8 Best Travel Apps for 2017

Though many of us enjoy a break from our digital lives when holidaying or travelling, there are a whole host of apps that have been designed to enhance our experience – from the planning stages through to booking your flights, hotel and finding your way around. We have compiled a list of 8 of our favourites for any traveller: 

 

 

Citymapper – City Breaks / Directions

 

Though this app started out as a way to find your way around London, it has since expanded to include information for over 37+ other cities across the globe. It is the ideal app for any city break with detailed maps and directions for all modes of transport (taxi/car, bus, tram, rail, cycling, walking, etc). Search for points of interest, get instant ETAs based on current traffic, see your friends arrive in real-time and save journeys for offline viewing. One of its newest features displays how many calories burned, trees saved and money saved by using public transport! For a list of cities or to vote for the next one to be added, visit https://citymapper.com/cities

> Available for iPhone and Android

 


 

Skiplagged – Flights

Want to save on flight tickets? Skiplagged details the price history of specific routes to let you know the best times to book and find “hidden-city” one-way ticket deals where you can get cheaper flights by stopping over – a great excuse to explore another city. If you’ve never travelled like this before, you should read thier hidden-city FAQ at http://skiplagged.com/faq. The app also details hotel discounts with special in-app rates and lists a number of travel deals, allowing you to receive notifications when prices drop and save up to 80%!

> Available for iPhone and Android

  


 

Tripit – Travel Itinerary

This app is a super handy piece of kit that will auto scan your emails to compile all your travel plans into one place. Alternatively, you can manually send confirmation emails for it to instantly create an itinerary. It can sync with your calendar and send notifications to remind you about events plus you can easily share specific plans, or your entire itinerary, with anyone else. Subscribing to Tripit Pro (£38.99 annual membership) gives you all this power plus real-time flight alerts, seat tracking, alternative flight finder, fare refund notifications, point tracking and more…

> Available for iPhone and Android

  


 

GeoSure – Health & Security

GeoSure is an invaluable app for travellers with state-of-the-art statistical analysis of health and security concerns for destinations worldwide. As well as pulling data from hundreds of renowned and trusted sources and local authorities, it includes crowd-sourced information from the global community of users who share personal accounts from wherever they are. Areas are given a safety score reflecting health risks, environmental threats, political uprisings and details of any thefts and assaults that may have occurred in the area. Experience the joy of discovering new places while maximising your safety.

> Available for iPhone and Android

  


 

MAPS.ME – Offline Maps

If you are looking for a map for your travels this app is the right choice. With over 40 million+ users and available for all popular devices, maps are well detailed and regularly updated. The best part? You don’t need to worry about internet connection or roaming charges as all maps are available offline – just make sure you search for the area you are visiting and download that area prior to travelling. With GPS navigation it provides driving, walking and cycle information for anywhere in the world, allowing you to bookmark all the places you are planning to visit for quick access and showing nearby points of interest, ATMs, public transport, attractions and restaurants.

> Available for iPhone and Android

  


 

Travello – Social Networking

This awesome app provides a new way of connecting with other travellers with similar interests. There is a noticeboard to search for upcoming plans, WiFi finder, chat facility for the new friends you add and ways to arrange meetups, find local deals and match travel plans. If you are thinking about getting recommendations or looking to meet like-minded people whilst travelling, Travello comes equipped with the tools to make it easy, fun and engaging. Their latest update adds video support so you can now share your experiences with people in over 180 countries!

> Available for iPhone and Android

  


 

WeatherBug – Weather

Though most devices have a stock weather app, WeatherBug is a cross-platform app that is powered by the largest professional weather network in the world. With real-time forecasts (current, hourly and 10-day), lightning detector, weather alerts and 18 maps to visualise your weather, this app gives you much more detailed information. Our favourite feature is the lifestyle forecasts which let you know how weather will impact your allergies, sporting events, workouts and more – quickly access pollen count, wind speed/direction, pressure, humidity and stay informed of hurricane forecasts and changing conditions. For all things weather in over 2.6 million+ locations, this is our go-to app.

> Available for iPhone and Android

  


 

Google Earth – Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is increasingly becoming more popular and what better use than exploring the planet without having to set foot outside? Google Earth has come a long way since it was first launched in 2005 and maps Earth using satellite imagery, aerial photography and geographic information system to generate a 3D globe. Features now include “tour guides” with step-by-step interactive adventures for discover exciting new places and curated content from the likes of the BBC and National Geographic. Whether you want to uncover the awe-inspiring architecture of the Taj Mahal or plunge into the depths of the Grand Canyon’s geological layers, this app provides you with the world in the palm of your hands.

