10 of the best travel apps that you’ll actually use

No one needs a smartphone full of gimmicky apps. Weve rounded up a selection of the best tools to help the digital-savvy traveller


For a long time, whenever I was spotted using Google Maps to navigate Londons public transport network a friend would look over and prod: Oh, dont you use Citymapper? Eventually, I relented.

City mapper citymapper.com (iOS)

Comprehensive, easy to use and also playful, Citymapper offers more detailed journey planner information than Google, including real-time departures and disruption alerts, as well as Uber integration and cycle routes. It is available in around 30 cities worldwide, with all the obvious city-break destinations covered. It even tells you how long your journey will take by jetpack useless information really, but hopefully something to cheer you up when your train is cancelled.
Free, iOS and Android, citymapper.com



Over 70 million people have registered with Duolingo, a free and incredibly well-designed language learning app. Though not a replacement for proper language tuition, the app is a fun way to get the basics, or to keep yourself fresh on grammar and vocabulary, before a trip abroad. Just like a computer game, the app guides you through levels that you need to complete before advancing, and you gain experience points along the way.
Free, iOS and Android, duolingo.com

XE Currency


XE is the go-to site for currency conversions on the web, so its no surprise that its app is so popular: with over 20 million downloads since launch. It has lots of business-oriented features, such as rates for precious metals and historic currency charts, but for the traveller it is most useful for the simple fact that its able to convert every world currency. It also functions offline by saving the last updated rates, which is great if youre in a place with limited connectivity or trying to save on data.
Free, iOS and Android, xe.com



A bit like a pocket travel agent, Tripit pulls together travel information from your confirmation emails for flights, hotels, rental cars, events bookings and converts it into a single itinerary. Just forward your emails to the app and it will do the rest. If youre travelling with others you can easily share the plans, making this a useful app for coordinating a group trip.
Free, iOS and Android, tripit.com



There is a selection of apps out there to help you split bills (Tipulator, Splitwise etc), but Splittr is geared up for travelling, providing a simple platform to share costs between friends. You can enter expenses as you go, including who paid what and the app will do the rest. A nice touch for longer, multi-destination trips is that all currencies are supported and you can mix currencies without having to do the conversion yourself.
1.49, splittrapp.com

App in the Air


Not exactly slick by name, though certainly slick by nature, App in the Air is a smart, straightforward, flight tracking app that has the best coverage of airlines and airports. It will keep you updated about flight status even if you dont have internet coverage and helps you manage your time at the airport, breaking down each flight into four stages; check in, boarding, takeoff and landing time. It also integrates with Tripit (above) allowing you to import all your flights.
Free, iOS and Android, appintheair.mobi

Google Translate


This translator can be a useful tool to support your own, more serious language learning, but realistically, its most useful on a practical level quickly translating day-to-day words you come across on your travels. For example, you can hold your camera up to text such as a sign, or a menu and Google will translate it for you instantly. Its an essential app for any traveller.
Free, iOS and Android



This ambitious app creates a digital journal of your travels so you can look back on your trips on an interactive map. The app tracks you as you go, marking a red line along a map on the exact route you take; the app also monitors your speed and altitude, making it great for adventure travellers, though its just as fun to look back at your route around a city. You can add pictures, video, audio and text along the way, creating a multimedia travel diary you can share.
Free, iOS and Android, livetrekker.com

Wolfram Sun Exposure


There are a few apps out there that help you manage your time in the sun safely, but this one offers the most detailed information to keep you informed. You enter your skin type and it calculates how long you can spend sunning yourself before getting burned, based on the time of day, where you are and the strength of sun cream youre wearing. It also provides UV forecasts for your location.
0.79, iOS

Time Out


When youre done browsing Guardian Travel, of course, the Time Out app is a great directory of ideas of things to do in cities around the world. With coverage from Accra to Amsterdam, Edinburgh to Singapore, the app covers everything from bars, restaurants, attractions and events. The event finder is a particularly useful tool, meaning youll never struggle to find the most popular concerts, festivals or one-off happenings going on around you. You can also book restaurants and concert tickets through the app and create a customised travel guide for your holiday.
Free, iOS and Android


Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2016/jan/02/10-best-travel-apps-free-paid-for

The Year Of Travel: What To Do, See And Eat In 14 International Cities

To travel is to discover yourself in many different places.

