In his excursions to more than 60 countries, tech entrepreneur Konrad Waliszewski believes he’s tried just about every travel app. And for someone who prefers to travel off-the-cuff rather than pore over guidebooks, they all fell short with way too much clutter. So last week Waliszewski released his own app, TripScout, which aims to keep things simple.
TripScout employs actual guides—generally from leading local tour companies—to curate lists of around 25 top cultural and historic sites in a given city. These aren’t tours of every single part of the city, but rather what these guides think is key to understanding a place. “The more information you add, the more overwhelming it becomes,” Waliszewski explains.
For each chosen site, the guides then record short talks that vary from two to five minutes, all accessible within the app as though the guide is there with you as you wander around. And you can wander without worrying about getting back to the hotel to charge your phone or adding more data to your plan, too: Another important TripScout feature is its use of offline maps for all your points of interest in a city. “When you’re overseas, you don’t want to use data,” Waliszewski says.
Right now, in the interest of keeping things simple, TripScout doesn’t really feature hotel or restaurant recommendations since, as Waliszewski says, “there are tons of resources for that.” Sure, in cities like Buenos Aires where eating steak is part of the reason you’re even visiting, they might have a couple of classic recommendations. And in Dublin, the Temple Bar is a cultural institution in itself so it might merit inclusion. But for anything else, you’ll have to find your own recommendations. (Fortunately, TripScout allows you to add custom pins to keep track of any hotels or restaurants you found in your own research.)
TripScout guides are only available for Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia at the moment. (Waliszewski himself is the tour guide for DC, where he lives.) But there are plans to release guides to other major US cities including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, and New Orleans “pretty soon,” and, after that, Central and South America and beyond.
TripScout is available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch on the Apple iTunes store. Though the app is free, each city map costs $4.99. The upside to that cost? TripScout says it will donate 10 percent of all proceeds to charity, both locally in each city and international causes.