Best travel guides
Ditch your travel guide – there’s a good chance it’ll be out of date and will fail to tell you about that must-try restaurant that’s only just opened.
If you’re jetting off to Asia, Travelfish has created a range of destination-driven apps for indicial places like Bangkok, Ankor and Singapore. And the Lonely Planet travel app combines a useful translator with audio walking tours and detailed city guides.
Travelling is most fun when you stumble across a hidden gem or unexpected delight without planning everything too much. But you might want to find out a bit more about the place to get some context. That’s where the mobile Wakitude app comes in. Take a photo of the scene and (so long as you’ve got an internet connection) Wakitude will tell you all about it. Clever, huh?
It may be a bit out of the price range for the average tourist, but Google Goggles could seriously change the way we interact with our world. Pop these specs on and it can add layers of meaning onto your world, telling you more about a painting you’re looking at or showing you reviews of things before you buy.
Speak the language
The best way to get to know a country is to leave your fellow tourists behind and mingle with the locals, trying exotic foods and navigating the local transport. To avoid cringeworthy situations and being met with blank faces, download the Google Translate app on your phone. All you need to do is speak a sentence into it in English and Google will translate it into the language of your choice.
And new app Word Lens magically translates text into English for you when you point your phone at a piece of foreign writing (on a menu or at a street sign, say).
Getting sick while you’re abroad can be a nightmare, especially when if you’re not sure how to use the health system. The last thing you want to be doing when you’re ill is searching frantically for a doctor.
But if you’ve been clever enough to sort out medical health insurance before your trip, all you need to do is use a Facilities Finder online and you can find the closest medical help in just a few clicks.
Where to eat
Stumbling upon that quintessentially Parisian restaurant or finding the perfect plate of pasta in Rome is the Holy Grail in the travel world. We all want to eat where the locals do, not sit side by side with tourists. Mobile app Local Eats will point you in the direction of a nearby restaurant that’s been recommended by actual locals. It’s like having a foodie friend in every country.
Keeping in touch
Smart travellers never fall into the trap of paying for expensive texts and phone calls when they’re abroad. Use Skype on your mobile, tablet or desktop for video or telephone calls and download mobile app WhatsApp to send free message to your contacts (but they have to use it too).
Generic postcards bearing predictable scenes are so passé. Touchnote lets you take a snap of your travels, type in a personalised message and they will take care of the rest. They’ll print out the postcard with your image and message and post it for you.
Never be far from an internet connection with Wi-Fi finder, which helps you tap into Wi-Fi when you’re outside the hotel. This is perhaps one of the most practical apps out there if you like to stay online.
Before you book
High street travel agents are really struggling because there are so many online alternatives that let you source the very best prices yourself. Never book a flight without checking Kayak’s website and make thetrainline.co.uk your first port of call for organising rail travel. TripAdvisor is also making the hotel and restaurant industry more transparent. It helpfully rates places based on reviews by travellers rather than award stars.