> Available for iPhone and Android

  


Are there any other apps you think should be added to this list? Let us know in the comments or via our social media channels:

 

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5 of the greatest countries to celebrate Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras: the colourful winter carnival celebrated in cities all across the world. Bringing in huge crowds, delicious feasts, parades, parties and more. Here are the 5 of the greatest countries to celebrate Mardi Gras:

Goa, India

The Goa Carnival showcases the free, harmonious spirit that makes this Portuguese carnival so legendary. Beautiful floats covered in flowers and graceful dancers manoeuvre their way through the streets of Panjim to traditional the folk songs and strumming of guitars.

Mindelo, Cape Verde

Just off the coast of Senegal, the lush Cape Verde islands host a curious mix of Carnival traditions in the run-up to the fast. In the handsome town of Mindelo, jerry-built floats and curvy dancers sway to Creole coladeira punctuated by ululating African shrieks.

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Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

If you want to celebrate Mardi Gras by the pristine, exotic beaches of the Caribbean then Trinidad & Tobago is for you. Follow the sounds of the steel pan band as they lead the newly crowned Carnival King and Queen, dressed in dramatic, embellished costumes. The crowds that follow these parades are notoriously passionate, so much so that it can be hard to see where the performers stop and the crowd begin; so dress up, dance and join the party. Brace yourself for all-night parties and raucous steel-pan music. Two days before Ash Wednesday, paint, oil, and melted chocolate fly during the mas (masquerade) parades.

Rio de Janeiro

Arguably one of the most famous pre-Lent celebrations, the Rio Carnival draws millions of people to the city for one big samba party. Thousands of performers dance on decorated floats and compete in one of seven divisions for their choice of music, costume and themes. With dancers training all year for the festivities, you know they mean business and that it’ll be the show of a lifetime.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Beginning with a masked ball on the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6, celebrations build to fever pitch during five days of pre-Lenten parties.

Embrace the chaos and be seduced by the spirit of Carnival. Enjoy lavish parades, masquerade balls and the unforgettable atmosphere of Mardi Gras. It’s said that the first parade float was created by a society of wealthy men called the Mistick Krewe of Comus. From this day, different secret societies, or ‘Krewes’, join the party with their own floats, colours and costumes. One to look out for is the Krewe of Rex, who wear traditional gold, purple and green colours. Newer Krewes like Bacchus, Endymion and Zulu opt for glitz with celebrity appearances, marching bands and more than 1,000 riders.

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6 Romantic Destinations to take your loved one this Valentines

For that someone special

Maybe you are the type of person who likes to spoil their their significant other? Maybe your looking for an excuse to take your loved one on the holiday of their dreams? Or maybe, as a nice gesture, you just want to be able to spend some time with the person you love. If so, why not treat your other half to a trip out to one of these 6 romantic destinations to this Valentines Day.


6. Sānyà, China

Diverse in it’s culture, ethics, religion, architecture and cuisine, China offers some of the most amazing and romantic scenery in the world.

Sānyà offers 40 kilometres of pristine coastline partnered with a bustling city centre next to a long stretch of beaches and hotels. Being situated in the Hainan Province gives Sānyà the tropical monsoon climate it’s known for. Sanya is a noted tourist resort with incredible scenery. Mountains, rivers, beaches and the best seaview in the country, this is a place to spoil your loved one.

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5. Hawaii

If you are a couple that like exploring somewhere new together, Hawaii may be the place for you! Described as a ‘place like no other on earth’, the white sandy beaches, colossal mountain ranges and beautiful nature reserves make Hawaii the incredible place that it is.

There are six major islands to visit in Hawaii: Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and Hawaii Island each with its own distinct personality.

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4. India

India may not be the first place you think of when it comes to romance, but India is a place deep with culture and heritage that is guaranteed to move you and your partner.

Goa, Andaman, Agra are all destinations (amongst others) that are great to visit for celebrations! Find a somewhere to join the party or spend quiet romantic time with your lover, this place will cater to all your needs.

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3. New York City

Share a kiss at the top of the Empire State Building. The breathtaking views over the city that never sleeps makes this spot for ideal for a romantic date. But if you’re looking to take it one step further, splash out and spoil your significant other by taking them on a helicopter tour of the city!

