Travelling is exploring. We all have our more or less refined ways of exploring the world around us. Some love to have everything organised, some dread the idea of a trip with a strict agenda. Let’s face it though – it’s best to travel your own way and that includes using tech gadgets and apps. We have chosen 11 great apps that could actually come handy even if getting lost is something you dream of.
When it comes to exploring a new city you either sit down with a stack of guidebooks the week before setting off and research your socks off, or you can just take a leap of faith and enjoy a weekend of spontaneity. The PinDrop app caters to the latter, allowing you to drop GPS pins onto a map when you stumble across something interesting, or browse user-made lists recommending the best sights, sounds and flavours in town.
It’s Available on iPhone and it’s free. Check it out here.
This app, just like Travel World Passport, is currently in a phase of invite-only beta. We invite you to join here and for Schemer you might want to have a sniff around forums for a free invite. This is Google’s experimental take on a massive, crowd-sourced travel guide. As tech mash-ups go, it’s fairly straightforward: users leave recommendations for things to do in their city, which visitors can then add to a to-do list and check off as they go. Given the app’s youth, content is fairly sparse outside of the US at the moment, but should you find yourself on a business trip to Chicago with a couple of hours to kill, it’s a reliable alternative to coughing up for some out-of-date paperback companion.
It’s gonna be available on Android and it’s gonna be free!
When it comes to apps that aggregate crowd-sourced restaurant reviews ‘galore’ is the word that comes to mind. But Food spotting is special as it focuses in on specific dishes are a far rarer species. It works a treat, responding to your every gastronomic whim with user-generated recommendations from your local area. In downtown Madrid with a penchant for paella? Prod around a bit and within seconds you’ll be en route to the best in the city.
It’s available on iPhone, Android and Windows Phone and it’s free!
If you love to explore the cultural heritage you’re gonna love this one. Museums Mobile is a pocket-sized database of thousands of the world’s biggest museums, brimming with information on permanent and current collections. This is more than just a comprehensive companion to your favourite halls of history, as it uses your GPS location, it’ll also point you in the direction of museums in your area.
Available on Windows Phone and free!
Probably the most downloaded app in our selection. It shot to fame as a social networking tool, but this location-based app has become a great tool for curious travellers. The way it works is simple – fire up the app when you arrive at any given place (everything from restaurants to churches are listed) and you’ll see a list of tips from those who’ve been before you (‘good wi-fi’, ‘very crowded at lunch hours’, ‘try the cheeseburger’, ‘arrive by 9am for a good pew’, etc.). If you check in regularly enough and you’ll claim virtual mayorship of that particular venue, some venues even offer perks (a free pint, discounts, and so on) when you claim the crown.
Available on iPhone (free), Android (free) and Windows Phone (free)
Something for those who are planning a UK tour soon. Heritage App available for 69p – less than a confectionary bar features over 1800 places of historical interest across the UK, including English Heritage sites, CADW, Heritage Scotland, and over 300 independently owned and managed historical locations.So the next time you go to Great Britain you can revel in the underappreciated brilliance of good old England.
Available on iPhone (£0.69) and iPad (£0.69)
All those apps need internet connect, but with data roaming charges still laughably high, the first thing I want to find out is where to find a decent wi-fi hotspot. No need to charge through the city waving your handset around like a maniac, though – simply fire up this handy app and follow directions to your nearest source of wireless internet. Best of all, the offline mode means you can download maps before you go, thereby dodging a massive bill. A basic thing to have!
Available on iPhone (free), iPad (free) and Android (free)
If you’re tired of the glossy magnificence and marketing bulls#*t ladled on by just about every online travel agency out there you should try this app where you can find brutally honest reviews of hotels, restaurants, attractions and more. The user-base is notoriously hard to please, so be warned that you’ll most likely find exclamation mark strewn rants next to your favourite spots. Still, on the flip side, touch down in a strange city with nowhere to stay and you’ll only ever be a few prods away from the warts-and-all opinions of travellers just like you.
Available on iPhone (free), iPad (free), Android (free) and Windows Phone (free)
Handy though they may be, the trouble with guidebooks – and indeed their digital equivalents – is that digging through them to find the information you’re after invariably means less time appreciating the thing you actually came to see. This innovative bit of software solves the problem by reading the information (farmed from Wikipedia and its own database) directly into your ears. It’s a bit like one of those audio guides they hand out at museums but better!
Available on iPhone (£2.49) and Android (£2)
The only app in our selection that’s available on blackberry only, Localipedia is tasty mash-up of your handset’s native maps app and millions of Wikipedia articles, meaning you’re rarely more than a scroll and a click away from stacks of useful information about your surroundings. A fairly academic way to explore the world around you, but with a flask of something hot and an afternoon to kill, we very much doubt you’ll be inclined to complain.
Available on BlackBerry (free)
You are probably familiar with Time Out City Guides. Now you can check those in a form of a painstakingly researched, expertly written travel apps. Editions for more than 20 of the world’s biggest cities, each stuffed with comprehensive insights into the finest restaurants, bars, shows and exhibitions on Earth are definitely great help. Best of all, each and every one of these indispensible digital marvels is absolutely free.
Available on iPhone (free) and Android (free)
Those great apps can help you find your way around when travelling. But if you are looking for something more substential you might want to check the Travel World Passport – the project we are currently working on. As I mentioned it is an invitation only beta now but consider checking it. Our mission is to gather the most valuable, relevant and useful travel content in one place, where it is organized and easily searcheable. We trust that travel is about the feelings and the experiences, not just the places. And that feeling inspires us to be free, travel, inspire and be inspired. We hope You will join us and other modern day nomads, too. To request an invite click here.