The world of travel apps is saturated. There are apps for almost everything these days, from the planning stages right through to post-travel reminiscing. Some of them are fun, some are seriously handy and others are just gimmicks.
With all the tech that’s out there, it can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack if you want find something genuinely useful for your travels. Here are 7 apps and websites we rate for 2017.
1. For European rail adventures: Loco2
If you’re planning a rail trip around Europe this summer, Loco2 is a must-have. Whether you’re going to Lyon for the incredible food or want sun, sea and sand in Barcelona, Loco2 is on hand to help you book your trips.
You can search for in-country and cross-border routes throughout Europe and reserve tickets in either euros or GBP. Plus, you can set up alerts for when booking opens on routes you’re planning to use in future. There’s a desktop site and both a free Android and iOS app for booking on the move.
2. For savvy travelling: Hopper
Flight prices are notoriously unpredictable – one day they’re up and the next they’re down, with seemingly no logical or predictable pattern. This is where Hopper comes in. Enter your travel dates and Hopper will predict when your flight is going to be at its cheapest.
If it tells you to wait, you can watch the route and receive notifications when prices drop, or you can book there and then through the app (available on Android and iOS) with no added fees.
3. For a bit of fun: PolarSteps
Not all travel apps need to be practical. We’re intrigued by PolarSteps – the app (on Android and iOS) that tracks your travel using GPS (no data required) and turns it into an instant photo album.
Using only 4% extra battery power, it’s a good way to keep a log of your holiday without having to update social media or write notes on your phone (making your digital detox even easier). Over time it tallies up your number of trips, countries and total number of miles covered, giving you some serious bragging material.
There’s also a public area where you can see how others have spent their travels – great for inspiration.
4. For a European epic: Omio
Omio touts itself as “a single tool to get you anywhere in Europe” and it pretty much delivers. Whether you book through the site or not, it’s a really handy tool for figuring out your best route from A to B (www.omio.com).
If you need to get from Bucharest to Budapest, or you want to travel from Paris to the Greek islands, Omio offers a rundown of your best transport options. You can sort by cheapest, fastest or “smartest”, and choose which method of transport you want as your main vehicle.
There’s a website and mobile apps for Android and iOS.
5. For photo fun: Boomerang for Instagram
If you’re a keen Instagrammer but your feed looks a little static, get Boomerang. This Instagram add-on lets you take a few seconds of video in the app, which it then loops by reversing it too. It’s fun, creative and can have hilarious consequences when you’re photographing your friends.
6. For the budget traveller: Hitchhiking Maps
Hitchhiking, when done safely, makes for a cheap, unpredictable and always memorable adventure – but it’s not always easy. App Hitchhiking Maps has thousands of thumbs-upping users adding hitchhiking hotspots to their maps of Europe and Asia.
The hotspots often contain notes from previous hitchhikers and, where there is enough data, the average wait times for a ride.
7. For staying sane on the road: podcast apps
Podcasts are a great way to keep entertained on those dreaded long-distance bus journeys. There are millions to choose from, covering everything from mind-bending facts to in-depth personal stories of real people all over the world.
You could spend hours learning about the complicated art of tipping in the USA, or listen to that famous crime investigation that had the world on the edge of their commuter train seats.
Download Podcasts for iOS, or Podcast Addict for Android, and you soon might be able to subscribe to a Rough Guides podcast too… (Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for an exciting announcement next week.)