Spring Long Weekends and the Apps to Go

24/04/2013 From hotels to campers, guides to translators, here

The long weekends of spring have arrived and taking off becomes rather tempting.
For those who are planning to get on the road, organizing a mini-break is not so complicated, not even on a limited budget. In order to find the cheapest airfare or the best price on petrol, book a hotel with the best value for money, choose the trendiest restaurant and cut down the cost of an interpreter or the weight of a guidebook, all you need is a smartphone with the right apps. Once you have chosen your destination, the first thing to do is understand the best way to get there for the cheapest price. If you go by car, the “ViaMichelin” app calculates the trip and estimates the cost based on the size of your engine and the price of gas.

To fill up, there is “Prezzi Benzina” which, as its name implies, helps find the best price of petrol along the way. Taking the train? The “Info Treni” app is useful for info on itineraries, delays and even strikes. If your destination is far away and the holiday a short one, the best way to get there is by plane. Apps like “Skyscanner” and “Kayak” allow you to compare prices from the various airlines to choose the cheapest fare. Before taking off, it is best to book your accommodation, and you are spoilt for choice with all the apps out there. “TripAdvisor” offers millions of reviews on hotels while “Booking.com” offers the choice of 275,000 lodgings in 80 countries.

Using “Blink Hotels” you can book a few hours before checking in with promises up to 70% in savings. If you do not want to book, there is “HotelsNearMe” which shows a map of the nearest hotels. And to organize it all, there is “Tripit”, the travel organizer that keeps all your bookings together: trains, flights, hotels and car rentals. Obviously this does not apply to the over half a million families who have decided to travel by campers and motor homes throughout the boot hoping to catch some rays. This is according to a survey by Coldiretti for the spring long weekends. The crisis of the traditional holiday does not stop itinerant tourism, which, this time round, involves about 1.2 million Italians and bases its success on the flexibility of destinations and the holiday period as well as on the DIY factor.

A characteristic which fares well with the crisis that prompts Italians to take a short trip near home, a daytrip or a weekend away, a walk in the countryside or a visit to a City of Art or a religious destination. Whatever the choice, it is fundamental to get a map to plan out the day once arrived at destination. “CityMaps” has 7,800 interactive maps from all over the world indicating millions of points of interest and how to get there. For big cities, “AllSubway” is a practical app with its images of the underground maps to get around swiftly. Also essential is “AroundMe” which shows everything you need on a map from car parks to pharmacies, supermarkets to the hospital, cafés to cinemas. In choosing where to eat, help comes from “Urbanspoon” which displays and shows the reviews of both experts and foodies alike and allows you to book a table.