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Improve your holiday with these 10 apps

Time was, you’d take only a paperback and a polaroid camera on holiday. The only reason to phone home was because you’d forgot to ask your neighbour to feed your cat. Today, thanks to the digital Swiss army knife that is the modern smartphone, you can take your entire library, snap thousands of photos and still make that moggy-saving call at your convenience. But there’s other things your phone can do on your travels, as these 10 handy apps prove. (Unless stated, all apps are available on Android and iOS.) 

1. Travel Advice

Dev: Edwin Bosire

Before you so much as check your boarding passes, check the safety of your destination first. The rather prosaically named Travel Advice is literally just that - and very good it is too. It’s essential and up-to-the-minute travel information, fed straight from the government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Need an embassy or the info on where and when it’s safe to travel? This is your app.
2. WeatherPro

Dev: MeteoGroup

Seven day reports for a whopping two million locations worldwide, with accuracy that verges on eerily precise. WeatherPro carries a huge information breakdown on impending local conditions including such things as wind speed and humidity. So, if it’s chucking it down in the Czech Republic or sunny in Seville, you’ll know about it in advance so you can be ready with either your mackintosh or your mankini.
3. TripAdvisor

Dev: TripAdvisor

The absolutely indispensable boss of user review sites makes the handy pocket-sized transition to mobile, ready for scrutiny by eager holidaymakers. You know the site by now – peer reviews of resorts, hotels and restaurants, aggregated for simplicity’s sake with a five star rating system. Avoid the fluff of journalist opinion and PR teams by getting straight to the paying punters’ views, with added hotel, flight and restaurant booking functionality straight from the app.
4. CityMapper

Dev: CityMapper

Despite being your holiday destination, an unknown city can feel more like a daunting task to be conquered than a place to unwind and enjoy the sights. Let CityMapper become part of that victory by installing before journeying into the concrete jungle. More far reaching than Google Maps and with intuitive features that lend themselves to tourist needs, it can offer help with journey lengths by different modes of transport, costs, departure times and even calories spent walking the streets. A virtual guide who’ll answer every question you can ask.
5. Wi-Fi Finder

Dev: JiWire

Despite enjoying the freedom of being away, you still want to read the news from back home on your phone and upload your holiday snaps to Facebook. However, if you’re seeking to avoid those costly data roaming charges (and who isn’t?) then get this installed sharpish. It enables simple and easy location of free wi-fi hotspots wherever you are.
6. Google Translate

Dev: Google

This portable Babel fish (see Douglas Adams for more information) with 103 languages loaded boasts many ingenious features, such as conversation mode, an offline option and handwriting, which reads your puzzling foreign scribbles and works its translating magic. You can even hover your phone’s camera lens over text and get the English equivalent instantly. As smart as smartphones get.
7. XE Currency

Dev: XE

The financial markets can tumble like a slinky down the Empire State Building, but great apps like this one sit rather more solidly in a bid to make sense of it all. At first glance, the XE Currency might look like something Gordon Gecko plays with instead of Candy Crush, but its Bloomberg aesthetics belie the simplicity within. It’s a currency convertor which uses the very latest figures available, so doesn’t mess about. Handy if you’re haggling over a watch at the Bangkok market and need to know how much you’re shelling out in sterling.
8. LiveTrekker

Dev: Trekea Mobile

Ever wanted to create one of those map-travelling scenes from an adventure movie where the hero’s journey is tracked by a red line barrelling across the plains? Then this is the app for you. With the ability to do just that, with added notes, photos, videos and your own commentary, it’s a fantastic and novel way of recording your holiday as an interactive media presentation. Infinitely more interesting than a slideshow, you can broadcast live or save and email the whole package to friends and family later. Neat.
9. Packing Pro

Dev: QuinnScape

Are you the type of person who forgets your tickets, passports or, even worse, pants? This is the digital buddy who’ll check that you’re prepared for the holiday ahead by reminding you what to take, cross checking your list and even working out mathematically how it’ll cram into your chosen luggage. It doesn’t make remarks about what you’ll look like in your beachwear, but let’s just assume that app is just around the corner. (Note: only available on App Store. For Android, the similarly functional Packing List is available.)
10. Wolfram Sun Exposure

Dev: Wolfram Group

Sunburn is no laughing matter. Skin protection from harmful UV rays is a serious consideration for any sunshine sojourn. Wolfram’s extensively built solar bible acts as another barrier against burning by calculating how long different pigmentations can withstand exposure. Taking into account user’s skin tone, position of the sun and location-based UV forecasts, it arms tanners with risk-averse knowledge before taking to the lounger. (iOS only.)
Ready to go? Grab a bargain with our last minute travel insurance.

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