The benefits of the digital world make holiday planning as easy as eating pie
Gone are the days when travel was a luxury, and so very simple. You got into your car, train or flight and enjoyed the ride. No more. Modern travel involves squeaky-tight schedules, tiresome security checks, frayed tempers, squished up seats, not to mention inconsiderate co-travellers. So it makes sense to want stress-free travel along with optimum comfort in our unpredictable times. No wonder then that most travel veterans have a slew of handy apps on their devices which makes life on the move easier.
I confess to being dependent on travel tech. I check Trip Advisor and Fodors’ forums for routes to take and to avoid. I also trawl through accommodation reviews on Airbnb, Booking.com, and Trip Advisor, and use offline city guides for cities I visit most (RATP to navigate the Paris metros). I use XE Currency to budget for trips, and snag my restaurant bookings though Open Table. Several friends swear by TripIt to create their travel itineraries and plan holidays. (Here, I prefer my laptop, a pencil and paper.)
For flights, Skyscanner offers fare comparisons, timings and schedules especially for the low cost airlines flying to out-of-the-way places. If you’re fussy about your seat (I can’t bear to get sandwiched between howling babies and snoring men), then Seat Alert is the way to go — one beep and you know that the blessed aisle seat is now available to book. Google Maps, my favourite app for cities known and unknown, has saved us on occasions when our GPS has misfired. And finally WhatsApp has saved mega bucks by keeping me connected.
I’m not a rarity. Reports for 2015 say mobile apps accounted for over 52% of all time spent on digital media, and a part of that were the travel-based apps. For example, on a day trip to Champagne it would be great to get reliable info on which champagne houses organise the best visits, what the weather will be like, the best bistros to eat at, or which bars offer terrific prices, and how to get to Reims fastest. An app can do this for the price of a download.
The Extraordinary Travel Company’s Jyotsna Kini plans trips to exotic locales where it’s all about detail. So it makes sense she tells me, to plan trips using the best tech at hand. “I’m constantly on Instagram and Pinterest following accounts like @parisinfourmonths and @travelnoire for pictures of dreamy destinations, and searching addictive topics like #airplanefood, #whatsinmybag.” Other favourite apps include Trip Advisor for reliable reviews, TimeOut for urban perspectives and Skype and Google Translate to help communicate. “I always search #(name of destination) before I plan visits anywhere — for other people’s visual perspectives.” If she had place for only two on her phone her choices would be Instagram and Trip Advisor, she confesses. “While in Oaxaca, Mexico, I used Instagram real-time to figure out best spots to photograph a local dance festival.”
As I type this, I’m using Flight Track, which confirms my son’s flight has reached Paris 12 minutes ago. No worries — get appy.