You unearth thought-provoking history and create unforgettable memories.

You get to see and experience everything fully.

Theres just something about traveling that makes us all come alive, like were breathing for the very first time against a new horizon.

Thats why I wanted more of it this year.

At the end of 2014,I made a promise to myself for the following year.

I set out to see the world I so desperately craved more of.

I decided right then and there I was going to travel at least once every month of 2015.

Then, I bought my first flight immediately.

Now, thats quite a promise to make to yourself in your 20s.

Its quite a promise if youre someone who’s just started a full-time career in the real world, is limited by funds and still needs time to breathe.

Im all of these things, so it was as daunting as it was exciting to set this goal almost a year ago.

There was no trust fund.

There was no sabbatical.

There was no doppelgnger to run my errands or my life.

I was going to figure it out somehow because thats what you do when you’re really passionate about something.

I was more passionate about wanting to live out of a suitcase than I was about wanting to sleep in on a Sunday.

So, throughout this year, Ive seen a lot, eaten too much, slept not at all, accumulatedmiles, laughed a ton, cried over turbulence and learned to appreciate the first night back in my own bed.

Now that the year is coming to an end, I only have one tripleft.

But here are all the places I can already recommend:

1. Atlanta, Georgia

Must see: Piedmont Park

Must do: Sweetwater Brewery

Must eat: Aria

2.New York, New York

Must do: Statue of Liberty tour

Must see: Brooklyn Bridge

Must eat: Traif

3.Austin, Texas

Must do: Attend SXSW

Must see: The city via Rocket Electrics

Must eat: Any of the 4,000 food trucks

4. Washington DC

Must do:DC Museums

Must see: National Mall

Must eat: Roses Luxury

5. Madrid, Spain

Must do:Row a boat atParque del Buen Retiro

Must see: Plazas via a self-guided tour

Must eat: Mercado San Miguel

6. Barcelona, Spain

Must do:Day trip to Montserrat

Must see: Every Gaud building (especially de la Sagrada Famlia)

Must eat: 7 Portes

7. Lisbon, Portugal

Must do: Tram 28 up to Alfama

Must see: Fado in Chiado show

Must eat: Pastis de Belm

8. Tampa, Florida

Must do: Busch Gardens

Must see: Gulf of Mexico via a boat tour

Must eat: Ciros Speakeasy and Supper Club

9. Orlando, Florida

Must do: Walt Disney World

Must see: Hogwarts

Must eat: Around the world at Epcot

10.Chicago, Illinois

Must do: Architecture boat tour

Must see: Skydeck

Must eat: Mott Street

11. Nashville, Tennessee

Must do: Pedal Tavern alongBroadway

Must see: An act at Bluebird Cafe

Must eat: Loveless Cafe

12.Los Angeles, California

Must do: Spend the day in Santa Monica

Must see: The view from the Griffith Observatory

Must eat: Sugarfish

13.Newport, Rhode Island

Must do: Walk along Cliff Walk

Must see: Newport mansions

Must eat: The Mooring

14. New Orleans, Louisiana

Must do: Wander the French Quarter

Must see: Jazz on Frenchman Street

Must eat: Caf Du Monde

Throughout this whole year, I kept talking about how exhausted I was from traveling, how much I needed sleep, how I couldnt believe I did this to myself, how catching up on email on Mondays was too rough and how the TSA would soon get the best of me.

Yet, now that the year is coming to an end, I wouldnt have done it any differently.

Im thrilled to have had the chance to see so many new places, meet so many new people and experience life from multiple vantage points.

What I lost in sleep, I gained in memories.

What I spent in money, I gained in experience.

What vacation days I used, I gained some of the best days of my life.

What I gave up will never compare to what I gained and how I grew.

You should see these cities, too.

Iwouldnt have done 2015 any other way, and 2016 has a lot to live up to.

Read more: http://elitedaily.com/life/do-see-eat-cities/1315064/

Stunning Cloud Formation Appears Above Portugal, People Call It The Hand Of God

On Monday, the Portuguese were stunned by a terrifying cloud over the island of Madeira. The bright orange formation looked as if it was a burning clenched fist.