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If you both prefer a more relaxed approach to spending Valentines Day, you should look into exploring the many art museums and galleries dotted around NYC.

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A valentines trip to New York City would not be complete without a lazy walk around Central Park – But don’t forget to wrap up warm as you may only experience highs of 4°C. So, if the being out in the cold isn’t your thing, you can check out some of the botanical gardens that New York has to offer.

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If you’re ready to brave the outdoors, then why not try out one of the most romantic wintertime traditions in the city – ice skating! Watch the ice-skaters at the Rockefeller Center rink, or tie on a pair of skates yourself.

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2. Venice

A romantic trip to Venice wouldn’t be complete without a Gondola ride through the city. This is a great way to get around and to take in the landscape.

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Enjoy the ballet or opera the Theatre La Fenice one of “the most famous and renowned landmarks in the history of Italian theatre”.

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If you happen to find yourself in St Mark’s Square, head over to the Campanile bell tower which is perhaps one of the most instantly recognisable symbols of Venice. At the top, you can enjoy spectacular views across the canals and roofs of the city. It’s open until the sunsets throughout the year, making for a very romantic evening with your significant other.

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1. Paris

Commonly known as the city of love. Paris has to be one the most romantic cities in the world. The world famous love lock bridge can be found in Paris, close to the Notre-Dame. Here, lovers from all over the world attached a lock engraved with a special message to the bridge.

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On an island in the middle of a lake in the Bois de Vincennes, the largest public park in the city, you can find the “Temple of Love”. A less well-known landmark in Paris, visiting the Temple of Love (also known as the Temple Romantique) means you won’t be sharing your romantic moment with dozens of other couples trying to do the same.

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Take a stroll down the River Siene admiring the boutique houseboats as you go. Below street level of the Quai des Tuileries, you will be able to find peace and comfort away from the crowds of people.

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Take in the view of the Eiffel Tower. A popular place for marriage proposals, the sweeping panoramic views of the city make it so perfectly romantic. But if you really want to go all out, make sure you take your loved one to view the Eiffel Tower at night. The 324m Parisian icon lights up the nights sky with a sparkly light show that will leave you lost for words.

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Find out your visa requirements on: thetravelvisacompany.co.uk

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Where to shop this christmas

Shop till you drop

With billions of people from over 160 countries around the world celebrating Christmas, purchasing the gifts that will make your loved ones face light up can be one of the most important parts of the festive season! There is a huge selection of stores, shops and outlets around the world …so here are some of the best places that you should be visiting for this years Christmas goodies!

New York

A trip out to the Big Apple brings you closer to some of the most lavish and luxurious brands out there, with big names such as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, DKNY, Estée Lauder, Tiffany & Co and Micheal Kors all based in New York City.

Take a stroll down the famous Fifth Avenue where you will pass many of Americas much loved department stores. Saks Fifth Avenue is a luxury American department store that puts products from some of the worlds top designers on sale with ten stories of cosmetics, clothes, perfume and more! But a shopping trip to New York wouldn’t be complete without exploring the Macy’s store – one of Americas largest department stores. This retail giant offers up almost everything you could possibly want from kids toys and clothing to trending fashion and top tech. International visitors can also take advantage of a 10% discount. If you are lucky enough to visit New York in time for Thanksgiving, be sure to catch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – a national event with over 50+ million fans tuning in to watch each year.

If you are lucky enough to find yourself in New York during the Christmas season, as well as shopping, there are a few extra things not to miss:

  • Get your skates on and head down to the ice rink at central park
  • Join thousands of New Yorkers and tourists and watch the lighting event at the world famous Rockefeller centre
  • or get yourself over to Macy’s Santaland (but don’t forget to make a reservation!)

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Munich

The Christmas markets of Munich are an annual historic event with its first Christmas market taking place back in the 14th century. Since then, they have grown massively – expanding to over 20 different locations within Munich, making it one of Europe’s most popular destinations for festive shopping! Take part in workshops, enjoy live music, feast on the delicious Christmas treats and explore this beautiful city.

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Feeling adventurous?

When it comes to Christmas markets, Europe and America are the places most talked about… but we shouldn’t forget that this is a celebration that takes place all over the world and places like Shanghai, Moscow and even Cape Town also take part in the festive celebrations.

