Travel apps to smarten your trip

A lot of time can be spent dreaming about the perfect holiday. In addition to reading a number of magazines and websites on the topic to help with planning, there are an ever-increasing number of ‘apps’ available

When I’m not travelling, it’s fair to say I’m thinking about travelling. Who doesn’t? There are so many places to discover and explore and I’m not even talking about those locations away from my homeland yet.

To assist in the research and planning for my holidays, I’ve found myself spending more time online and specifically looking at Travel Apps. It’s exciting knowing there are so many to choose from and even better is that there are as many freebies as there are those you have to pay for (the iTunes Store for example has more than 200 free travel apps, while Windows Store has 1,000 apps and growing when ‘travel’ is searched).

Australian travel apps have been released hard and fast in recent years, highlighting just how much our beautiful country has to offer, both to locals and those travelling from international locations. It is perhaps the quickest method of ‘engaging with the target market’.

One app that caught my attention recently was the Natural Australia free app for iPhone and iPad. Australian Traveller Media — publishers of Australian Traveller magazine — has put together 16 Ultimate Escapes; places considered culturally, naturally or spiritually significant. There are a number of World Heritage Listed sites, including Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia (one of my faves), Uluru in the great Red Centre of the Northern Territory, and the largest tropical ecosystem in the world — the Great Barrier Reef along the east coast.

The imagery is beautiful. I found myself getting swept away in searching region-by-region and the luxury travel options (all contributed by those who are regarded as knowing what they are on about) quickly found their way onto my Bucket List. That list is getting pretty long…

There’s Nothing Like Australia, the official app of Tourism Australia, is a beautiful app in the same vein. Available from iTunes and Android stores (c’mon Windows get your shit together), this is a decent app if you’re looking for travel ideas. A new version came out in October 2013, adding to the list of locations around the country. I expect spectacular photography coming from the nation’s peak body, and it certainly lives up to expectation here. But I am disappointed that there are not more than 17 destinations currently available; this is something that needs to be addressed. The fully narrated videos available on this app are probably one of its standout features and a good enough reason to download.

If you’re a Windows platform user, check out the Bing Travel App. Though not specific to Australia (with more than 2,000 destinations from all over the world available) this app covers all of the major city centres as well as those locations a little bit out of the way. In addition to its comprehensive travel guides there are also booking tools, weather guides, traveller photos and a list of top attractions to help turn your travel inspiration into a great trip.

Finally, the app I rate as the best — another freebie (available for iPhone, iPad and Android, while Windows can make use of the mobile website) — is Appy Travels. Launched in around 2012 to the travel app market, Appy Travels started out as a series of apps covering Australia’s capital cities and now includes many of the smaller, off the beaten track, locations that are often ignored by the travel app market (think the Kimberley region, Coober Pedy and the Yarra Valley, just to name three). One thing I like about the Appy Travels guidebooks is that they are interactive. To quote the website “Appy Travels guides stay fresh, accurate and interesting through constant feedback from travellers like you”, and with such interaction with the travel community there is an element of trust and honesty in the information that is hard to ignore.

Do you have a go-to Australian travel app I should know about? Feel free to put it in the comments below and I’ll check it out.

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