Speed up your holiday prep: the time-savvy apps and services for streamlined planning

Posted by
Amy Swales
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites

Nabbed an amazing last-minute holiday deal and now panicking slightly that jetting off is imminent and you've barely managed to locate your passport – never mind dig out a guide book, get that outfit dry-cleaned and decide what to actually fit in your case? Or perhaps the annual leave you booked ages ago is coming up fast and you still haven't even pinned down a location?

Well, for those of us who've always dreamt of being the kind of person who has a capsule wardrobe but in reality has a floordrobe, there are now apps, products and services all designed to streamline your holiday preparation to ensure you make the most of your well-earned time off. Bon voyage!


There are planning apps aplenty, so we've pinned down a few with different time-saving benefits.

Travelex's Luxury for Less is billed as luxury on a budget, so great for those who have a definite ceiling on their expenses, but want a touch of luxe. The user inputs their budget, then the app uses data from Skyscanner, exchange rates and previous spend of holidaymakers to create a holiday factoring in the cost of everything (from flights to hotels, food, drink, spending money and transport). Users can then book the suggestions through the app.

Meanwhile, once you've started booking the various components of the break – transport, accommodation, car hire, event tickets – you can forward all booking confirmation emails to TripIt (or allow it to automatically scan your inbox), which will slot everything into a handy itinerary which will set up alerts and can be viewed offline. If you've booked something over the phone by speaking to a real-life person, you Luddite you, details can be entered manually too.


If you are the aforementioned person who booked something over the phone, you're no doubt morally against the idea of a packing list app, given a pencil and paper can do the same job. But with an app you can easily categorise, set alerts for items you can't pack too far in advance (toothbrush, chargers etc) and schedule reminders. You can also refer back to the lists for the next holiday. The imaginitively named Travel List is one such app.

And yeah, we all know you're meant to roll your clothes or something (and of course, you've already read our piece on the essentials to pack in your hand luggage, right? Right?), but generally the art of packing well eludes most of us. Travel brand TUMI has packing cubes so you can separate clothing into outfits or categories, so firstly, it's easier to work out what to take with you for what occasion and secondly, to locate it once there without exploding the contents of your case across the room. From £45,


Holiday manis and pedis aren't essential, no. But we like them. Rather than rushing to leave work early (or using up your lunch break), new app Missbeez (main image) connects you with local independent beauticians who not only do home or office visits, but can work outside salon hours too for true convenience. Simply place an order and if someone's available, they'll come over.

All the usual hair and beauty services are catered for (though whether you order a wax in the office is your call...). Sadly, it's only London-based for now, but will be rolled out to other parts of the UK soon.

Those in the UK's other big cities can console themselves with a massage: Urban Massage has therapists available in Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow.


The choice of pubs, bars and restaurants somewhere new to you can be overwhelming, especially when you're more of a last-minute “Hey, I fancy a good beer right now” kind of person than someone who collates review scores from several websites and works out a list of spots to hit months in advance.

Beer fans can download Ratebeer ( or Untappd ( for suggestions and reviews of watering holes based on your location (we can't promise you won't get competitive collecting all the different beers you taste on Untappd though). For a wider range of booze, the Barchick app takes in more than 50 countries, and not only finds bars near you, but sometimes provides special deals and recommends a great serve if you're the indecisive type.

Similarly handy when out and about, Foodspotting is a visual guide with a worldwide community of users regularly posting pictures of great food. So far, so Instagram, but the way this works directs you to the food you want. Type in your preferred dish, pizza or steak say, and up will pop several pictures of pizza or steak that users have taken in the vicinity. So you can track down your specific craving, browse what people have been eating near you or look up a particular restaurant to see which dish everyone raves about.


If you don't want to wing it with Uber for an airport run (or don't fancy booking a scheduled ride that could be subject to surge pricing at the crucial moment), download an app that compares prices of minicab firms in your area – saving you the effort of ringing round. Minicabit is just one of several UK-wide cab comparison apps available, and collaborates with more than 800 firms. Use the website or app to compare and book quotes of any distance up to 12 months in advance.


If you're anything like us, you assume swanky lounges in airports are out of bounds to mere mortals. However, having certain credit cards can gain you access and you can often pay one-time fees. Rather than spend your precious time looking up all the separate info and rules, with app LoungeBuddy, you input your itinerary, any frequent flyer status you have with any airlines and the credit cards you use and it provides a list of airport lounges you can access on your trip, as well as reviews and photos of each. Especially good for flights with a connection – swap perching in Burger King for relaxing with a shower, free food and drink and a comfy chair.

Meanwhile, Holiday Extras is an app that brings together all the airport add-ons you might be considering in one place, such as hotels, parking, lounges, transfers, destination car hire and holiday insurance, all price-matched. Other extras include security fast-track passes and destination attraction tickets.


Dry-cleaning that comes to you: because you're nothing without that silk jumpsuit, but just found it screwed up next to the washing basket. Laundrapp collects your items, cleans them and delivers them back to you at a specified time and place: especially useful if you're super last-minute and need to have it sent to your work because you're heading straight to the station. It aims to deliver items back within 48 hours and serves several UK cities.

On the day of the trip, if there's something you've forgotten or broken and you don't have time to head out, Jinn is an on-demand, 24/7 courier service, currently available in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Madrid, with plans to expand. Order your item, a courier will travel as far as needed to collect it as long as the store is open and items are in stock, aiming to get it to you within the hour. There are several restaurants listed too, just FYI.

Happy travels...


Share this article


Amy Swales

Amy Swales is a freelance writer who likes to eat, drink and talk about her dog. She will continue to plunder her own life and the lives of her loved ones for material in the name of comedy, catharsis and getting pictures of her dog on the internet.