Great Tools, Apps and Gadgets for Planning a Holiday

Planning a holiday used to mean a trip to the travel agent to see what package holiday deals they had on this season. Nowadays we have the Internet, which has literally opened, up the world to us. There are an infinite number of places to visit, so here are some things I have used to help me plan trips.

Best Website: Trip Advisor
This website has revolutionized the way we book and plan our holidays. The most important feature is the accommodation reviews, which are pretty unbiased, unlike certain websites which sell rooms where there seem to be less negative reviews. You need to keep an eye out for fake reviews still, which can be done by watching for similar writing styles and lots of reviews from users with just one post.

Trip Advisor also shows you Things To Do In “Location”. This lists and reviews all the sights and activities, which really helps you decide how long to visit a particular spot. If you are a big Facebook user, you can also connect it to your account and it will show you if a friend or friend of a friend has reviewed a hotel or place you are looking at. From Trip Advisor you can also see hotel prices and then click through to book online.

Best App: Evernote
I use Evernote for so many things and travel planning is just one. I was able to plan an upcoming trip for 4 people across 3 countries in a very quick and organized manner thanks to Evernote. I used it to plan the itinerary, list important phrases from emails in the traveling party, to save e-tickets for flights in one place, and save helpful webpages and videos.

When we get there I shall be loading some of these pages onto the app Pocket that saves webpages offline, very handy for saving sites like Wiki Travel. Both these apps are free to use and they sync on all operating systems and devices. This means I can be out somewhere and take a photo, then save it to Evernote for later, or save a webpage for later. Then get home and it is on my computer to send to others in the traveling party. There are so many uses for it besides this too such as having something to read about your upcoming holiday whilst offline.

Best for Backpackers: Lonely Planet’s South East Asia on a Shoestring
I have used this book on and off for the past 17 years. It features all of the nice cheap backpacker countries like Thailand and Laos. I used to use it to find accommodation, as did most backpackers before sites like Trip Advisor came along. The prices were always out of date and they still are. I suspect that once a hotel gets listed, they get instant success and this probably leads to them upping their rates.

Nowadays I use it more for planning where to go or things like finding a hospital, post office or an extra activity. Reference books are not easy to use on tablets and Kindles, so this is the one book I keep with me in South East Asia. They have guides for most countries in the world. It is also always something I have in my hand when taking off and landing on flights when electronics are prohibited.

garden screesaver

Best for Future Memories: Sony RX100
When you travel to amazing places that you have taken time to plan, you will want more than just memories. So buying the best camera for your trip is essential. Phones are getting good at taking photos, but they are all terrible at taking photos at night and they don’t have zoom. So you want a small camera, which you can keep with you all the time. They don’t come any smaller than the RX100 if you want all the professional controls and a good size sensor.

For the past year or so I have been using the RX100 mark 2. It is superb because it fits in many pockets, but also produces photos and videos on a par with basic DSLR cameras (with kit lenses). The photo above was taken in Thailand at the Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens with my RX100. I turned it into a screensaver and video, so that it can be enjoyed forever. The best value one right now is the first version that was reduced in price when the 3rd version was released a few months ago.

Best for Skiers: the Sweetspot
Not everyone skies but for people like me who only manage to go on a skiing holiday once every 2 years or so, the Sweetspot by SkiA Designs is a godsend. It straps to the bottom of your boots and acts as a low priced ski simulator.

It is quite hard to describe with words, so if you are a skier just take a look at the video on YouTube below; basically it helps you balance as if you are really skiing. This saves you from needing a refresher course if you have not skied for a long time.