Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Three Travel Apps I Will Use in Chile and the One I Won't!

The upcoming trip to Chile will be my first with a device that supports apps. I did do a weekend get-a-way last year with my iPod Touch but it was hard to connect to the Internet. So in the interest of travel, cough, I purchased an iPad. Since I have had trouble connecting to the Internet I chose the WiFi model plus 3G. The brilliance of the 3G is that you can turn it on one month at a time. I do not require 3G service on a daily basis (and how can people afford it!) so a pay as you go 30 day plan is perfect for me.

My hope with the iPad is to be able to ditch the guide books and multiple maps and not have to lug them around. Instead all that information will be in my cute little iPad. I have even purchased a mobile external battery to keep the life in my precious little iPad ( I do feel I should name the iPad - any thoughts?).

Now on to the travel apps. What will I use? Well I have four on the iPad right now that I am testing out and hoping they will be quite useful on the trip.

First is Trip Advisor. I have used the Trip Advisor website for as long as I can remember - since at least 2004. So when I got on the Apple bandwagon it was one of the first apps I downloaded. The app recently updated on August 6th to version 6.4 so I have been playing around with the new features, and I have to say it is a massive improvement.

The layout is quite different and more accessible and for me it is easier to work in the app. I also really appreciate the new save feature. Just hit the save star for any hotel, restaurant or attraction and it will be pinned to a map of the area you are visiting so it can be accessed it for later use.

What I am most curious about with the Trip Advisor app is – will my save functions work if I do not have Internet or 3G service. If so that would be a tremendous advantage.

Offline maps and/or information appeal to me because I am not quite clear on how the 3G network will/if work in a foreign country. So far for the Chile trip all of our hotels are offering free WiFi.

As far as the review aspect of Trip Advisor - I don’t live and die by a review. Every person has different needs, wants and tastes. I just use it as a general guide. If there are 50 great reviews I try to not get my hopes up. If there are 50 negative reviews I tend to shy away from that place. I find it a good general rule of thumb.

THE APP I WON'T USE - Tourist Eye-offers trip planning and offline maps. I really wanted this to be THE travel app for me, but it has been nothing but a problem. The maps never downloaded. What I entered on the website never integrated into the iPad. Every time I opened the app it said downloading and never ever finished. The most recent version updated on July 16. I originally downloaded the app in February and even with the update it has never retained my original information. After the update I went in to try again inputting some of the Chile trip information. After entering all of the data it asked me to pay (pay! I tell you!) to access the offline map - $1.99 per trip or $20.00 annually. No thanks!!!!!!
So far all of our dealings with hotels in Chile have been only is Spanish. Google Translate has become a very important tool in the hotel booking process. Knowing that the language will be our biggest barrier I have downloaded two apps for translating –Google Translate and Word Lens. Anything that helps me communicate in a foreign country is priceless!

Google translate has been working very well. I just cut and paste into the app and voila - Instant Spanish. Where was this when I was taking Spanish in High School?

Although it doesn't seem to not like large chunks of information all at once - it has worked well. I even used it to translate emails received from our hotels in Chile from Spanish to English.

Here is an example of Google Translate trying to decipher and email from a hotel in Chile:

I really was curious about Word Lens. By using the camera on your iPad/iPhone just point and what needs to be translated. You can pause the picture to see what the translation says. Sounds perfect! Although I haven’t really had good luck with the picture. I get the gist of what it is trying to say, but he Google Translate is much better – the only downside is that you have to type and/or cut and paste the info. Word lens would be much more efficient if the point and shoot concept worked better.

Here is an example of Word Lens trying to translate the same hotel email from Chile as above:

What about you? What are your favorite apps? Travel websites?

1 comment:

  1. Having never had a "smart-device" I've never tried any apps, let alone travel ones! And the only travel websites I've ever used were to book flights or other modes of transportation. But that's probably because I haven't done a trip to a completely unknown location where I didn't know anybody there in what seems like forever! Lately most of my trips have involved visiting friends and family and repeat visits.
    My next trip to an "unknown" I'll probably start checking out online help. Hopefully by then I'll have an iPad or iPhone of my own! (I do ALWAYS travel with my laptop though... have to do something with all the photos!) ;o)