Shanghai

Looking for a change of scenery? Enjoy all of the traditional celebrations like hot mulled wine/cider, toasted gingerbread and hot chocolate in the beautiful city of Shanghai. There are plenty of places you can go to in Shanghai to get those Christmassy feels. The Hilton Hotel and JW Marriott Shanghai take orders for traditional Christmas dinners so you can still tuck in to a roasted Christmas Turkey with all the trimmings!

The Hongqiao Flower Market in Minhang puts both real and artificial trees and wreaths on sale to the public as-well as some of the essential Christmas tree decorations. You will also find the Swedish megastore IKEA offering up mulled wine, cookies and other treats for the those hungry shoppers as Christmas draws closer.

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Moscow

In Moscow for Christmas? It’s going to be a cold one! Get your woolly hat, scarf and mittens on – with possible lows of -16 degrees, you are definitely going to need a cup of hot chocolate or mulled wine to warm you up. The annual “Journey into Christmas” is held in the Red Square  with 38 Christmas ‘zones’ that hold more than 100 stalls.

One thing not to miss is the Christmas light installations in Bolshaya Dmitrovka Street. This magical display is the perfect place to spend the evening. Walk through the tunnel of Christmas lights and explore the festive illuminations!

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Cape Town

Christmas eve in Cape Town pulls out all the stops. Enjoy Cape Town’s biggest, free open-air event – a spectacular laser, lights and firework display! Join thousands of Capetonians at the Adderley Street Christmas light switch on for the launch of the holiday season. If you happen to find yourself in South Africa during the holidays, why not celebrate Christmas on the beach? With temperatures reaching 25 degrees, relaxing on the beach might just be the best way to spend Christmas day!

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Let us know

Have you spent Christmas somewhere wacky and wonderful? Leave a comment below and let us know the most obscure places you have celebrated this festive holiday.

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Family Holiday Association Charity Day

Fundraising

If you didn’t already know, the team here at The Travel Visa Company have pledged to raise £500 for The Family Holiday Association. To raise this money, we decided to cycle the world in 24 hours!

The Family Holiday Association is the only national charity dedicated to providing British seaside breaks and day trips for families struggling with some of the toughest challenges life can bring.

We have had a brilliant few days of fundraising with the whole team taking part! Aside from the cycling, the two days saw the team take part in all manner of mini games and activities, ranging from our 1000 piece world map jigsaw (which is very close to being completed!) to in-office basketball as-well as a whole host of other activities to help raise money for The Family Holiday Association.

The Travel Visa Company Team

We are very proud to say that we have successfully cycled for 24 hours non-stop!

Our 19 participants managed to cycle 250 miles. During this time we…


Around The World In 24 Hours Infographic


Thank You!

To all the members of our team that took part in our cycle, Crewe Hall who kept us topped up with cold drinks and refreshments, STUDIO 4ORCE Personal Training who very kindly donated one of their exercise bikes for the event …and not forgetting Ange and Michelle from The Family Holiday Association who travelled all the way from London to visit us as we completed the cycle! We cannot thank you enough.

Don’t Forget

You can still donate and help us reach our target of £500! Visit our JustGiving page here.

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Around The World In 24 Hours

This year we have chosen to support The Family Holiday Association.

The Family Holiday Association is the only national charity dedicated to providing British seaside breaks and day trips for families struggling with some of the toughest challenges life can bring.

To celebrate our new relationship with FHA, we have pledged to raise £500 which will be raised through our latest (and greatest) charity event:

Around the world in 24 hours!

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On the 20th of July, Team Travel Visa will be carrying out a 24 hour non-stop cycle around the world! We have arranged for an Exercise bike to be set-up in the office, which has been kindly donated by the very generous people at STUDIO 4ORCE Personal Training, and we will be cycling the equivalent of 250 Miles / 400 Kilometres.

Visit our JustGiving Page to donate >

Now, obviously, to cycle around the world is a mammoth job! Especially in under 24 hours. Fortunately for us, our crack team of mathematicians have calculated a formula that will help us to achieve this goal!

So for each mile we clock on an exercise bike it will be 100 miles on the map. The circumference of the Earth is almost 25,000 miles (meaning we will need to cycle 250 miles).

We have given ourselves 24 hours to cycle around the world, but we hope to finish the cycle in 22 hours (if all goes to plan). The event will take place from 3pm on Wednesday the 20th and will continue into the night and through to the morning, with an estimated completion time of 1pm.

