Apps to make the most of your weekend break
If you’re taking a weekend away, it's good to make the most of your time and strike a balance between getting the most out of the weekend and dashing around trying to fit everything in without feeling like you’re being rushed off of your feet. After all, there’s no point taking off to a new city during your time off if you’re just as exhausted as after a day at the office.
Luckily the answer to this problem could be right at your fingertips! If you have a smartphone or tablet, there are plenty of apps that you can use to make the most of your time away in a brand new city. Anything from journey planning to venue recommendations to just finding the nearest cash point - apps can help make travelling a breeze, wherever you decide to go.
To get more information on the best apps and websites, we spoke to some of the internet’s top travel bloggers to see what tips and tricks they use to get the most of out their time somewhere new.
"Do your research"
Victoria Brewood, Pommie Travels
"Departing on a Friday evening or Saturday morning and arriving back on the Sunday evening will allow you to get maximum time out of the weekend. If you're driving, try to set off outside of peak times to avoid getting stuck in traffic jams. While there's no need to plan your weekend break with military precision, it's a good idea to do some research online before you go and look at some of the activities you would like to do.
Write down the addresses and opening hours of the places you plan to visit, then jot them down on a map or save them on your sat nav. You don't want to be wasting time getting lost when you only have a couple of days to spare. Book accommodation with a central location so that all the main attractions are within easy reach and make reservations for any restaurants you might like to dine at."
VICTORIA RECOMMENDS: YELP, MET OFFICE AND TRIPADVISOR
"My personal favourite [app] is Yelp, which provides customer reviews and star-ratings of restaurants and cafes around the country. If you're not sure where to eat, you can use the map to locate somewhere nearby. Obviously a maps app like Google Maps will help in finding your way around and the Met Office app is useful for viewing the predicted weather forecast. TripAdvisor is also a generally handy app with user reviews of attractions and restaurants.”
"Go for a local touch"
Duncan, Urban Travel Blog
"Time flies on a weekend break and you really want to make the most of your short stay. Remember that you may have already invested money in flights and accommodation, so if you have the cash don't waste time on things like waiting around for airport buses. Grab a cab to maximise your holiday!
Spend extra to get flights that arrive early on Friday night (so you can enjoy a dinner and/or few drinks) and leave late on Sunday. You may pay 20% more, but if that means you get an extra night or afternoon in the city of your choice, it's well worth it. Spend a bit of time to researching a cool bar or café before you leave. Any bystander can point you in the direction of the main sights once you're there, but you'll have to dig a little deeper to find a really cool venue and these often lead you into a hip area of town too.
Consider trying to get in contact with locals. Maybe you have a friend, or friend of a friend, or you could use Couchsurfing or other social network to get in touch with someone. Having a local to show you around, especially by night, makes such a big difference in getting under the skin of the destination."
DUNCAN RECOMMENDS: SPOTTED BY LOCALS
Spotted by Locals is an online city guide app with tips from locals. The paid-for offline version is really useful as using phones abroad can be a pain.
"Don't forget to share"
Heather Cowper, Heather on Her Travels
When you only have a short time to see a city it's best to book accommodation that is centrally located so that you can walk to see most things. I'd also do a little bit of research about what there is to do and select one or two things that appeal to you, but then leave the rest of the time for wandering around and exploring at your own pace to make a few spontaneous discoveries.
Ask locals for food recommendations, especially street food and local cafes, or use social media sites such as Twitter to ask for tips. I always prefer to walk around as much as possible so you have time to look at interesting things as you go from one place to another.
HEATHER RECOMMENDS: TOUCHNOTE AND POSTAGRAM
I'd always check if the local tourism board has a free smartphone app to download, especially ones with an interactive map with all the things to see marked on it. I also like sending real postcards from the photos that I take on my phone to the family using apps like Touchnote or Postagram, I often send them to my parents who love to get things in the post.
Remember the Milk, Around Me and Catch That Bus
As we’ve heard from our bloggers, you can end up going one of two ways when it comes to planning your weekend break. You can either plan everything you want to do ahead of time or simply go for a stroll and see what you can discover! If you want to plan ahead, you can fit an awful lot into a short time, so we recommend using Remember The Milk as the best way to list everything you want to do and keep notes to organise your day ahead. You can even keep the sites you don’t get round to noted down for next time!
If you’re feeling more spontaneous, you can use Around Me to quickly find whatever you need wherever you are. Whether it’s a café, theatre or just a cash machine, Around Me will list the nearest facilities and point you in the right direction. And if you do end up just a little too far from where you want to be, you can use Catch That Bus to find the nearest bus stop and get live updates so that you can hop on in no time.
Wherever you go, whatever you do, enjoy and let us know on Twitter!