Five Favorite Things: Apps for Travel

Five Favorites, Travel

As a millennial, I am required to be glued to my phone at all times; it is the first thing I reach for in the morning and the last thing I check before I sleep each night. So it’s only fair that I use it frequently throughout my travels. In keeping with my five favorite things lists, this one’s dedicated to my five favorite apps (specifically for travel, but also just in general).

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Pinterest

One of my favorite apps for planning a trip is the Pinterest App. I usually use Pinterest on my computer up until the trip starts then switch over to the app once I’m on the move. Pinterest is really nice for planning quick day trips, figuring out nice photo ops, or plotting the next stop. It helps to have a specific board created for the trip that will allow you to keep everything neatly in one spot rather than twenty tabs open on your web browser. You can then use the inspo you grab from Pinterest on your favorite mapping tool.

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Google Maps

I love my Google Maps app. I use it daily to check Metro times or to figure out what offices are in the building I’m passing. I hid the Apple Maps as it just wasn’t cutting it. One of my top tips for Google Maps is starring or marking every stop you want to hit on your trip. Once everything is marked you can see what’s clustered together or spread out. And if an adventure ends earlier than expected you can pop into one of your second tier activities. Another tip: download the map for that city so you can use the app off Wifi. Everyone loves a good map app.

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CityMapper

Another great map app is CityMapper. While Google Maps is good for walking directions and general orientation, I find it doesn’t always have the best transit recommendations. Insert CityMapper. CityMapper, while only available in a few cities, has the best recommendations for public transportation. And you can measure how far you’ve traveled by foot, bike, train, bus, you name it. It’s just another good one to have in your pocket.

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Instagram

I know I’ve talked about Instagram and travel before, but it’s actually a pretty good app for recommendations. Whether you’re inspired by a friend’s trip or want to see life through the eyes of a local in insert city here, it’s a good app to show you what’s out there to be seen. There’s a few different ways to use Instagram: you can follow your friends or your favorite celebrities or any of the thousands of travel inspiration accounts to see where you might be interested in going.

file7Another tip is to use the app’s search function to see either hashtags of your destination or to use the actual location tags. You can find music festivals or national celebrations or parades using their hashtags, especially now that every event has an official hashtag. Using the location tag gives you an insight to where something is, how people take photos, or even what the dress code is for the place you’re heading. (I recommend that any nervous about how people dress at their study abroad location check the hashtags and location for their university or town to see what people wear to class.) It’s a really versatile app and makes connecting with your friends so much easier both on your trip and when you return.

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Been

I’m not gonna lie, one of my favorite things is adding a new country to my list. I’m at 29 countries as of writing and always plotting how to add more. But somethings I struggle to remember where I’ve stopped before. Thankfully there’s a super simple app for that. It’s called Been and it creates a map of the countries you’ve visited (as well as the states visited in the US for those of us trying to hit all 50). It’s really easy to use, doesn’t require WiFi, and it’s fun to see what ‘percentage’ of Europe you’ve hit after your trip. Plus you can take a screenshot and send it to your friends to compare your journeys.

There’s a thousand apps out there (probably more) which you might find useful or a total waste of space – it’s up to you. Other favorites are Duolingo for learning basic phrases, Splitwise for splitting costs between friends, Facebook Messenger for messaging family and video calling on WiFi to both computers and phones, WhatsApp for texting, YouTube and Netflix for entertainment, 1010! for a quick and mindless game, and of course, the Camera app for snapping your memories.

One last tip: make sure you download as many apps before you leave the U.S. (or your home country) as some apps aren’t available to download or set up outside your country of origin.

 

Instagram Rules for Traveling

Five Favorites, Travel

It’s the millennial question: do you travel to Instagram? Or do you Instagram your travels?

I’ve got a long list of places I want to visit and some of those are inspired by my friends’ travels, as seen through the lens of Instagram. I don’t find that I’m suddenly willing to find New York worth a visit because of the filters and the clever captions I read online, but I find that it offers a new perspective to the experience of discovering (or rediscovering) a city or a country.

In order to enjoy my trips looking somewhere other than my phone screen I have a selection of five rules (or guidelines) that allow me to use Instagram and fully enjoy my trip:Screen Shot 2018-07-08 at 9.51.15 PM

Snap and Move On

I find that when I see something beautiful or interesting, I don’t want to restrict myself from attempting to capture it in the moment, but that doesn’t mean I should just keep staring at my photos. So I tell myself to snap a quick photo (or ten) and then put the phone away. I do not look through my photos while I am still in a gorgeous place, nor do I post while I am still there. Sitting on a bus or chilling in your hotel room late at night are the times when social media scrolling is appropriate.

Be Inspired, But Original

I don’t want my Instagram feed to be a carbon copy of someone else’s, so I follow the rule that I can be inspired by someone’s photo or choice of perspective, but I won’t copy. This is a little harder with things that have been photographed a thousand times, like the Eiffel Tower or Gullfoss, but it’s always worth it to try a new angle or a different photo stop.

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Mix It Up

I try to not post the same photos over and over again. This is difficult when traveling because all I want is to post similar shots of cute doorways or gorgeous landscapes over and over. So I try to add a little variety, whether it’s a picture with me in it or a picture of a mountain intermixed with the cityscapes. I’m not a specialty Instagram, so posting my meals every day isn’t capturing my experience.

One is Enough

I don’t live by the rule that you can only post once a day on Instagram, but I do find that it is a platform for the good old mantra “less is more“. I don’t like, nor do I need, the ability to post multiple photos at once, so I don’t use that feature. Instagram gives a curated perspective and forces the most stunning photos to be prioritized. If I’m in an absolutely breathtaking location, I’ll post twice in a day, but with some distance between posts, so that I avoid taking over anyone’s feeds. If I want to post twelve photos in a day, that’s what Facebook or Flicker are for.

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For Me, Not For You

I post on Instagram for myself, not for anyone else. It is my visual diary book, taking me through the past four or five years of my travels. I post for myself, not for likes. I scroll for happy inspiration, not for validation. If that ever changes, the app will be deleted from my phone, just as Facebook and Twitter have. At the end of the day, if I’m traveling to post on social media, I’m missing the great parts of what made these adventures so valuable to me in the first place.

What are your rules for internet posting while traveling?

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