Several times a year I go on holiday, I like to totally disconnect from the world. No Internet, no work, no contact with home. Just me, the wife and our cameras.
The internet is a huge resource for the traveller, before we go away we print off no end of maps, tourist guides and endless things we should visit whilst away.
Recently various networks have announced that you can give them some more money to allow you to use the internet whilst you’re away. Frankly it’s just to expensive still and I feel that if I was connected I probably would never truly switch off.
There are a few things that I miss though on my phone that would be really useful whilst away. Maps, tourist guides and translation. Yes there are loads of other things but I’m just really talking about your typical city break somewhere.
Search the Google Play Store, Apple Appstore or the Windows Marketplace for the town you’re visiting and it’s highly likely that you’ll find an app that will be of use whilst you’re away.
As usual the Windows Phone offering is lacking but if you’re an Android or iOS user then you’ll probably see Triposo.
Triposo offers city guides for about 8000 destinations around the world. You get maps, town info, points of info, day trip info, plus a whole lot of other stuff. The maps section also uses your phones GPS to locate you on the map. The best thing about Triposo is it’s perfectly usable offline. Only extended info about minor details needs a Web connection.
Recently Triposo have made a general app that you install at home and then pick your destination city and it downloads the info. Their are still standalone apps for various cities as well though.
There are a few other similar apps but most seem to require you to sign up or need a web connection. The best thing to do is to download something, then put your phone in flight mode to test out how much the app can do without a web connection.
Google Maps for Android has for a while allowed you to download a specific area of the map. It used to be hidden away in the beta labs area. A recent update included this in the menu (make available offline). Basically you connect to wifi whilst at home and select the area of the map you want and hit done. Then when you are on holiday you load up Google Maps make sure GPS is on and wait a minute. It should then plot you on the map and you can use it to work out exactly where you have got and how to find your hotel.
Lastly a lot of major cities have an underground train system. Getting hold of a map is sometimes a little problematic, some countries are more organised than others. Sometimes a PDF is available sometimes not. A quick search for your destination town name quite often turns up a map app. Normally it’s just a PDF version that’s zoomable and turned into an app. But it will suffice.
Using these offline apps certainly helps me on my holidays. I think that when the networks lower their roaming prices, holidays will change for the worst. Gone will be the days of total disconnection and along come the days of having to see the pictures on Facebook that colleagues upload whilst sat around the pool in their ill fitting swimming costumes.