The cloud was spotted by weather blogger Rogerio Pacheco. His photos soon got attention on social media. People had all kinds of speculations, comparing the unusual cloud to anything from a “Hand of God” to a burning fist, or even a comet from the video game Final Fantasy.

“As soon as I saw the sky, I was immediately intrigued and I just had to grab my camera to take photo,” said Pacheco. “For me, the cloud looks like an outstretched hand with a fireball.”

Read more: http://www.boredpanda.com/unusual-cloud-formation-fist-hand-of-god-portugal/

January hurricane forms in Atlantic for first time since 1938

Hurricane Alex develops near Azores in water barely warm enough for any storm to form, says US researchers

A hurricane has formed far out in the Atlantic ocean, the first time this has happened in January since 1938, said US officials.

Hurricane Alexs maximum sustained winds were near 140kph (85mph) and residents of Portugals mid-Atlantic Azores islands were warned to expect waves up to 18m (60ft) high and wind gusts up to 160kph (100mph).

The islands Civil Protection Service issued a weather red alert, the highest of four warnings that indicates extreme risk, for five of the archipelagos nine islands.

The US National Hurricane Center in Miami said in a Facebook post there hadnt been a hurricane present during the month of January since 1955, when Alice formed in late December 1954 and carried over into the next month.

The hurricane was centered about 560km (350m) south of Faial Island in the central Azores and was moving north-northeast at about 35kph (22mph). Alex was expected to move near or over parts of the Azores on Friday, the US National Hurricane Center said.

The Azores government on Thursday advised kindergartens to stay closed and told residents to ensure drainage systems werent blocked.

The archipelago, which has a population of about 250,000, has been threatened by hurricanes before, but they usually lose their strength as they move into colder northern water.

Alex formed only days after a rare event in the Pacific. An El Nio-related tropical storm formed south-west of Hawaii last week. Tropical storm Pali, only the third such system to develop in January in more than 40 years, had weakened to a depression by Thursday and was expected to dissipate in the next day or so. It never made landfall and was no threat to land.

However, Alexs formation has nothing to do with El Nio, according to Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAAs Climate Prediction Center. NOAA researcher Jim Kossin said the water Alex formed in was about three to four degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal, still barely warm enough for a storm to form.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/15/january-hurricane-forms-in-atlantic-for-first-time-since-1938

These Are 2016s Hottest Destinations

From luxe in Mongolia to gastropubs in Wales, the beauty of Botswana, and snowboarding in North Korea heres where you should be booking to go.

You can practically smell the gingerbread baking in the window, imagine what it’s like in person.

The world continues to open up as a fresh crop of destinations lay the groundwork for more mainstream tourism. Our top three picks for 2016 arenow, more than evereasier to reach, explore, and enjoy. The others are all tangible choices worth adding to your bucket list. No gimmicks here, just a clutch of destinations across the planet that are poised to welcome new guests. So get here before everyone else does.

1. Mongolia
The land of Genghis Khan just got an upgrade.

New luxury digs are reinvigorating the tired glamping clichenow yurts come with flushing toilets and steaming hot showers.

2. The Azores

Owned by Portugal, the islands understandably possess a much more Iberian feel than anything Scandi, but you can expect wonderfully desolate landscapes and plenty of opportunities to connect with a natural backdrop that feels nothing like home.

Ask any local and they’ll tell you the travel package deals luring new visitors are best avoided in the off-season (the colder months: late October through April) but everything else is fair game as long you’re not married to one island but can hit up a few to discover the islands’ sacred diversityfour would be ideal: So Miguel, So Jorge, Pico and Flores.

Big name brands in hospitality haven’t yet targeted the region, but several independent options, likeSanta Barbara Eco-Beach Resort on So Miguel, are worthy contenders.

3. Baltimore, Maryland
One of several cities mired in America’s ongoing all-lives-matter dialog, the home of the Orioles deserves as much buzz for its “upcoming coolness” as Detroit’s new-Brooklyn messaging over the last couple of years.

The American Visionary Art Museum sets the tone for the city’s quirky-cool vibe with its private collection of oeuvres manifested by creatives with no professional training (don’t miss the fart machine in the basement).

