attractions, shows, bars and restaurants, this tidy app allows you to create a customisable travel guide, easily discover what’s going on near you and share your findings on social media. There are over 30 of the world’s best cities to discover, with new guides added regularly.    

9. Splitwise

iOS / Android

splitwise-app

There’s always that one mate that’s a bit of a cheapskate; trying to get away without paying for a drink here, chipping in a few quid short on a meal there. You know the type. Well their antics aren’t going to fly with Splitwise. As long as you have this app on your phone, everyone will know who paid what and who owes who. If you’re travelling in a group, make sure you have this app

10. Citymapper

iOS / Android

citymapper-app

Public transport is always the best way to navigate a big city. Figuring out how to use a transport system, however, is more work than any traveller should have to endure – you’re on HOLIDAY for Christ sake! Fortunately, for us smartphone and Android Wear owners, there is Citymapper – the ultimate real-time transport app, capable of getting you where you need to be with minimum fuss. Plan every A to B, quickly and easily across every mode of transport. Most of the world’s major cities are included, with new destinations being added all the time. 

11. Lancaster Sun Timer

iOS / Android

lancaster-sun-timer-app

You don’t have to be a factor 50-wearing ginger to need Lancaster’s Sun Timer app. The sun takes no prisoners. If you don’t respect it, you’ll frazzle. This app lets you indicate your location, SPF level and how you typically tan based on your skin type, and provides you with an ideal exposure time. When that time runs out, the app will notify you to remind you to reapply your sun cream or find shade. If you plan on sunbathing, Sun Timer is an essential companion. 

12. Bonjournal

iOS

bonjournal-app

Before smartphones, the equipment needed to document a holiday required a suitcase of its own. Now, with Bonjournal you can collect and share your stories and pictures in a single narrative. Bonjournal’s best feature is its simplicity. The app is beautifully designed and incredibly easy to use. Journeys can be created with or without an internet connection, shared across social media and exported as PDFs. You can also explore the travel experiences of other users to find inspiration for your own trips. The only real downside to Bonjournal is that it's currently iOS only and there are a lot of Android users out there.

The best alternative to Bonjournal in Google Play is probably Journey, which is very similar in its premise and equally as aesthetically pleasing to look at. 

13. WifiMapper

iOS / Android

wifimapper-app

If you attempt to use 3G or 4G internet abroad, prepare to take out a bank loan to pay your mobile bill when you return home. Instead, download Wifimapper and track down a free Wi-Fi hotspot. There are hundreds of millions of them around the world, this app helps you find them easily and share your favourites with the Wifimapper community.

You’re thinking about a holiday. And if you weren’t, you are now. Hey, you work hard, you deserve a holiday – and we want to help you plan and enjoy it. Not directly, but by providing you with a list of apps that will help you do everything from booking flights and accommodation to communicating with the locals when you get to your destination and documenting the whole trip to make your social media friends jealous.

As your phones and tablets are filled with enough bloatware as it is, we’ve focussed this


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