A well-earned holiday is not the time to be burying your nose in your phone, but it an be an invaluable guide on your holidays – you just need to make sure you’ve got the right apps installed.
So turn off all your notifications, delete Slack, unsync your work emails and make sure you’ve got all the apps you need for a great break.
As anyone who’s ever stumbled jet-lagged and bleary-eyed onto New York’s Subway can attest, CityMapper is a life-saver. Covering 39 cities from Berlin to Tokyo, its routes and use of data is way better than Google Maps, making it indispensable travel companion for both city breaks and more long-haul trips. In a lot of cities it won’t just tell you how to make your journey, but also how much it will cost. And if you don’t want to scuttle around town on a subway, you can use bus only or cycle routes to do some sightseeing on the way. [Free, Android and iOS]
Don’t. Just. Speak. English. Slowly. And. Loudly. Getting some basic ‘restaurant French’ with this language learning app is quick and simple. With detailed, free-to-access courses in 29 languages, brushing up on your Hungarian before a trip to Budapest is a doddle. Or, if you’re planning a long weekend on Kronos, you can even practice your Klingon. Unlike a book or (heaven forbid) a language learning CD, Duolingo turns learning into a game. And, like all good games, it’s a little bit addictive. Which is great news for when you get lost in rural Japan and need to ask someone for directions. [Free, Android and iOS]
For when Duolingo fails. You can download the language, or languages, you need before you travel and then look up any words you get stuck with. And, if you’ve got Wi-Fi or a data connection on your travels, you can use your phone camera or handwriting to translate on the go. But most useful of all are Translate’s cue cards: tap out a phrase in your language, hit translate, turn the phone sideways and it will display a full-screen translation for someone to read. It’s a fun, if somewhat clunky, way to get by. [Free, Android and iOS]
Chances are you’ve already got everything booked, but Airbnb’s big new push for experiences makes it a handy app to use when you’re on holiday. From walking tours to cooking classes and kayak adventures to forest therapy, there’s a weird and wonderful range of activities available. [Free, Android and iOS]
For the traveller that doesn’t believe in planning, HotelTonight has some great deals for bookings made at the last minute. It’s got an easy-to-use interface and some generally amazing deals if you’re willing to take the risk. In some destinations you can even search for availability up to 100 days in advance. In these instances you’d probably be better off looking elsewhere, but HotelTonight is great for spur of the moment reservations. [Free, Android and iOS]
Use TripAdvisor if you want to go to where all the tourists go. Use Yelp if you want to go to find something a bit more authentic. It isn’t great in every destination (use https://tabelog.com/ if you’re in Japan, for example), but Yelp is pretty comprehensive for most city break destinations. Want to find a great restaurant or bar nearby? You won’t go far wrong with Yelp. Or, go lo-fi and ask a local. [Free, Android and iOS]
Will it rain in Marbella?! No, it probably won’t. But BBC Weather, which comes with a handy home screen widget on Android, is a quick and easy way to check the daily and weekly forecast in pretty much any location in the world. [Free, Android and iOS]
Every time you making a booking for your big trip, just forward it to TripIt and it will add it to an automated itinerary. It’s probably less confusing than searching back through your inbox for the restaurant reservation you made two months ago. [Free, Android and iOS]
Beat the jet lag, or the hangover, with access to details of the best coffee in hundreds of cities around the world. Find cafes, read reviews and add your own photos or comments to help others in the Beanhunter community track down the perfect brew. [Free, Android and iOS]
If you must insist on flying British, the British Airways app is one of the better airline boarding pass apps out there. Admittedly the competition isn’t that high, but it’s fast, easy to use and doesn’t have endless unnecessary features. [Free, Android and iOS]
Don’t take out €700 in cash. Don’t get one of those prepaid money cards. Don’t use your debit card. One of the best things about Monzo – and there are a lot of good things about Monzo – is it doesn’t charge you any fees on transactions made in foreign currencies. You also get charged using the inter-bank exchange rate, so the price you see is the price you pay. But Monzo is more than just that: it’s a fully-fledged current account with a great app that gives you instant notifications when you spend money. And if you lose you card while on holiday, you can instantly freeze it and order a new one. [Free, Android and iOS]
In a similar vein to Yelp, Foursquare is a handy way of finding local reviews and recommendations for things to see and do all over the world. So rather than ending up at an Angus Steakhouse in Leicester Square, you could find out where people in London actually eat and drink and not have a miserable time. [Free, Android and iOS]
Remember all those great long reads you saved to Pocket to read at lunch/on your journey home/at the weekend? Well, now you can actually read them. It’s a great way to kill time and expand your mind during a long flight and, if you want to disconnect from the daily grind of rolling news and social media updates, catching up on some more considered storytelling is a good break for the brain. [Free, Android and iOS]