A beacon in the backpack.

I’ve recently acquired a smart phone. It’s smarter than I am anyway. It can remember my appointments, tell me if it’s raining and whip me at chess.

There are these things called ‘apps’ for smart phones. Maybe you knew that. I googled ‘How many apps are there?’ and the answer was 500,000. Approximately. Whatever you’re into, there’s an app. I’m into travel, so I googled ‘How many travel apps are there?’ on my ancient (2010 model) computer. A year ago there were 17,000 – ah, the field narrows!

I googled on. ‘Best travel apps’. 111,000,000 entries. Nobody seems to agree here, though a few apps turned up on several reviews. I ‘bought’ some – all free, naturally. I’m h(app)y with the ones I found…

Tripit – Tripit organises all your transport arrangements and hotel bookings to one itinerary, so that you can conveniently lose the lot by inadvertently dropping your smartphone between the seats in the departure lounge.

I was seriously impressed with this, actually. Mevrouw T and I have always guarded the paper printouts of our confirmations with our lives, so from now on they’ll all be registered on the Tripit website. Furthermore, we automatically get a map of the location of the hotels and other points of interest. All I need to do is remember my Tripit log-in pin.

EveryTrail is another one that was high on a few recommended lists. I’ll get a lot of use out of this one too.

EveryTrail is used by runners, walkers and cyclists to share their favourite routes, with photos, videos, audio and trip notes embedded in a cute little map. It brags about how fast they’ve climbed mountains or cycled the Tour de France route, and contains insiders’ info on strolls around the city.

The problem is that there are an awful lot of walks and bike rides – more than 400,000 according to the website. How am I to know what is a good one and which one leads you down a dead-end alley or out to a quiet country location where muggers lie in wait, ready to steal your smartphone?

Google Translate – Mevrouw T and I had a load of fun recording voice messages in Dutch and English and playing the audio translations back. They were sometimes hilariously way off the mark, but I still find it incredible that such voice recognition can be done at all.

It did well converting ‘Please stop this bus, I have diarrhoea’ into Dutch, but we can’t tell whether the Hindi translation was accurate. With luck we’ll never find out.

Urbanspoon lists restaurants and cafés in your vicinity. It’s limited to the US, Canada, UK and Australia for starters. We tested it out with places we know near where we live, and naturally didn’t always agree with the reviews.

There’s little information about the restaurants other than location and rough price guide, but you can always cross-reference with…

TripAdvisor, the great travel standby these days, and of course it has an app.

Wi-fi Finder gives the locations of hundreds of thousands of wi-fi points, free and paid, in the vicinity of your iPhone. But do I need wi-fi access to find Wi-Fi Finder? I hope not.

Okay, what other travel apps do people find useful? Please share your favourites, or let us know which ones are a waste of my phone’s c(app)acity. Are there tr(apps) for young players?


Filed under Budget travel, Cycling, Hiking

5 responses to “SMART TRAVEL FOR DUMMIES – by iPhone app

  1. I wonder what EveryTrail has to say about the Garfagnana. Or better still, walks from Casabasciana. My Italian smartphone can’t even figure out where I am when I’m on top of Monte Battifolle. I have more faith in the locals, but of course they don’t fit in my pocket.

    • If there’s a gap in the market, Heather (or even if there’s not) you can use EveryTrail to enter your own walk. Thousands are being loaded onto it every day. That way, people could carry YOUR expertise in their pockets around the Garfagnana.

  2. I also use TextPlus, which gives me a Toronto phone number so people can text me for free. Between that and Skype I have nearly free phone use.

  3. Pingback: EVERYTRAIL–into Sydney by bike and iPhone app | Richard Tulloch's LIFE ON THE ROAD

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