Travel apps on portable devices encourage spontaneity on the road

Posted December 3, 2013


Victoria Humphrey stands in the middle of a small group of young adults at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin. Her tour guide is rambling off facts about Berlin’s history and suddenly pulls out his cell phone. He explains all about an application that he uses when giving tours and suggests the group follows along.

Humphrey is a 20-year-old student at the University of Miami who spent the past spring semester studying abroad in Rome. On the weekends, she traveled to neighboring countries to get the most out of her experience.

“I didn’t have class on Fridays or Mondays so I was able to go sightseeing in other countries very often. Plane tickets weren’t too expensive so we were able to see a lot of different places,” she said.

Growing up a flight attendant’s daughter, travel is second nature for Humphrey. Weekend getaways to Hawaii, Puerto Rico and New York are very common but spending a semester overseas left plenty of time for exploring.

“I used different travel apps to decide where I wanted to eat or what monuments to visit when I traveled, but Rick Steves’ podcast tours were my favorite,” she said. “They were very helpful.”

Steves is an Oregon author and television-radio personality who focuses on European travel. He posts podcasts on his website, available for download, so travelers can use them for guided walking tours. He describes the area as well as offers historical facts about landmarks. Best part about them is that they are free.

Travel apps are on the rise and provide more information than any map ever could. Triposo was developed in 2011 by a former Google software engineer, Douwe Osinga. The app has more than three million downloads and is gaining more recognition. It focuses on travel and technology as well as spontaneity.  The staff does Top 10 lists on different cuisines or travel destinations. This is perfect for young travelers yet, not many use it.

“I’m sure if I knew about it I would have used it while I was abroad,” Humphrey said.

Dana Monteiro is a music teacher in Harlem who travels very often whether for leisure or research. He has never used Triposo but after a little research, the app got his approval. On more recent adventures, Monteiro has used Lonely Planet for his South American trips, rated one of the best travel apps by CNN.

“I used it while I was in London and I could see the map offline and it doesn’t use data when roaming overseas, which is really helpful,” Monteiro said. “I also study a lot on Google maps before I go. Streetview helps me see where I am going before I go.”

With consumers being very dependent on cellphones, more applications to assist with travel need to be developed. Apple and Android users currently have access to a large number of resources but others are lacking. Development of more mobile-friendly apps needs to happen in the near future. As the industry continues to develop, more people will travel more and be able to experience more things.

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