With the right apps, in­for­ma­tion abroad is at your fin­ger­tips

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - DAVID CAR­ROLL

SOME­trav­ellers like to plan ev­ery minute of their trip be­fore de­par­ture. Oth­ers are happy to fill in the gaps when they ar­rive, and that’s where mo­bile de­vices can re­ally prove their worth.

As soon as they touch down, trav­ellers can turn to a va­ri­ety of ap­pli­ca­tions to find a city’s best at­trac­tions and en­joy in­sider tips.

Some of the best apps come from Time Out (time­out.com); for decades, this com­pany has been pub­lish­ing guides com­piled by hip lo­cals to the ac­tiv­i­ties, at­trac­tions, bars, en­ter­tain­ment and nightlife in some of the world’s most ex­cit­ing cities.

Time Out’s free apps of­fer in­for­ma­tion based on a user’s lo­ca­tion, a city’s top at­trac­tions, edi­tor’s picks, and ran­dom ideas for those who j ust want to be in­spired. The only down­side is that at the mo­ment less than a dozen cities are fea­tured, in­clud­ing Syd­ney, Lon­don, New York and Buenos Aires.

Lim­ited con­tent does not ap­pear to be a prob­lem for Vi­enna-based TripWolf (tripwolf. com), which com­bines in­for­ma­tion in es­tab­lished travel guides with rec­om­men­da­tions and re­views from thou­sands of like­minded trav­ellers.

TripWolf claims to now cover more than 50,000 des­ti­na­tions, with users search­ing for in­for­ma­tion by coun­try, re­gion and city, and then down­load­ing the de­sired guide di­rectly to their iPhone. The com­pany of­fers a free app, but it con­tains lim­ited func­tion­al­ity, so to take full ad­van­tage you need to pay for a pre­mium ver­sion.

The most so­phis­ti­cated app for the switched-on trav­eller, how­ever, was re­cently un­veiled by travel ex­pe­ri­ences spe­cial­ist Vi­a­tor (vi­a­tor.com), a com­pany launched in Syd­ney but now based in San Fran­cisco.

The Vi­a­tor app is free and of­fers 9000 ac­tiv­i­ties and tours in more than 750 des­ti­na­tions across 150 coun­tries.

The com­pany’s in-house ex­perts se­lect each of the op­er­a­tors fea­tured and claim to reg­u­larly re­view them for qual­ity, value and ser­vice. Users can also tap into 260,000 pho­tos and re­views by the com­pany’s clients who have ex­pe­ri­enced the prod­uct.

The site has a num­ber of ways of serv­ing up op­tions.

It can, for ex­am­ple, dis­play fam­ily-friendly ac­tiv­i­ties or iden­tify only those tours that pick you up from your ho­tel lobby. But, un­like most ri­val apps, it does more than sim­ply gen­er­ate great ideas. You can book tours, with real-time avail­abil­ity, daily deals, last-minute dis­counts, and 24/7 cus­tomer ser­vice and sup­port.

Prices can be dis­played in five cur­ren­cies ( in­clud­ing the Aus­tralian dol­lar) and when a book­ing is made you re­ceive an e-voucher, which you sim­ply show to the tour op­er­a­tor.

You can then view your book- ings at any time and make amend­ments, in­clud­ing can­cel­la­tions.

Vi­a­tor has also de­vel­oped a ver­sion for the iPad that fo­cuses less on giv­ing trav­ellers the abil­ity to book tours on the go, and more on pro­vid­ing inspiration, with at­trac­tions, user re­views and pho­tos for the world’s top 100 cities.

The one draw­back to us­ing Vi­a­tor’s iPhone app is that you need to be on­line. As with any app that re­lies on a web con­nec­tion, that means you need to be care­ful un­less you want to re­turn home to nasty roam­ing charges.

Vi­a­tor claims that isn’t an is­sue with its app be­cause the vast ma­jor­ity of ser­vices it of­fers are low-data in­ter­ac­tions. Time Out has avoided the prob­lem al­to­gether by mak­ing its guides avail­able off­line, and TripWolf has done the same for much of its core con­tent.

To avoid get­ting badly stung by roam­ing fees, switched-on trav­ellers should al­ways con­sider min­imis­ing the num­ber of times a mo­bile de­vice is used over­seas to ac­cess maps and, when­ever pos­si­ble, you should dis­able the phone’s GPS ( lo­ca­tion ser­vices), both of which can suck up data.

Be­fore leav­ing home, you should also switch off any ‘‘fetch’’ or ‘‘push’’ set­tings for your email, calendar or con­tacts.

It’s also a good idea to keep your phone in flight mode un­til you need data roam­ing. And down­load an app such as Free Wi-Fi Finder, which will help you lo­cate free Wi-Fi spots across the world. David Car­roll’s col­umn on new travel tech­nol­ogy ap­pears monthly in Travel & In­dul­gence.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.