Encantada, its in-house restaurant, also flexes its food muscles (and mussels) with fresh-from-the-bay fair and noble veggies alternatives. Worthy contenders in the culinary category are cropping up all over, with several notable openings this year, likeLa Cuchara], where Maryland crab is swapped for hamachi crudo, and San Sebastin-inspired tapas, all at Baltimore prices (read: cheap.)

Perhaps the most promising sign of things to come is The Ivy Hotel, a new luxury property in the Mount Vernon neighborhood.

The beautifully decorated 18-suite manse would feel more at home in NYC or London but is instead a beacon hoping to attract a new type of traveler to town.

Although Northern Ireland may feel like next big thing in the UK because of its clutch of Game of Thrones locations, it’s Wales that deserves top marks for championing the gastropub movement sweeping across Britain.

Farm-to-table has never been more literal in the Wye Valley and along the Pembrokeshire Coast. Our undeniable favorite is Wrights Food Emporium near Llandeilogo for the elevated rarebit. And to burn off all those locavore calories, check out the brand new Surf Snowdonia, a massive artificial lagoon in Conwy Valley built for hanging ten.

Maui & Lanai, Hawaii
“A wedding in Hawaii? Real original!” So says Jason Segel’s sarcastic character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but America’s consummate vacationland is rolling out a crop of brand new holiday fodder next year: the legendary Four Seasons on Lanai reopens at long last, and Maui’s so-called upcountry capitalizes on local a cultural experience thats a far cry from the usual tiki tackiness: the Paniolo, or Hawaiian Cowboy.

Check out the Makawao Rodeo attracting over 300 horsemen, then head to Haleakala National Park, celebrating 100 years as a protected reserve, to skywatch in the middle of the night.

The south African nation celebrates 50 years of self-governance in 2016, and it’s well worth helping celebrate a country that has become a benchmark for conservation (stringent wildlife anti-poaching laws) and stable government (democracy reigns with a strong human rights focus) within a struggling continent.

New camps along to Okavango Delta, like the fully reimagined water-based safari at Belmond Eagle Island Lodge, provide further access to one of the largest conglomeration of animals on the planet.

Hallstatt, Austria
Instagram is changing the way we discover new dream destinations by subverting the agenda of travel agents with unbridled travel porn. Nowadays, inspirational handles hawk doctored pics of the most exclusive locations around the globe.

Beach vistas (Maldives, Bora Bora etc) are an easy gimme, but the big winner is this tiny town wedged between steep mountains and a quiet lake. You can practically smell the gingerbread baking in the window, imagine what it’s like in person.

New direct flights to the Caribbean seem to be materializing every day, linking American hubs to a fresh crop of tropical islands.

Norwegian Airs surprise entry into the USs budget holiday market will undoubtedly prove to be a game changer and open up French-owned Martinique to a wider spectrum of visitors.

While a sunset swim off the beach at Hotel Bakoua is a must, dont miss a guided visit to Saint James distillery to learn about the islands rum history. Made from sugar cane juice itself and not the sugar refined from cane, rum in Martinique is like the champagne of the industry.

Fernando de Noronha
It’s Olympics time again, and this year’s soon-to-be newsmaker for woeful unpreparedness is Rio.

Should you go? Sure, if you want to. Visa fees and restrictions will melt away to encourage visitors, but you should really take advantage of your time in Brazil and make a stop in the small island chain of Fernando de Noronha, an eco-tourism Eden with spectacular beaches and plenty of scuba diving.

In fact, Guia Quatro Rodas, Brazils version of the Michelin guide, ranked the nations top ten beaches and placed the first three all within the small archipelago (Praia do Sancho is considered number one).

North Korea
Were serious about this one, but not for the reason you think. The museum tours to see how the other side lives were trendy a few years backand plenty of people participated.

Now were interested in the Kim Jong Universe for its slopes. Imagine tearing down first-class slaloms with the likes of snowboard superstar Terje Hakonsen, and not another soul in sight.
Dreams come true for $2400 (seven nights), which also includes all the DMZ bells and whistles just in case you want to look around before heading home.

Read more: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/12/19/these-are-2016-s-hottest-destinations.html