12 best apps for holidays

ByKim Staples
Using phone on beach

So you’re having a quick city break, or a week in the tropics. Or perhaps you’re off on an exciting skiing trip. Whatever kind of holiday you’re jetting off to, don’t forget to bring your phone - and load it with some holiday-enhancing apps before you leave.

From planning your getaway, to having fun while you're there, there's an app for it all. Grab your suitcase and take a look at our favourite mobile apps to make travelling a little bit better.

And while you're getting ready to take your phone on holiday, take a look at our guide to using your phone abroad.

1. For booking flights: Skyscanner

Straight from one of the world's favourite flight-booking websites, the Skyscanner app is an easy way to sort out your air travel. It's got all the features of the desktop site, only in a smartphone-friendly format so you can book your travel right there on your phone. That includes searching by location, price comparisons of flights at different times, and a widget so you can glance at the most up-to-date prices. And then there's the 'Everywhere' function, that shows flights to, well, everywhere - for when you can't decide where to go on holiday but know that you want super cheap flights.

Android - iPhone - Windows Phone 

Using phone at airport

2. For booking accommodation: Booking.com

Flights aren't the only thing that need booking… there's your hotel too. Or hostel, or bed and breakfast - either way, the Booking.com app has got it covered. Search for somewhere to stay based on location, nearby landmarks, type of accommodation, price range, facilities, and the average guest review, and book it right there and then, wherever you are. Your confirmation documents can be viewed offline too, so you don't need to print anything off ready for check-in. It'll even sync up with maps to help you find your way there, and your calendar so you can plan your day.

Android - iPhone

3. For finding the good stuff: TripAdvisor

What TripAdvisor does best is crowdsourced reviews. It keeps track of hotels in particular, helping you find the pros and cons of each one, and sort them by price ranges and the like. Once you find one you like, you can book it too. But as well as that, TripAdvisor also has a handy restaurant feature. Look for the locals' favourite culinary haunts; search for the city's best meals on a budget, or just find the nearest place to stuff your face.

Android - iPhone - Windows Phone

4. For organising your travel: TripIt

Once you've got all your travel booked, it's time to organise it, and that's where TripIt comes in. Input your flights, hotel bookings, car hires, and so on - or simply forward your confirmation emails to the app - and TripIt will sort them all out into a neat itinerary for you to follow. It incorporates maps, gives alerts, and even suggests things to do in the area based on your schedule.

Android - iPhone - Windows Phone - Blackberry

5. For helping you pack: PackPoint

There are plenty of apps to make packing easier, but PackPoint is one of the best. Tell it where you're going, how long you're staying, whether you're travelling for business or pleasure, and what activities you'll be doing there, and the app will create a list of things you need to remember to pack. You can add to the list with your own entries, or swipe away ones that don't apply - it's very customisable. It'll even link to your TripIt to import your trips and plan your suitcase accordingly.

Android - iPhone

Man texting in pool

6. For beating jet lag: Entrain

The University of Michigan put together this clever app to help you beat jetlag. Entrain takes your travel dates and where you're going, as well as your current location, then gives a detailed advice for adjusting your body clock. The in-depth schedules it creates tell you how to optimise lighting levels throughout the few days before you leave - giving your circadian rhythms a chance to adapt.

Android - iPhone 

7. For finding your way around: Citymapper

It's only available for a handful of cities, but if you're visiting one of them, Citymapper is a must-have. The app's designed to help you find your way around, giving you the best routes on public transport or on foot. You'll get detailed timetables and real-time data, and it even includes details like how much each suggested route will cost. Oh, and it's available on Apple Watch and Android Wear, too, so you can just glance at your wrist to see where to go next.

Android - iPhone

8. For understanding the locals: Google Translate

Translation via computer is never perfect, but for getting the gist of things when you're on holiday, Google Translate is pretty darn good. With 90 languages under its belt, it's one of the most comprehensive out there, and the app is packed with features. Use the camera to translate text on a sign or a menu; use the voice feature to find out people are saying to you; and draw characters in other alphabets to learn what they mean.

Android - iPhone

9. For hanging ten: MSW Surf Forecast

Hoping to catch some waves on your seaside getaway? You'll want MSW Surf Forecast from Magicseaweed. Key in which surf spot you're visiting, and it'll give you in-depth info on the conditions there - including temperature, swell height, wind direction, and many other things that are probably very important to surfers. All data is live and up-to-the-minute, and of course includes high and low tide times.

Android - iPhone 

Using phone on beach

10. For keeping your phone safe: Cerberus

The last thing you want to do on holiday is lose your phone. Luckily, there are apps like Cerberus around to help you out if the worst happens. Install it before you go away, and you can track and locate your missing phone, display a message, lock the screen with a code, wipe the internal memory and SD card, and even take pictures, screenshots, and audio recordings to try and identify the thief.


11. For saving on data roaming: Onavo Extend

Unless you're on a network with a really good roaming plan - like Feel At Home from Three - you risk getting slapped with hefty roaming charges whenever you so much as refresh Facebook. That's where Onavo Extend comes in. It'll run in the background whenever you're using mobile data, and direct your traffic through Onavo's compression technology - meaning that using the web eats up less of your allowance. It can even compress images you upload, making it perfect for sharing your holiday snaps.

Android - iPhone

12. For saving even more on data roaming: Wi-Fi Finder

BT Wi-Fi on tablet

Why use less data when you can use none at all? The Wi-Fi Finder app will, uh, find Wi-Fi for you, believe it or not. Turn on your location settings, and it'll tell you where the nearest public Wi-Fi hotspots are, which are strongest, and whether they're free to connect. You can even download its map so you can search for Wi-Fi when you're offline. And since it works in 144 countries, your holiday destination is bound to be covered.

Android - iPhone 

Using your mobile abroad: A guide to roaming charges

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