There’s a whole raft of online tools to help you plan the perfectly tailored trip, but when time’s in short supply, try Plnnr.com. This stylish-looking trip wizard asks you a few simple questions to gauge the type of experience you’re after and does all the hard work for you, drawing from resources like Wikipedia, TripAdvisor, Yahoo Travel and Picassa. The final itinerary takes into account things like opening hours and visitor ratings and delivers all sorts of useful details, including travel directions and suggested restaurants and hotels.
Another good way to reduce the stress of planning a trip is to do a dry-run — virtually speaking. Walkit.com is an urban route planner enabling you to plot a walk before you leave home, revealing journey time, calorie burn and even how much carbon you’ll save travelling on foot instead of by car.
If you’re planning on getting behind the wheel, go the whole virtual hog by previewing your journey with a driving simulator at www.gaiagi.com/driving-simulator. You’ll need Google Earth installed and the site will need an extra plugin, but you can travel the entire route in your browser using Google Street View.
Finally, if you’re looking for someone in-the-know while overseas, try Rentalocalfriend.com, which provides a tour guide service that feels much more personal than your bog-standard guide — and at very reasonable prices, too.
plnnr.com/ Walkit.com/ gaiagi.com/driving-simulator rentalocalfriend.com
Online traveller: live album
If just taking digital photos isn’t enough anymore, here are three great ways to share them
Keep holiday memories alive by gathering photos and videos into a central hub the whole family can use to browse and download content. You get unlimited storage and no limit on file size. Upload via the free iPhone, Android and browser apps or by sending to an email address, so even technophobes can contribute.
Another great way to share holiday snaps, Minus feels like a cross between Pinterest and Facebook, letting you upload image collections and invite certain groups to access them. You can use it for clipping web articles too. The 50gb free allowance is generous and the drag-and-drop upload tool means it couldn’t be easier to use.
Online communities are the perfect place to share travel experiences. Gogobot.com is a great example, with 2.5 million users posting reviews and recommendations from over 60,000 destinations, using the site or free Apple and Android apps. Use the ‘Create Custom Guide’ feature to make a travelogue with its own web address.
This is a great site for campers looking for a little inspiration when it comes to luxurious outdoor adventure, from yurts and tipis to home-grown eco-domes. Most locations are in the UK but the international list is growing fast and includes some truly stunning sites, from Cumbria to Queensland.
Four of the best ways to send post cards home
Do off-the-shelf postcards feel too impersonal? ByPost’s free app lets you turn any holiday snap into a unique greeting, printed and posted to anywhere in the world. iPhone. Free (although it costs 99p to send the card you make). bypost.com
This app lets you send 140-second ‘wish you were here’ voice messages to Twitter contacts. They can be sent privately to one or more contacts or to the public timeline. iPhone/Android. Free. mytalky.com
Twitter’s new video clip sharing smartphone app, Vine, lets you record looping six-second videos with sound, so posts feel somewhere between a photograph and a video. iPhone (Android version imminent). Free. vine.co
If you forget to send a postcard, friends can see what you’re up to with Banjo. Link to Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Instagram to post pictures or for location-based social updates. iPhone/Android. Free. ban.jo
Published in the April 2013 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)