Are paid apps a smarter choice for travelers?

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I have been addicted to travel for most of my adult life. During that time, I’ve been to every continent except Antarctica. (I’m just waiting for the first McDonald’s to go in at McMurdo Station!)

When I’m planning a trip overseas, I will always buy travel guides at home and carry them with me as I go around sightseeing abroad. When I’m at the bookstore, the first thing I look at is the copyright date on the guide. (Yes, I still go to the bookstore!) Many times the info will get stale pretty quick, sometimes even before the book is published.

That’s why travel has ended up being a perfect fit with smart phones, for the more than 1 in 4 Americans who walk around with these devices. Smart phone apps can deliver up-to-the-minute info at the flick of a button. There are a number of paid apps that offer city guides and guided walking tours right in the palm of your hand. The problem is, you gotta pay for these things, and it’s anywhere from $2 to $5!  

I think about the guides that I buy in the bookstore, and they’re routinely $20 or $25. So I’m going to test some of these paid apps. They should, in theory at least, be more frequently updated than a book and have better functionality because of geo-location capability. In plain English, that means the app can track your location via GPS or from cell phone towers and then guide you through a walking tour. I’ll let you know if it’s up to snuff to use paid apps versus buying a traditional travel guide.

In the past, I’ve used things like the free AroundMe app that has allowed me to quickly locate nearby businesses when I’m in an unfamiliar city. In addition, I’ve used Yelp.com for user-generated reviews of those businesses.

But the sight-seeing is where the free apps don’t deliver and I want to see if the paid ones do. I travel so much, that you’ll be sure to know pretty soon what I found out!




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