Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Best Ever Travel Apps and Websites

Yes I know you all have your favourites -- but you never know maybe I have some that you haven't heard of. Below are a list of those which I use every time I am planning my trips --  remember these are my opinions only -- feel free to email your faves.  I use an iphone so I am unsure if there are android apps for the following. 

Airfares - KAYAK - I find most airline (and travel agents) websites to be pretty hopeless -- they are too clogged down with promotions and advertising and my itineraries never seem to match theirs (QANTAS is the worst one of all).  Enter KAYAK. I particularly like the mobile app.  It's fast and it covers the entire globe.  It also gives prices -- a couple of which beat those offered by my 'travel agent'--so they had to give me the Kayak price.  Cha-ching!

If you're a hound who needs to know where you are sitting, then SEAT GURU is for you.  I find they change the planes on me so often that it is just not worth the hassle. 

Hotels/Places to Stay.  HOTEL TONIGHT - this is my new favourite.It offers the lowest hotel prices - what's the catch?  You can only book that day -- yep it's to fill up the hotels for the night and so rather than go empty the hotels offer rooms as vastly reduced rates.  Obviously it's not ideal but if you are travelling offpeak or going somewhere not too busy then this is the way to save money  Another minus - it's USA mostly with a few major Candian and European cities.  Hint:  check it several times before you leave and if the same hotels are empty then you have an idea of your chances of snapping up an el cheapo room.  I'm going to use it in Los Angeles - or maybe not?  Am I too chicken?
TRIPADVISOR - yes it's an old favourite but when a hotel seems suspiciously cheap then it is always wise to read the trip advisor reviews.  I have found some great bargains there. Be aware that some reviews could be sour grapes or not reliable - so go with the majority view.  But forget it when it comes to restaurants and attractions etc - often the reviews are years old or too few to be of benefit.  They also have great City Guides for most of the major cities in the world and the list grows longer all the time - I use these city guides instead of buying paper ones. (It saves your data so no roaming charges).  The guides have pretty good "general" maps and give you an idea of where the hotels actually are (I always find a new city intimidating -- how do I know if I'm in the most convenient neighbourhood?). 
EXPEDIA - for a rough idea about hotel prices I find the old expedia gives me a general guide - it used to always be the cheapest place on the web, but I am finding that more and more hotels are matching expedia and other online prices and I think the hotels treat people who book directly better.
AIRBN - this is the way of the future.  It combines great prices, different types of accommodation and traveller reviews. Mostly they have apartments and rooms in people's houses.  And they are very reasonable - especially for cities such as New York and Los Angeles and London.  I prefer the anonimity of hotels but some of their apartments do look inviting - and they offer some quirky accommodation types - caravan anyone?  If anyone has ever used them please let me know.

Travel Plans - TRIPIT. This is a handly place to keep all of your flights etc - personally I'm a pen and paper gal - besides I might need my phone juice onboard to compensate for the crappy movies.

Language Apps - if you really want to get to know the locals then I suggest downloading one of the many language apps.  I am too cheap and only download the freebies.  But at least they give you some handy phrases.

Maps - Definitely download GOOGLE MAPS.  The others are just a hot mess. Make sure you plot your travel BEFORE you leave the hotel so that you aren't using roaming data.  Then photograph the map and you have it. 

Travel Diaries - There are tons of them out there - but I simply use Facebook (when I'm in Wi-Fi range) to let everyone know where I am.  Saves me doubling up and to be honest I never keep a diary after the first couple of days.

Keeping in Touch - SKYPE - Still the best free phone app.  And no matter where I am, I have hate great connections--Venice, South Africa, Japan, USA, Spain, UK.

Boredom - to fill in the long hours I must have my favourite podcasts (In Our Time, This American Life), something to read (Kindle), and Angry Birds.   Remember to take noise reducing earbuds (they are definitely worth paying extra for) and your charger as some plane seats have plugs now.

Please email any new apps !


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