The Family Holiday Association is a charity that we, as a business, are passionate about and we are very excited to be able to raise money for a cause that we care so much about.

To donate to this chairty which really is close to our hearts, simply go to our JustGiving page.

Throughout the cycle we will be constantly updating our social media accounts so keep an eye out!

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SPONSOR – Studio 4orce

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All personal training sessions are conducted by John Howell, a fully qualified PT Instructor. John’s qualifications were gained though a leading UK Training Provider.

Rio 2016 Travel Requirements

British Citizen Passport Holders

For British Nationals, travel to Brazil does not require a visa. However:

  • You will need to comply with Brazilian immigration laws on arrival in the country.
  • You must satisfy the Federal Police (the Brazilian immigration authority) of your intended purpose of visit.
  • You will need to show that you have enough money for the duration of your stay.
  • Provide details of your accommodation and evidence of return or further onward travel.
  • Your passport should be stamped. If it is not, you may be fined on departure. Keep your immigration landing card. You will need it when you leave. If you lose it you may also be fined.
  • Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Brazil.

Information from www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/brazil/entry-requirements.gov.uk

The British Government have also released a useful guide to help you ‘stay ahead of the games’. It gives you advices and information about travel insurance, when is best to book, vaccinations, languages and more! You can download it here.


Other Nationalities

It comes as no surprise that the Rio Olympics are going to bring in a huge amount of foreign visitors, and so, the Brazilian Government are making it as easy (and as safe) as possible for travellers to enter Brazil. That is why they have introduced a temporary Visa Waiver Program (until the 18th of September 2016).

Australian, Canadian, Japanese and US nationals will not require a tourist visa to enter Brazil. Instead, they will be eligible for a 90 day, non-extendable, visa waiver.

*Note: you do not have to be attending the Olympic Games to take advantage of the new travel requirements.

If you want to check visa requirements of any other nationalities then, you can download this document (Entry Visas To Brazil PDF).

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Worldwide love for Doughnuts!

If you don’t like sweet treats, incredible desserts or down right deliciousness… then this blog post probably isn’t for you!

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Here, at The Travel Visa Company, there are many things we are passionate about, like: worldwide travel,  top notch customer service and our visa procurement services; but, there is one thing we all love; no matter what day of the week it is, and that’s FOOD!

After countless high profile meetings, intense and rigorous training sessions and hours of research and testing we have come to the conclusion that: Doughnuts really are our favourite sweet treat!

Just think about this: Doughnuts come in all manner of shapes, colours and sizes. Some are sweet and some may be sour. Some thick, some thin. Some big, some small. But are they really any different from you and I? Well, yes. Of course they are. They are doughnuts.

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So, let’s get down to the serious business. Which doughnut is best? Commonly, doughnuts can be either in ring shapes, sometimes with toppings; or, a complete doughnut bursting with all sorts of yummy fillings.

Three most popular brands of doughnut makers are Krispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts and Voodoo Doughnuts. These brands offer distinctive and delightful flavours, such as: cookie dough, lemon meringue, apple pie, chocolate eclair, frosted maple kreme and so many more!

However, you may not know that there are, in fact, other variations of doughnut from every corner of the globe. These include (most popularly): the Dutchie and the Cronut. The Dutchie being a square doughnut, glazed and with raisins cooked into the dough itself. The Cronut, on the other hand, is a cross between a doughnut and a croissant.

In fact, most nations have their own variations of doughnut. Here are a select few:

  1. China – The ‘Youtiao’ is a long golden-brown deep-fried strip of dough.
  2. India – The ‘Vada’ can be made from a range of ingredients including potato!
  3. Kenya – The ‘Mandazi’ is a form of fried bread that originated on the Swahili Coast.
  4. Russia – The ‘Pączki’ is a pastry that came from Polish heritage.
  5. Turkey – The ‘Tulumba’ is a fried batter soaked in syrup, similar to churros.
  6. Germany – very similar to a traditional doughnut, without the hole in the centre.

If you are wanting to combine your love of food and travel by tracking down these delicacies, we can assist you with all your travel visa needs. Call our award-winning team on 01270 250 590 or visit www.thetravelvisacompany.co.uk

Before ending this flavourful blog, we have one burning question to ask…

How do you to spell it?

A. Doughnut

B. Donut

Let us know on Twitter or in the comments below!

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