How To Plan Your Vacation

It is summer the time when folk decide to escape the city heat - so, whether it's a holiday trip with the family, or by yourself, within India, or to foreign lands, here's a bunch of superb travel websites and apps that will help you plan a fun holiday. And even if you're an armchair surfer, there's something in here for you too.

Virtual tourist
Virtual Tourist is a social network for travellers that'll help you plan your next trip - it allows tourists to interact with one another and get a first-hand understanding of the place they intend to visit. Home to over 1.3 million members, this site has travel tips for over 63,000 destinations around the world. As a VT member, you also get to create individual pages for every destination. Each page is split into sections like Things to Do, Nightlife, Tourist Traps, Warnings, etc. You can browse by continent, destination, member, or by popular hotels. When you have a question, you can turn to the forum, which is always buzzing with activity. You can also use the PickPack app (Android, iOS, web) to share, organise and download photographs taken as a group.

Tourist link
Tourist Link is very similar to Virtual Tourist. Navigation is kept simple, letting you first choose your destination, after which you can browse categories such as Tourist Essentials, Eating, Shopping, Nightlife, Recreation and Events. Besides, there's even a section where you can find and book a hotel room within your budget. This India-based portal has many users from the country whose perspective can be invaluable when planning a holiday abroad. Tourist Link also has a Deals section, which features readymade package.

What better way to discover a new place than to visit it during one of its festivals? Fest300 is a onestop resource for dope on the top celebrations from around the world. This year, the site lists 270 events - including our own Diwali, Onam, Christmas in Goa, etc - with details about festival history, statistics , photos, videos, and other essential information including dos and don'ts. Travellers are invited to select the final 30 to complete the 300, as well as contribute photos and video 'festimonials' of those that they've witnessed. You can browse content by category, and more importantly, even use F300's map and calendar section to identify festivals by location and time of the year to help you coincide with your holidays.

Wiki travel and wiki voyage
Like all wiki projects, both these resources rely on the collaboration of travellers from around the world to populate its pages. Here, netizens create, update, edit, and distil each travel article to ensure that it is up-to-date and accurate. You can find ready-made itineraries, destination of the month, travel alerts, phrase and pronunciation guides for foreign languages, UNESCO destinations, picture of the day, etc. Just make sure you refer to both wikis before you embark on your journey. |

When on earth
This web resource is tailor-made for travellers - real and the armchair variety. Here you can read about the hidden beach on Mexico's Marieta Islands, a sewage processing plant in London that looks like a Byzantine church, Germany's walkable roller coaster, a bridge in Norway inspired by Da Vinci's design, the tree-climbing goats of Morocco, and more. WOE also has a section called TravelHacks with tips on how to pack like a pro, how to speed your way through airport lines, click better photos with your smartphone, etc. And there's even a section dedicated to cool travel gear.

Tripomatic is an app that lets you plan your holidays without any hassles. After you sign upyou can also use your Google or Facebook account to log in simply tap 'Add a new trip' from the main screen; then, select the city you are travelling to. If possible , also select the dates of your tour.Tripomatic will pull out ready-to-use travel itineraries depending on the duration of your stay; and even kid-friendly options. The app has details for over 400 destinations in its database. Tripomatic will list all the tourist spots and places you must visit, neatly plotted on a route map. You are also given the option to purchase offline travel guides for a fee. And finally, when you're on the road, you have all this information, readily available, at your fingertips.

Android, iOS | Free

Timescity caters to the most happening cities in India. So when you're in Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Goa, Bangalore, Jaipur, Pune, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad , Chandigarh or Ahmedabad, the app uses GPS location to give you information on eateries, pubs, events and movies near you.Click on 'Restaurants' or 'Bars and Clubs' , and you are served a list of establishments in your vicinity along with contact details, popular dishes, and even reviews. You can then sort the results based on distance from you, ratings and price. TC also lets users post their own reviews of the place they've visited: click on the 'Movies' button and you are shown all the flicks playing in theatres close by; you can even read reviews and watch trailers. Since Timescity uses your location, you also get detailed map routes.

Android, BB10, iOS | Free

Mapmyindia maps
If you are going to be visiting places within India, you should try MapmyIndia Maps. The app helps you with turn-by-turn directions, highlights places of interest (places of worship, ATMs, museums, malls, petrol pumps, police stations, etc) and traffic updates, if available.Maps cannot be saved for offline use, so your device will need to have an active internet connection. If your handset is not supported, you can still access the service on its website ( from your mobile browser. Also, if you are travelling in a group, it would be a good idea to also install ReachMe by MapmyIndia on all phones. When lost, you can send your coordinates to the rest of the group. The app, in turn, will give your friends directions on how to get to your location.

Android, Window Phone 8, iOS | Free