Planes, trains, and automobiles: Apps to get around the UK this holiday season

Planes, trains, and automobiles: Apps to get around the UK this holiday season

The holidays: a time to take a break, eat loads of mince pies, and traverse the English countryside visiting family and friends. As Steve Martin and John Candy proved in the classic film Planes, Trains and Automobiles, traveling around this time of year can be hectic and pricey. Luckily, there are a ton of apps that’ll help you get wherever you need to be quickly, easily, and with minimal impact on your wallet this holiday season. As Chris did for the US, here is the best way to get around the UK using mobile apps this holiday season.


SkyScanner (iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, Windows 8Blackberry)

SkyScanner is one of the most popular flight comparison websites, and its accompanying mobile apps let you find the best deals wherever you are. You can find and sort flights by destination, price, flight time, and airline. Whether you’re looking for something specific or are flexible with your travel dates, this app can help you fly home relatively cheap this holiday season. The coolest feature of the app is the graphic visualization to compare flight prices day-to-day.

SkyScanner for iPhone

Momondo (iPhone, Android)

Momondo is another great flight (and hotel) comparison site with an app that gives you info on the cheapest day and airline combinations for flying. It’s essential for helping you decide which day you’ll fly home for the holidays without having to manually select and view each one to find the cheapest dates. Momondo lets you book directly in the app too so that you won’t miss out on any of the deals you find on your mobile.

Momondo for iPhone

easyJet (iPhone, Android, Blackberry)

As far as low-budget airlines go, easyJet is one of the better ones, and this is reflected in its mobile app. You can search, purchase, and manage your flight using the app, including choosing your seats, checking in, downloading your boarding pass, and tracking your flight. It may be a budget airline, but the app makes the search, purchase, and travel process pretty seamless, as long as you’re not sitting next to anyone too crazy.


National Rail Enquiries (iPhone, Android)

The National Rail Enquiries app is the all encompassing train travel app for a Brits’ most beloved form of travel. You can compare the train times of all different train lines, plan a journey, track trains, get live departure and arrival times, get push notifications for disruptions or delays…basically, it gives you any detail you’d ever want to know about a scheduled train. You can even get an alert that’ll wake you up at your stop, in case the hectic holiday season has worn you out. You can’t purchase tickets within the app, but you will be redirected to third party websites if you wish to do so.

thetrainline (iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry)

If what you’re really looking to do is purchase train tickets, try thetrainline app. A part of the independent retailer, the app lets you purchase tickets for any national rail service, comparing departure times, travel times, and prices. Some rail services even support e-tickets so that you can complete the entire search, purchase, and travel process on your mobile phone! The only thing it won’t do is help pack you bags!

thetrainline for iPhone

Rail Tickets (iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry)

A lot of rail services have their own apps too: Rail Tickets, for example, is the app for First Capital Connect trains across the UK that lets you book train tickets without a booking fee, check schedules and delays, and create an account for easy re-booking if your frequently take the same journey. If you use one rail service more than another, a specific app that lets you save your details and journey info may be your best bet.


Carpooling (Android, iPhone)

If flights are too expensive and trains are fully booked or facing major disruptions, what’s the next option? Try the Carpooling app, a part of, to get where you want to be this holiday season. As one of the largest carpooling services in Europe, the mobile app could be the best way to help you quickly find a ride if you’re in a crunch. You can book a ride directly within the app, as well as create a free account by connecting with your Facebook profile.

Carpooling for iPhone

You’ll also be able to see the driver and other passenger’s profile and ratings to help make your journey as minimally awkward as getting into a car with strangers can be.

Find a good riding companion using Carpooling(Source)

Waze (iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, Symbian)

If you want to beat the holiday traffic but the 6pm traffic report on BBC Radio just isn’t quick enough, try Waze. It’s a crowdsourcing app that gives live road and travel conditions based on reports that users on the road create. If there’s an accident, delay, or major traffic jam, you have the potential to know about it immediately using this app. But it’s not all bad news: it also gives you alternative routes so that you can still make it home in time for roast turkey and potatoes.

WhatGas Petrol Prices (iPhone, Android)

The last thing you want is to get stranded on the side of the road with no petrol hours before Christmas dinner. That’s where the WhatGas Petrol Prices app will come in handy. You can get information about the closest petrol station, as well as the cheapest price for petrol in close proximity. This app also relies on crowdsourced information, which means that people, including you, can report on the prices of petrol at any particular station to give and share the most accurate information and (hopefully) keep petrol prices down.

WhatGas for iPhone

Maybe if Steve Martin had any or all of these apps, he wouldn’t have been stuck next to John Candy on his way home for the holidays. Then again, we wouldn’t have had such a holiday classic. But, in this wonderfully technological age, these apps can help you avoid that situation and get home in time for the holidays!

[Header image: source]

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