Often, the anticipation of going on holiday is almost as exciting as the holiday itself; seeking out destination inspiration, daydreaming about the restaurants you'll visit (and downloading the menu and choosing your meal, anyone?), and jotting down those can't-miss local beauty spots.
Of course, on an escorted holiday with Great Rail Journeys, all the most important details are planned out for you. Our destination experts carefully craft itineraries that make sure you experience the best your destination has to offer, without having to lift a finger - hand-selecting the most convenient hotels, the most exciting excursions, and the most scenic routes for you.
But, with free time built into every holiday, we know how exciting it can be to plan out your leisure time. Luckily, technology these days can help make that planning a breeze! Here's our round-up of the best websites and apps that you need to know about so that when the world is ready, you're ready to explore.
For planning your free time: TripAdvisor
As one of the world's most popular travel planning websites, if you've ever searched for a hotel or restaurant online, you've probably wound up on here. But, there's actually a lot more to TripAdvisor. Alongside the helpful restaurant and hotel reviews, you'll find lists of top attractions and hidden gems in destinations far and wide. There are also forums that you can head to for detailed travel advice, and even an itinerary planner on the app's 'My Trips' feature, so you can carefully map out how you're going to spend your free time away.
For unique local insights: Facebook
You might know it as the place you share family photos or amusing status updates, but with billions of users from across the globe, Facebook is the place to head to for local destination insights. Search your chosen town or city, and you're likely to find a local group - essentially a forum filled with locals and seasoned tourists who are passionate about the destination. Ask for off-the-beaten-track recommendations, join in with group chats, and get a unique sense of the local culture.
For smart packing: PackPoint
Packing can be one of the most stressful parts of holiday planning, and there's where PackPoint comes in. Simply enter your destination, the length of your holiday, and what you're planning on getting up to (such as soaking up the sun on the beach or indulging in fancy dinners) and the app does the rest, creating you a personalised packing list. It can even check the weather for you! It's completely hassle-free and ideal for those who find packing a chore.
For armchair exploring: Google Maps
With hundreds of countries around the world mapped and the option to virtually stroll the streets on Street View, Google Maps means you can find your way around a new city before you even step foot there. It's the ideal way to visualise your trip and helps you know what to expect before you arrive. Plus, if you already know where you're going to be staying, you can get directions (and even virtually follow the route) to the nearest landmarks, bars, grocery shops or pharmacies, all from your smartphone - handy!