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Adventure Blog

Travel Apps

Buzz Poole
07/24/2012 - 05:58
kfon198I, via Cartoonstock.com

When I travel, I still leave a paper trail, or perhaps more accurately, accumulate a small paper mountain. I print itineraries and confirmations, scrawl addresses, cross streets, and restaurant names in margins. By the time I return home, no matter if after three days or three weeks, all these various sheets and scraps of paper are folded and crinkled into various pockets and pouches. I'm behind the times on this count, I know. But I spend enough time online that I don't feel the need to be "plugged in" all the time, especially on vacation. But I'm in the minority on this, which grows smaller and smaller as apps become more and more sophisticated and, admittedly, helpful, and in many cases absolutely free.

Go! Travel has compiled a list of its favorite apps, of which they insist: "By the time your trip comes to an end you’ll wonder how you ever managed without these portable pocket resources." Some of them strike me as pretty obvious, like Lonely Planet's City Guides, TripAdvisor, and Yelp. I've gotten a lot of use out of my Lonely Planet London city guide, the actual printed book, and return to TripAdvisor and Yelp all the time, but just through the websites.

A few of these apps do seem very smart, like WorldMate, which "not only synchronizes your flight, hotel, car and other travel bookings with your calendar, but you’re also able to see the weather forecast in your destination and geo-locate any address in your itinerary so that you’re able to find your way around with ease." I'd definitely save some trees with such organizational capability in my pocket.

Triposo is another new one for me and it "includes an overview map for the country and detailed city maps for the top cities. The maps work offline. It’s packed with practical information on major sights, restaurants and nightlife." Maps working offline is the real plus here. I've been with people who can't use an app because of a weak wireless signal or no phone service, which of course renders smart phones and apps pretty useless.

The most interesting app, based on its description is Ask a Nomad: "This Q&A app allows you to get answers from travelers and locals. It’s the ideal app to ask travel questions or help others by sharing insights and local advice from your own travels. Ask a Nomad app has info about places nearby, based on your GPS location." The site claims to let you "tap into the travel knowledge of more than 41,000 travelers from 129 countries." The idea of a whole network of locals available to answer specific questions in the moment is brilliant. That said, as I'm writing, the most recent queries have gone unanswered.

But let's not forget that spontaneity is crucial for a true adventure and as useful as all of these apps might be, they do not encourage spontaneity, which is something very much worth keeping in mind. We all traveled the world just fine before the advent of apps. Getting lost, discovering a gallery or cafe by chance, these are the true joys of travel. 

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