Smartphone apps?

I was wondering if anyone has any favorite smartphone apps that might have helped them plan, or enjoy their trip more. I'm especially interested in navigation apps that helped you get around on foot.

Posted by John
Wilmington, DE, USA
4 posts

No one used a snartphone or dedicated hand held gps to navigate the major cities? I was hoping to avoid lugging lots of paper maps; when we go (Oct 2013) we will probably do as much exploring as possible on foot. Thanks John

Posted by Ed
7976 posts

Cost of international data: gazillions Cost of paper map from TI: zero

Posted by John
Wilmington, DE, USA
4 posts

Right now it's looking like Rome, Siena, Florence and Venice, total of about 12-14 days; still working the itinerary. Good point on the data costs, but I plan on using off line apps like OffMaps or similar. Just like finding a hotel where others have stayed and enjoyed, wanted to hear of +/- experiences before purchasing. Thanks for weighing in!

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

John, I tend to agree with Ed, as I typically just use the free maps provided by the hotel most of the time. I only resort to other means if I'm hopelessly lost. I travelled with a Smartphone (with a data plan) for the first time this year, and found that my Garmin NĂ¼vi GPS was far more useful. I always do a "familiarization walkabout" right after arriving in a new city, and after that I'm usually able to get around fairly well without referring to a map. I have an off-line maps App, but didn't have occasion to use it on my trip this year. The one I'm using is the Best Travel Maps. I've found them to be very responsive to requests. If you need a Map that's not on their website, send them a note and it should be available for download within a few hours. Cheers!

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2506 posts

John, haven't used maps apps but the TI free paper ones should be fine for Venice, Siena and Florence - you may want to invest in a street map for Rome (the laminated foldup ones available at the Travel Store on this site are good. If you use a paper map that's free, just toss it before you move to the next city - no packing bulk, just a sheet of paper for the day(s). From your third post, it seems that you are also interested in hotels? I have a couple of recommendations: Siena: Hotel Minerva (has parking if you are renting a car), just outside the city gate and some rooms have views of the city; a bus stop is very nearby. Florence: Hotel Medici has an elevator and a top-floor terrace (don't book a room on this floor, it can be noisy well into the night) with views of the Duomo complex and practically the whole city. Venice: still looking for a good place at a good price, I've stayed at monasteries which are very simple accommodations with a curfew (usually midnight). Rome: I prefer the Piazza Navona/Pantheon/Campo dei Fiori area, Hotel Genio is a few meters away from the north entrance to Piazza Navona and also has a top-floor terrace with 360-degree views of Rome.

Posted by Stephen
Fort Mill, SC, USA
159 posts

John...I have used the RS Audio Europe app for walking tours and other information for a summer trip to Madrid, Barcelona and Paris. I also used the Trip Advisor app to help plan for those trips. Both are free and simple to use. The Trip Advisor app has walking tours with built in maps as well. You can download specific cities and they both update automatically. I will be using them again next month for a trip to Italy - Venice, Florence and Rome. I am also using a Kindle app on my iPad to use the RS books on these three cities.

Posted by Joyce
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
15 posts

Tango is a free phone call to the states. You can video call too. The trick is you need to have wifi.

Posted by Jess
St. Paul, MN
9 posts

We were just in Rome, Sorrento & Naples and used the freebie paper maps and Rick Steve's book maps and never got lost. If we were trying to get to a certain restaurant for dinner, we used our iPhone map to look it up at the hotel with the free wifi, then later the map would still be loaded in the phone even if we did't have wifi.

Posted by Sheron
Alta Loma, CA, USA
1199 posts

I love the Tripit app for organzing all of my trip data in one place. The free version works great for my needs & is very comprehensive. I input all my own data instead of sending e-mails to Tripit to have them populate my itinerary. If you open the app where you have wifi access, the data will store in the app so that you can access it even without internet access. You can also print out your itinerary to give to family/friends & I always take a printed coy with me. You can choose how much or little detail to include in the printed version too.

Posted by John
Wilmington, DE, USA
4 posts

Thanks all for your great suggestions!

Posted by Kate
7 posts

If you are travelling to Venice you should have the free app high!tide which gives up to date information on tides in the city. Very useful in acqua alta season.

Posted by Janet
Cary, NC, USA
2 posts

Having just returned from a RS tour in October, Jess's approach is how we navigated as well. Rome was the most confusing and the freebie hotel map seemed to serve us best in that case. October is such a great time to go, enjoy your trip!