Get an iPad, just by walking Boston’s Freedom Trail and taking pictures.
This isn’t some spam come-on. Just fire up the iPhone app SCVNGR, which includes hundreds of treks across the U.S. The app’s location-based challenges can earn users on-the-spot rewards like free coffee, or points toward bigger prizes (like that iPad).
SCVNGR is just one of some 14,400 travel apps available to iPhone users that make it fun to wander around not-so-aimlessly. Using GPS technology, tour-based apps sense where you are and tell you what’s around, so you’re not restricted to predefined routes, like those found in guidebooks. Other apps are useful in museums, where you won’t have to fight guests to read wall descriptions or pay for audio guides.
Of course, apps update more often than books and are less cumbersome. They’re also often more affordable than books—or, in many cases, free. And there’s the added bonus of not having your nose buried in a guidebook, which helps you avoid looking like a tourist.
Everytrail, one of the iPhone’s noteworthy travel apps, covers 400,000 outdoor trails around the world. Produced by professional writers and photographers, it also features user-created trips, which can be equally as reliable. “The community monitors and ranks the trips,” says Everytrail VP Katherine Bose. “People do their best when their name’s on it.” You can create your own trip as well and, with a touch of a button on your iPhone, share it on Facebook. It’s like an easy-to-distribute, interactive scrapbook.
You can also find iPhone tour apps that have oldfangled roots, like Sunday Drive, which sprang from a local newspaper column recommending leisurely scenic road trip routes in southern California. “I’ve always been a driving enthusiast,” says column writer and app creator Jason D. Scott, who turned his passion into not only a job but also a source of inexpensive family outings. “Now I love to take my three- and four-year-old kids on weekend drives.”
Combining technological innovation, GPS, and creativity with great, often expert, content, iPhone tour apps make exploring the unknown easier and more fun than ever.