We’ve just reached the end of a lovely week and a half away in the UK. A couple of days in Slough to visit Legoland Windsor, followed by a week in a self catering property in Salisbury. Being a modern, connected and geeky family we travel with our iPhones, iPads and laptops, and have never been far away from a WiFi signal. I can’t believe how this technology has revolutionised the way we travel – previously I would have bought maps and guidebooks of our destination area to locate suitable things to do, now all I do is turn up with a handful of apps on my phone!
So I thought I would share with you my top 5 apps for a holiday in the UK. These are the apps I have been relying on for the last week and a half.
1: Accuweather – there are many different SmartPhone apps for telling you the weather forecast, but what I like about Accuweather is its hour-by-hour forecast. If the forecast for the day is “sunshine and showers” (which, let’s face it, is not uncommon in the UK!) you can look through the day on an hourly basis and get an idea as to when the showers will hit. This allows you to plan your day more carefully. Of course, like all weather forecasts, it’s not 100% accurate, but I’ve found it pretty good. Accuweather is available on Android, iPhone, iPad and via website. I’ve linked to the free versions of the app in all cases, but there are “premium” versions you can buy if you want to get rid of the ads.
2: My High Street – if you’re anything like me, on a self catering holiday you are neither organised enough to do a grocery shop to take with you, nor is there enough space in the car to fit any shopping! This inevitably results in a reasonably urgent need to locate the nearest supermarket on arrival at your destination. Or a restaurant, or a coffee shop. This is where My High Street comes in. This app detects your location and then allows you to search for retailers or brands in a number of different categories. Select the category and the retailer/brand name you are looking for and a map will appear showing where the nearest are. You can select your chosen destination to get directions to it (using the Maps app). My High Street is available for iPhone only, but will run on the iPad in compatibility mode. It costs 69p.
3: WiFiZone@UK – for a geeky family, second only to knowing where the nearest supermarket can be found is knowing where the nearest WiFi hotspot is. WiFiZone@UK detects your current location and then lists all nearby BT Openzone, The Cloud, Orange and T-Mobile hotspots. It gives both a list and a map view so you can plan your route to your chosen hotspot. Very sensibly it doesn’t need an Internet connection to work, so if you’re stranded with no connection at all you can still find your nearest WiFi. Before you set out on your holiday it is worth finding out if you get complimentary use of any of these WiFi hotspots, either through your mobile phone or home contracts, otherwise there will be a charge to connect to the internet using them. WiFiZone@UK is a free app for the iPhone only (although it will work on the iPad in compatibility mode).
4: Look Bunny Find – once you’ve got the basics covered you can start finding out what there is to do in the local area, and this is where Look Bunny Find comes in. Again this app detects your location, and then lists out local attractions and events. This app is squarely aimed at families, so everything listed should be safe to take kids to. The events are listed in order of distance, closest first, and selecting any event shows you a map and directions to help you get there. Where possible it also includes opening times and prices. The attractions can also be filtered by a huge selection of different categories, so if for example you just want to see museums or swimming or baby activities you can. Look Bunny Find is a free app for the iPhone, and runs on the iPad in compatibility mode. It needs an internet connection to work.
5: Right Move – this is my “guilty pleasure”. When I’m on holiday in a new part of the UK I can’t help having a look at what kind of properties are for sale, and how much they cost. The Right Move app is the best property window shopping app I know, and I love to lose a couple of hours in a evening browsing through the property listings and looking at photos and floor plans! Right Move is available on Android, iPhone and iPad, or through their website, and is free on all platforms.
I’d like to finish up with a special mention for the website Just Eat. It’s not an app (oh, how I wish it was!), but I recommend it as a great way to find takeaways in areas of the UK. What’s more, you can order your food and pay for it online, and shortly afterwards someone will turn up at your door and just hand it to you! This is particularly great if you’ve put the kids to bed and can’t face cooking a main meal.
So there you go. Five apps and one website which I reckon are pretty much all you need to have a fun holiday in the UK. What about you? What are your must-have holiday apps? Please leave me a comment and let me know.
Disclosure: The links to the iPad/iPhone apps above contain my iTunes affiliate ID. Purchases made after clicking on these links are no more expensive to you, but I receive a small fraction of the purchase price as commission. Given most of the apps listed are free, I’m not holding my breath to make my fortune this way!