Unless you’re planning a digital detox, you’re likely going to use the internet, either on a desktop or via a mobile app, to plan part of your next trip. Here are 12 websites and apps you need to check out for your travel plans in 2016.
1. Find somewhere to pitch up with Hipcamp
We’re all familiar with the Airbnb concept: renting private homes, directly from the owner, for your holiday or weekend away. Hipcamp does something similar, but instead of homes, you rent a patch of grass. The website, first launched for California but now USA-wide, is a platform for campers to connect with landowners across the country and find the perfect pitch. They list 2283 parks, 8789 campgrounds and 283,392 campsites in total, so you’ll never be short for somewhere to settle under canvas.
2. Enjoy accessible travel with Accommable
“To enable anyone to go anywhere” is the mission of Accomable founders Martyn and Srin. The pair met through a support group for children with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) – a disease that has them both wheelchair bound. In 2015, they launched Accomable: a website listing accessible holiday rentals around the world, with detailed access information on each property, the locality and nearby services – an invaluable source for anyone travelling with a disability.
3. Take better travel photos with Snapseed
With smartphone cameras now sporting 4K high definition capabilities, you’re going to need some decent software to fine-tune your travel photographs. Snapseed (available on Android and iOS) is the perfect travelling photographer’s companion: open your image and choose from a selection of presets (the HDR effect is one of our favourites), or fine-tune your photo using the detailed options. You can alter the ambiance, structure, saturation, contrast and more to make your photo Instagram-ready.
Image © Lottie Gross
4. Go beyond beds with Airbnb
We written about Airbnb shaking up the travel industry before, with their online peer-to-peer accommodation platform. Now they’re moving into a another realm: experiential travel. Connecting travellers with locals who can give insider tips, tours and experiences isn’t a new concept, and a slew of other websites are offering a similar service. But Airbnb, with its already hugely successful and trusted brand, is the website we trust to do it best.
5. Support new travel initiatives with TravelStarter
Essentially Kickstarter for travel, this website is a global crowdfunding platform giving people the power to start or support local tourism projects. Whether it’s in your hometown or in your next destination, initiatives range from youth hostels in the Welsh capital, to rebuilding an entire village in Nepal, and each offer rewards in return for your financial support.
6. See the world through Periscope
“Explore the world through the eyes of somebody else” is how Periscope sells itself. The app, developed by Twitter and available on Android and iOS, allows you to broadcast video, live from anywhere in the world to your followers. If they’re not all online to see you in action though, you can store it so they can replay later.
7. Calculation with XE Currency Converter
It’s not exactly a new concept, but this app is a must-have on any traveller’s smartphone and tablet. Convert any currency in seconds with the tap of just a few buttons.
8. Chase the Northern Lights with Aurora Alert
One of the most famous natural wonders of the world, the northern lights (or aurora borealis) are no less elusive than they are beautiful. Aurora Alert is a handy app showing Kp readings in your current location, and offers notifications that’ll let you know when the weather is best for a dance in the sky.
9. Travel planning with Travellerspoint
It’s neither the most beautiful nor the most intuitive travel planner on the internet, but we love the concept of Travellerspoint. Pin all your stops on a map, choose how you’ll travel in between each place and add in dates – the ultimate tool for any fastidious traveller.
10. Travel meet-ups with Adventurely
It’s currently only available in beta in New York City, but we’re hoping Adventurely will be rolling out more destinations soon. The app allows you to input your travel dates, choose the tourist attractions you want to visit and then it matches you with other travellers doing the same thing, so you can have someone to explore a new city with.
11. Freshen up with 6Hourly
We’ve all been there: you’ve got a night flight but have to check out of your hotel at 10am. You’re going to arrive at the airport hot, sweaty and stinking of the day’s sightseeing. It’s not ideal. Fortunately, this is where 6Hourly comes in. The website and impending free Android and iOS app – only operational in India (though it’s an initiative we’d like to see rolled out in more destinations) – allows you to book a hotel room for as little as six hours, meaning you can grab a shower and take a nap to freshen up before your long flight.