A little more than a month remains before the New Year holidays, which means that the winter vacation period is on the nose. Someone will go where it is always summer to bask on hot beaches, someone will prefer ski resorts and active pastime, and the rest of the “vacationers” will explore Russian or European sights in good waterproof shoes. And each of them may soon need a set of must-have applications, which I will tell you about today.
Let's get started!
We buy train tickets
Let's start simple. Ardent lovers of land transport, thrifty travelers, as well as those who are planning to spend their holidays somewhere nearby, will certainly use the services of Russian Railways. And here for buying tickets, I can not recommend something more convenient than the proprietary Russian Railways application.
This application is not only beautiful, intuitive and functional, but also one of the few that allows you to buy train tickets without additional commissions and other fees.
Also, recently, full integration with the RZD Bonus loyalty program has been supported: it is possible both to automatically accrue bonuses with each ticket purchase (if you indicate the program member's number in the list of personal data), and to buy tickets for points.
Well, one cannot fail to note the opportunity to enter the data of all family members once, so as not to waste time on this later.
- Download “Russian Railways for Passengers” for iOS
- Download “RZD Passengers” for Android
As an alternative, I can recommend the Russian Railways Tickets application (developed by Dmitry Strukov), but it exists only for the platform Android. Before the proprietary application appeared, I used this particular program and I know that it still remains quite popular.
The interface may not be as beautiful and modern as that of a branded product, but everything is simple, understandable and does not distract from the main task – buying train tickets (by the way, also without commission).
- Download “Russian Railways Tickets” for Android
Using meta-search engines
There is a unique paradox at work with online reservations for everything related to tourism and travel. In most spheres of life, it turns out that the more intermediaries between the buyer and the seller, the higher the final cost. And here we get the situation exactly the opposite – intermediaries allow you to save, and quite significant money. Let's take a look at a few of these services.
If with train tickets everything is more or less unambiguous due to the small number of alternative carriers, then with airplanes things are much more interesting: a large number of airlines, complex pricing (which means price changes almost every minute), dozens of different combinations of fares and flight rules . Moreover, it is not at all necessary that a ticket on the airline's website will cost less than on the website of one or another aggregator. It is in order to find the most interesting option in this abundance of flights and sellers that there are meta-search engines for air tickets.
My favorite one is Aviasales. The principle of operation is the simplest: we enter the city of departure and the city of destination, the desired dates or date range, as well as the number of passengers. At the exit, we get all possible options, both direct and with transfers. Sorting by default is carried out by price, and in the adjacent tabs you can see only direct flights or the best options. There are also filters, thanks to which you can narrow the search range, for example, by the time of departure or arrival, by the number of transfers, by the conditions of baggage transportation and much more. If the price on the specified date is not satisfactory, the application will show on which day the flight will be cheaper.
It is important to note that Aviasales does not sell tickets, but redirects to the website of the airline or aggregator, which provides more favorable conditions than the airline itself. Tickets are issued and purchased there.
- Download Aviasales for iOS
- Download Aviasales for Android
As an alternative, I suggest using SkyScanner, which, by and large, replicates the functionality of Aviasales. However, a couple of times I was able to find a more profitable option in it, which for some reason was absent in Aviasales, so now I always check the prices in both search engines. If you want maximum savings, you can do the same.
- Download SkyScanner for iOS
- Download SkyScanner for Android
If you have booked a hotel online at least once in your life, you probably know about such services as Booking and Ostrovok. In fact, these are aggregators of hotels (as well as apartments, hostels and other places of residence), but it often turns out that prices on different sites differ. Therefore, here I recommend using meta-search engines like Aviasales and SkyScanner only for hotels. The most popular of them are RoomGuru and Hotellook.
The principle of operation is very similar to what we saw in air search engines: we enter the city, dates, number of persons – at the output we get all possible sentences, the list of which can be reduced by filters. It is immediately shown through which aggregator this or that option is more profitable to book.
The list of hotels can be viewed on the map, which will be convenient for those who want to immediately find their way around the area.
RoomGuru and Hotellook also do not sell anything themselves, but only redirect to the website of the final service, where booking and payment are made.
