I think holiday planning is awesome.
Unless you’re one of those people who believe that all the preparation you need to travel overseas ‘is a passport and a credit card’ (in which case I maturely respond with: pfft), you would know that holiday anticipation and planning is one of the best parts of the adventure.
As is evidenced by my entirely patchy blogging in much of the first part of this year, I got totally enthralled in research for our recent trip. Particularly for Paris! Unchartered waters for me, with SO many things to do and see, and most importantly… new shopportunities! We had friends sending us ‘must-dos’, were finding great articles online (like this: 27 of the most delicious cheap eats in Paris) plus reading books (like this: Le Shop Guide: The best of Paris for the fashion traveller) and seeing things on instagram like this:
There were so many things to keep track of!
I found myself wondering where I could buy a map of Paris so I could start marking things out on a map to take with me so I didn’t miss out on anything!
And then I remembered it wasn’t 1990. #TheresGottaBeABetterWay!
In my own little paw lay a device that connected me to the ENTIRE WORLD. Surely it had a solution for my ‘draw a dot on a map’ problem!? It had to have something inside that would let me mark specific spots and ideally something that would be accessible or ‘live’ while on vacay!
Google led me to Ulmon CityMaps2Go!
Or more specifically, an app called ‘CityMaps2Go’ by Ulmon which is free to download from iTunes or GooglePlay. It has in-app purchases to get rid of the ads and give you unlimited access to cities (I paid the $6.49 for these features, though my fellow travellers didn’t and didn’t really have a different experience with the app at all).
What’s so awesome about this app?
Everything!! More specifically:
- per my original request, the app allows you download the map of the city you are visiting, then mark places on the map of the city. It gives you the option to colour-code the items you’re saving to the map (I chose red for shops and yellow for food. Green was our apartment!). You’ll note in the below pic, the app gives you a handy little scale which changes as you zoom in and out (by pinching the screen, normal iPhone-zoom-styles):
- To my surprise and delight – THE APP WORKS OFFLINE! This means that you can enjoy all the delights of navigating your city of choice, without needing wifi or activating cellular data (the expensive bit overseas!). The app uses the GPS features in your phone (which don’t need internet) to identify exactly where you are on the map at all times! The benefits of this are endless. Jump in a cab and not know where you’re going? You can watch yourself track toward your location on screen (or away) and know exactly where you are at all times.
- The app is stacked with a GAZILLION cities (seriously, there’s maps for Toowoomba and Hervey Bay in here). So even the most elaborate itinerary has maps for allllll the locations you are visiting in one app. Once downloaded, your maps stay saved in the menu bar.
- The blue dot aka the you-are-here dot (not visible on these pics, #sadface #missyouparis) marks your location and is complete with a small arrow showing you which way you’re facing (just like on google maps). Never emerge from a metro/subway/tube station disorientated again! The map app got you covered!
- Speaking of metro/subway/tube – the CityMaps2Go app has transport lines marked up already! No separate map to figure out where the train is.
- As you can see in the above pic, the app also has a bunch of landmarks, restaurants, hotels and shops marked already so you can easily find something around where you are. Better yet – lots are reviewed; the app lets you upload pics and post reviews to the spots you’ve saved! Get the benefit of others comments before choosing a dinner location.
- The app keeps all of your saved spots in lists so you can sort through them easily without having to find them again on the map:
- The app also lets you add custom notes to the places you’ve saved.
- The app also has little features on cities so you can get all the good stuff in one pretty-picture-filled article. Plus, you can save spots direct from the discover articles to your map!
- Perhaps one of my favourite perks of this whole shebang is that you can stare at your touristy map endlessly without it being an A2-sized sign to everyone around you. Don’t get me wrong, your walking shoes and SLR will still give you away, but at least you can pretend.
- To mark a spot on the map, you find it manually or search the address then hold your finger on the spot you’d like to mark for about two seconds, then a little pin marker appears on your spot and a box pops up on the bottom of the screen enabling you to save and name your spot.
- You can turn (the few) notifications off in the settings.
- It’s worth downloading the cities you’re visiting in your wifi, they do take a little bit to load fully because they’re so packed full of data.
- Don’t wait ’til your trip is booked to get this app! If you’re feeling travel-lusty start saving spots and making notes in your app now! Your future travelling self with thank you for it!
This is my most sublime travel find yet! I’m rating this above the Bose Noise Cancelling headphones! And at one squillionth of the price (or free!) do yourself a favour and pop to your app store to start enjoying the trip anticipation joy now!
What travel apps have changed your life for the better? Share your favourite finds below!