Kate Russell's Tech Traveller

Technology reporter and author of Working the Cloud, Kate Russell is a pro at finding the best websites and apps to recommend. Check out her site Workingthecloud.biz or tweet her @katerussell

By Kate Russell
Published 3 May 2013, 12:27 BST

Avoiding the holiday blues

Getaways can be a real tonic, but there's no doubting they can be stressful, too. Take our advice for a worry-free trip.

Discovering you've paid more than your travelling buddies is sure to ruffle feathers, so MoneySavingExpert.com has a fantastically detailed haggling guide (moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-holiday-haggling-guide) to ensure you find the best deal. It's also wise to know local customs, to avoid upsetting the locals. Kwintessential.co.uk has a good selection of culture guides under the resources menu, also available via its free 'International Business Etiquette' iPhone app.

To ensure a smooth journey try FlightStats.co.uk, where you can check for delays before you leave home and learn about their free smartphone apps to ease your airport experience. One thing guaranteed to take the shine off your trip is losing your luggage on a flight. Once you've reported the loss to airline staff you can use Mylostbag.com to trace where your misdirected luggage wound up.

For those of you worried about being overcharged by unscrupulous cabbies, TaxiFareFinder.com has rates for numerous international locations, with places of interest listed for easy access, as well as route suggestions and fare estimates. Finally, if you lose your passport or need emergency assistance, log onto EmbassyWorld.com which includes details of all the world's diplomatic offices and will help you find the one closest to you.

Online traveller: Under the weather

When planning a trip, it's a good idea to think about climate before packing a case full of swimsuits and suncream. This site has monthly climate guides and detailed weather reports for over 4,000 popular destinations. The holiday planner should help narrow down your choices if searching for a particular climate.

For a more comprehensive guide try AccuWeather.com where you'll find detailed forecasts for cities all over the world. As well as standard information, use the '+' option on the menu bar to add in other criteria, such as atmospheric conditions that might affect your itinerary or even your hairdo — from high winds to humidity.

It can be depressing looking at a bad forecast but YoWindow provides a tonic with a pictorially animated forecast installed as a Chrome browser plugin or desktop app. The sun will rise and fall as the weather is represented in real time, complete with swaying plants to indicate wind speed. I can think of worse ways to find out it's going to rain.

I Am Here (smartphone app)
Becoming separated from friends in a strange place can be a frightening experience — especially where language is an issue. Luckily our smartphones have a better sense of direction than we do. Simply search for 'I am here' in your app download directory to find a version compatible with your handset.

Four of the best local guide apps

World Around Me
Augmented Reality apps provide floating virtual labels over your real-world view through a smartphone camera. This example offers one-tap access to reviews and additional venue information. Free (lite version). Android, iOS. wtinfotech.co.uk

For Less Guides
When money's tight, it's good to find local deals. For Less guides reveal the location of discount vouchers for attractions in London, New York, San Francisco and Amsterdam, with more cities in the pipeline. IOS. Free. forlessguides.com

This stalwart offers free apps serving up details about pretty much anything you need in a particular area, from hospitals to hotels, all complemented by ratings from the Yelp community. IOS, Android. Free. yelp.ca/yelpmobile

It's not always possible to follow a written guide, especially when driving, so this app delivers free audio guides triggered by proximity to places of interest in more than 100 destinations around the globe. IOS, Android. Free. hummba.com 

Published in the May/Jun 2013 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)


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