I’ve recently returned from four glorious days in Italy. Thanks to many recommendations from the Rock My Style audience (that’s you!) James and I had a trip filled to the brim with gorgeous sights and scenery.
Rather than just list through our itinerary which would read very similarly to all your comments on the original post, I thought it may be helpful to provide a little rundown of the apps and various technological wizardry that I used to plan the trip.
I always begin my search by logging into my Quidco account. For those of you who aren’t familiar with cashback sites such as Quidco and Topcashback, they feature thousands of retailers on their website. Each time you shop through a retailer listed on their site, the website earns commission for generating a sale. In turn you get a reward in the form of cashback! These types of sites are great for stopping by to check insurance deals, flight offers and hotels, as well as non-holiday purchases such as mobile phone promotions and car insurance specials.
Hotel Reservations and Reviews
Once logged into a cashback site, my go-to website for reserving hotels is always booking.com. I also like to cross reference to Trip Advisor to check that I’m not making a mistake.
Booking.com operate on a star rating basis and also include a helpful description too. In this case the Quercia Belvedere Relais was classed as ‘exceptional’, and I would have to agree. Set amongst the olive groves and vineyards of Bardolino, the hotel was idyllic and we had a very relaxing stay in the converted barn making full use of the facilities including the hot tub and honesty bar.
With a huge list of suggestions we decided to split our stay into three with a day in Verona, two days on the Lake and time permitting, a day trip to Venice. I appreciate this sounds quite ambitious and there is no way we could have achieved this in the height of summer. However Lake Garda in particular was very quiet at the start of May and we were able to travel and park easily in all the towns we visited. I imagine that this would be the case if you were visiting in September too.
Obviously as a Brit I am obsessed with the weather and religiously check my forecast.co.uk app to check the impending conditions. We spent one day on the south and west of the Lake visiting Lazise, Sirmione and Salo, and then the next day driving around the north and east taking in amazing mountain backdrops around Tarbone, Limone and Malcesine. There are millions of weather apps around but I’ve found this the most accurate providing an hour-by-hour forecast. Though the roads around Garda can be covered in a couple of hours, the weather was far windier in the north (hence being a fab watersport location) and the app helped us plan the best times to visit each area.
We experienced a few problems with wi-fi access during our stay so had to rely on data bundles through our service provider. Orange provide an app called ‘Roam Angel’ and for a few pounds a day you can get a limited amount of data usage. Once you’ve reached your daily limit you have to give consent to pay an additional fee, so you don’t get any scary bills at the end of your holidays. As well as checking in on RMS comments we also used the internet to do a lot of research on travelling to Venice. In the end we chose to drive all the way in to the capital of the Veneto region and paid an eye-watering fee to park, though in the grand scheme of things it was cheaper than getting a coach trip and gave us greater flexibility. Due to a very disappointing experience with a car-rental company (who shall go unnamed, but in short they will never be used again) we had to use data roaming to utilise Google Maps. This didn’t use too much of the data allowance and justified the cost of the daily allowance as it was cheaper than hiring a sat-nav.
I can just about get my head around translating euros into pounds (working out that Prosecco was WAY cheaper with much larger measures in bars in Lake Garda than in the UK). For any other travels I use the xe.com site directly but apparently they have a very fancy-scmanzy currency app too.
Obviously I made full use of my Instagram app and posted far too many photos but the whole place was far too darn pretty not to. Once again, thanks so much for all the recommendations they were greatly appreciated.
What apps and websites do you use when planning trips? Have you found any to be essential, or that have really improved your holiday experience? Anyone else get a bit happy with the cashback sites too? Hope a second travel post this week has got you all in a Bank Holiday Weekend mood. Have a great one!