Tag Archives: travel guides

The AFAR Mobile Travel App – Take 1

By Lakshmi:

AFAR is just everything a travel company/magazine should aspire to be.  Their content breathes and lives every travel adage you’ve ever heard.

“Get off the beaten track.” 

“Live the moment.”

“Experience life like a local.”

So, when AFAR announced an app, I couldn’t rush any quicker to download it.  Here are some initial reactions from a sample of 1.

The Awesomeness! 

Just like its print publication, the AFAR app opens with beautiful, inviting pictures that beckon you to explore a variety of locations through their local expert curated guides.  For the first option that I clicked, “Big Day Out In Singapore”, it gave me 9 options.  Each of the choices was brief, telling me what to do quickly, so I’ll have more time to enjoy the experience rather than spend time reading.  I’m not sure how the guides are picked, but there is an assortment of locales that you can explore for totally enticing eye candy!

Moving to the Highlights section brings you to another pictorially engaging area populated with interesting architecture (Zaha Hadid), delicious dining (Kupu Maui) and more.  All displayed in the brief prose, stunning photos style that permeates the entire site.

A Nearby feature uses location technology to pinpoint interesting locales that you might want to explore close to you.  A Warning!  Don’t sit in a suburban area and wait to get excited…it yields nothing making you almost doubt your choice of living venue.  But when you are in a more “happening” or popular area, it comes up with choices.

On the Awesomeness factor, the app rocks for being both practical and a handy way to daydream your way out of long queues, waits and more.

The Eensy Weensy Frustrations:

On the opening screen, the app asks you to Sign In using an account, Facebook or Twitter.  The option to skip this step to explore the content is displayed not too prominently on the top right hand corner of the screen.

Using the search feature to do research for a recently concluded trip to Angkor Wat, produced options in Europe, Africa, Asia and more!  It looks like the app uses a key word search rather than relevancy and the search for Angkor produces a result to visit Baron’s place in Cairo.  So, if you are not sure of where exactly a destination is on the map, you’ll go through some frustration navigating this way.

When I tried to join AFAR, the screen was pretty faded with text not standing out.  Now that I have joined, I have the ability to create my own highlights and travel guides, something I will do before our next trip and report back in a Take 2.  That’s where this app could really rock.  Imagine taking trips with AFAR recommendations to guide you along…..kind of like an AFAR trip without the big price tag:)

If you have used the AFAR app, we’d love to hear what your experience has been.  Do drop us a line.

Falling In Love with Paper Travel Guides In The Digital Age

By Lakshmi:

For the last several years, most of our trips have been facilitated by electronic media.  From downloading apps on local transit systems to those that point you to what’s around, from eguides to cities to programs that track your visits, going paperless has been quite a liberating experience.

However, despite our newly discovered efficiency, there is something magical about picking up a print travel magazine (the most recent case in point being an issue of Wanderlust at Heathrow airport) that sends our hormones into a state of bliss.  Given this induced state, it should come as no surprise that my heart skipped a beat or two when I discovered alacarte maps.

Pitched as a package that combines a travel guide with a city map that can serve as a piece of art, these extremely attractive, easy to carry guides may be the perfect companion to discovering an entire city or a quaint neighborhood.

Founded by two Swiss flashpackers (backpackers who like to journey in style), these enticing maps provide tons of tips from locals on where to go and what to do in addition to of course providing you with what you would expect from good old fashioned maps.  In fact, mix one part eye candy, one part personal tour guide and one part reliable data and you come up with a map ideally suited for today’s digital age limited attention span!

I happened to see the one on my former home town of Washington DC and can’t wait to buy a few for cities I am already quite familiar with…London, New York, Vienna.

Take a moment to peruse their collection at http://www.alacartemaps.com/ and if that’s not enough to get you excited, take a look at one of their creative videos at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvBqCCRd4PI

And if you’ve used their maps, please do send us your feedback.

Just Discovered The Coolest Travel Site

DUMBO
A Visual Map of Dumbo
Source: Theydrawandtravel.com

By Lakshmi: 

Who?  Who knew that some late afternoon browsing and twittering would lead to the discovery of a website that brings together artists who visually illustrate all their favorite places to live, visit and eat.

What?  http://www.theydrawandtravel.com/ is a website that was created by Nate Padavick and Salli Swindell, a brother and sister design and illustration team who have been working together for over 10 years.

How?  If you are visiting a city and want a quick visual map of all the major attractions to cover or simply want to explore the highlights of one or more cities, this site presents the information as total eye candy.

Why? I have been a big fan of visual data depiction and am in love with several of the infographic maps that have been featured in Fast Company, Time and other magazines lately.  And discovering a site that has elevated these maps to an art form made for a very joyous Saturday afternoon.

Since we had recently discovered the DUMBO area of New York City, we started our site exploration with a search for an illustrated map of DUMBO.  We were excited to not only be met with a beautiful visual illustration, but were happy to find that all of the things that delighted us were on this map.  We went on to search for Istanbul and found not one but several illustrations, each by a different artist.  From a map of where to find the best vegetarian dishes in Berlin to what to eat in Tuscany, from understanding typical Austrian foods to finding flea markets in Bangkok, the site has an eclectic collection of maps.

Please do visit this site and let us know your reactions.  We hope as fellow travel enthusiasts you are just as excited as us about this discovery.