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Written by Tracey Bell

The websites and applications recommended in this article can help you plan your travel, from finding low-cost flights to planning your budget, booking excellent accommodation and, most importantly, having fun on the road.

SkyScanner

Benefit: Allows you to compare flexible dates very easily so you can find the best days to fly. 

Description: SkyScanner is a standard flight search engine where you enter your destination and preferred travel dates.  But you can also select Cheapest Month to see when in the year it’s cheapest to fly to your chosen destination.  It can also display a month of prices if you have flexible travel dates within a certain month.  You can also ask for cheap destinations from your departing airport if you haven’t yet decided where you want to go.

Tip: Once you have used SkyScanner to find the cheapest flight, go to that airline’s site and see if it’s cheaper to book directly.  Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t.

Seat Guru

Benefit: Helps you pick the best seat for your flight (or at least avoid the worst!)

Description: Enter the airline and/or flight number and it will present a colour-coded chart showing good seats, bad seats, mixed review seats and ordinary seats.  You can use this chart to select seats for your flight when you book or check in.

Tip: Select your seats when you book so you have maximum choice, but keep checking back from time to time in case better seats become available.

Trip Advisor

Benefit: Read reviews from other travellers about accommodation and attractions.  The site also ranks accommodation and attractions according to category and location to enable easy comparison.

Description: Simply enter your destination and what you are looking for there (i.e. hotel, tour, restaurant, etc) and it will give you a list.

Tip: Check the dates of the reviews.  A change of management can make a dramatic difference so if there is an overall four star rating but the reviews from the past six months have been terrible, you might think twice.  Of course, it also works the other way – a low star rating might have excellent recent reviews.

Universal Packing List

Benefit: UPL puts together a printable packing list according to your needs.

Description: Go to http://upl.codeq.info/ and tick all the items that you will need from their comprehensive list.  It has a handy link to climate information, currency, etc.  It will give you a packing list specific to your journey.

Tip: Don’t do this at the last minute.  You will be surprised, especially for an international trip, at all the little things you need to get that you might forget.  For example, do you have enough sockets to charge all your electronics (and nowadays we seem to travel with more and more!)?

Sworkit

Benefit: An app with no-equipment workouts to help you keep fit while you travel.

Description: Choose the type of workout (strength, cardio, yoga, stretching) and the amount of time you want to exercise for.  It provides a circuit-style session with exercises that can be done in a small space with no equipment (i.e. a hotel room).

Tip: In a new city sometimes even going for a run can be a bit daunting.  But a quick workout in your room is a cost-free way to stay in shape on the road.

Price: A free plan is enough to keep you going, but there are paid options as well.

XE.com

Benefit: Provides easy access to foreign exchange rates

Description: The app is easy to use – simply plug in the amount, the currency you have and the currency you want to convert to and it will give you the conversion.  You can set up a number of different currencies if you are travelling to several countries and enter the amount of one currency and see the conversion into all the currencies you have in the list.  It can be useful when you are crossing a border and need to change money to decide if you want to change at the border or wait for a better rate further down the line.  Or if you are carrying say US Dollars and Euros and need to get some Kenyan shillings, you can see which currency will be more beneficial.

Tip: It’s such a handy tool to have on your phone for quickly converting grocery items, accommodation prices, tour quotes, etc on the fly.

These tools will help you get the most out of your journey, from saving you money on the flight, to helping you pack, getting the best seat and finding great accommodation.  What are your favourite apps or websites that you use to plan or enjoy travel?

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