- Download Roomguru for iOS
- Download Roomguru for Android
- Download Hotellook for iOS
- Download Hotellook for Android
Those who, for whatever reason, do not want to organize their vacation on their own, can trust the tour operators and buy a ready-made package tour, which includes flight, accommodation, transfer, meals and more. And in this area, there are also meta-search engines that search for offers from tour operators and give out the most profitable options. I can mention the two most popular service applications Travelata and Level Travel.
The principle is still the same: fill in the desired destination, dates, number of tourists – we get a list of options and all kinds of filters by star rating, type of food and much more.
In both apps, you can add interesting tours to your favorites and track price changes, and in Travelata, I liked the ability to search for hot tours with departures in the coming days.
Checkout and purchase also take place on the websites of the end tour operators, where these applications will redirect you.
- Download Travelata for iOS
- Download Travelata for Android
- Download Level Travel for iOS
- Download Level Travel for Android
Keep in touch
If you are planning a vacation abroad, you need to decide in advance on the roaming offer.
The first thing to look into is your carrier's roaming offers. The same MTS and MegaFon with the Zabugorische and Roaming, Goodbye options, respectively, allow relatively inexpensive use of their packages even abroad (300-350 rubles per day in popular countries), including both calls and mobile traffic. This is the simplest option without the need for unnecessary gestures: we clarified the conditions for your operator and region, connected the desired option and use your smartphone at home.
This option is suitable in case you do not want to limit yourself in communication and use both the mobile Internet and the ability to make and receive calls as usual.
The second option, which is suitable for roaming, is a tourist SIM card. To be honest, I have never used it myself, but I have heard positive feedback from my colleagues about the DrimSim operator. This thing is especially useful for owners of dual SIM devices.
DrimSim is suitable for those who need a small amount of traffic on vacation and practically do not need to call. There is no monthly fee here, you pay only 10 euros for the SIM card itself and top up the balance by at least 5 euros. Charges are made only for actually made calls or Internet sessions. The cost of 1 MB (per kilobyte rounding) of mobile traffic in most popular countries is only 1 euro cent (about 75 Russian kopecks at today's exchange rate), that is, the cost of 1 GB will be about 800 rubles. Online serials, of course, will be expensive to watch, but communicating in social networks or messengers, flipping through the usual news feeds, is quite comfortable.
A SIM card can be ordered in the DrimSim application (courier delivery), there is also information about the current cost of services in any country in the world and replenishment of the balance if the card is already in your hands.
- Download DrimSim for iOS
- Download DrimSim for Android
Making a list of attractions
I believe that ideal travel preparation should include making a list of attractions you want to see. And for this, I recommend using data from several sources at once: various online travel guides, articles, travel blogs. But for me, a person inclined to leave everything for the last moment, this is not always the case. Therefore, for myself, I chose two applications in which such a list can be made on the run: 2GIS and TripAdvisor.
The first allows you to learn about many sights in Russian cities, Cyprus, the UAE and Prague. For a number of popular cities within 2GIS there is a full-fledged guidebook, but even if it is not there, there is a section “Interesting places”. All points of attraction can be viewed directly on the map – it is so convenient to make hiking routes from one point to another. Another advantage of 2GIS is that all information is available offline, you just need to download a map of the required region in advance.
In addition to cultural sites, in 2GIS you will find iconic restaurants, cafes, bars, beaches and much more that may be of interest to the tourist.
I use TripAdvisor for other destinations that are not available in 2GIS. The points of attraction are categorized here: “Top Fun”, “Historic Sites”, “Nature and Parks”. If you go into the filters, you can find several more categories. There is also a wealth of information about food service outlets.
The main advantage of TripAdvisor is a huge database of reviews about a particular property, having studied which you can make an informed decision whether to go there or not. By the way, here you can read a lot of interesting things about hotels, which means that the program is also relevant to use when preparing for a vacation.
- Download 2GIS for iOS
- Download 2GIS for Android
- Download TripAdvisor for iOS
- Download TripAdvisor for Android
This set of applications seems to me the minimum necessary for every tourist who plans to go on vacation in the near future. And it's just great that today almost all travel arrangements can be done right on the screen of your smartphone.
If I got to the point with this material and you are really going to go somewhere, then have a great trip, unforgettable impressions and a positive rest!