Before I traveled to Bolivia I bought a travel guide (Culture Shock: Bolivia which is from a great series that prepares you for things off the beaten path) and a survival phrasebook with a mix of Quechua and Spanish. This was how I prepared to travel in 2005. So much has changed since the widespread adoption of smartphones and apps. My smartphone and the endless apps available have evolved the way I travel.
There is an app for THAT … literally it does not matter what THAT refers to, there is an app to fill the void. Before traveling, I download one or two city guides. The bigger cities and tourist destinations have many options. The city guides provide maps, transportation details, local attractions with key information, and often deals. So what are my favorite travel apps? There are so many.
Location specific: There are apps for cities, museums, parks, festivals, etc. I love the apps from MyCityWay – like the NYC Way app. They have for many cities and countries. I visit New York for the museums, shopping, and food. I try to download the museum guides ahead of time, like MoMa. In Washington DC I use iTrans DC Metro for public transportation, National Mall Guide, Smithsonian, DC Going Out Guide, and the Cherry Blossom Festival app. In California there were many choices for San Diego, San Francisco, Napa Valley, even Suisun Valley had an app. Of course, traveling there required flying, and Gate Guru makes it easier with information on airports and flights. Other app options include guides from Fodor’s and Lonely Planet – depending on where you are traveling to.
Another travel app that I find necessary is a taste of home – in my case Starbucks – sometimes you just need a cup of something familiar to relax and prepare for a day of exploring the unknown.
I usually have bandaids but not a full first aid kid, having a medical advice app like WebMD is just a precautionary tool. Normally too much delicious street food is to blame. Speaking of which, food apps are a necessary part of my travel tool box. Eat St provides a food truck, TVFoodMaps lets Food Network addicts (like me) shows restuarants featured on shows by city, and of course UrbanSpoon or Yelp for food recommendations and reviews.
Travel for me is less about planning out exactly how to get from point A to B (and which destinations to visit along the way) – and more about utilizing tools to make sure that I get from point A to B with the chance to be spontaneous and make the most of traveling.