Contributor: Dave May 28, 2012
Just a couple weeks ago I went on vacation to the Smoky Mountains with my wife, Mary, to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary. Between the ten hour drive and staying in a place we were unfamiliar with, we had to use a ton of apps to get us through the 5 day vacation. Below are 7 apps we used that should come in handy on your next vacation.
The drive from Tampa, Florida, to Townsend, Tennessee, was just over 10 hours, including a couple stops. It can get pretty boring while driving on the interstate for half the day, not to mention having to find a new radio station every hour or so. An easy fix to solve this dilemma was using Pandora instead of the Radio. My wife and I simply typed in a few of our favorite artists and bands and we were set for the next few hours. If we got tired of what we were listening to, we just added another station with new artists and new bands. Pandora can definitely break up a boring drive and introduce you to new music along the way.
Google Maps with Navigation
My wife and I haven’t been to Tennessee since we were both little kids. We had no idea where anything was located around our cabin. We planned to visit Cade’s Cove, Tuckaleechee Caverns, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Dolly Wood, and a few shops and wineries. Since we both have Droid smart phones, we were able to just use Google Maps with Navigation to find our way around the area. It’s great to no longer have to deal with a physical GPS and having the option to pull out our cell phone whenever we may get lost.
While driving along the interstate, we were able to utilize Yelp’s “monocle” feature to find a few places to stop and eat. I really enjoy this feature because it gives you the ability to use the camera lens to point your phone in any direction and all the restaurants in your view with appear on the phone’s screen. We were able to see what restaurants were just off an exit, view their information such as hours, cuisines, reviews and if they offered any deals. This helped us find the perfect places to stop for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
In Tennessee, was the first time that I had ever used Instagram. It really comes in handy versus just using the camera on my phone. I could take a picture and add effects right then and there, instead of fixing things up on my computer later. It was also much easier to share to Facebook and Twitter, which I could do right away. All and all, a good first time experience with the newly Facebook acquired app.
My wife and I were able to use Groupon for a zip line nearby, along with a couple local restaurants we would have not otherwise found. We saved about 50% on the zip line and the same for the restaurants. More importantly, the food was amazing – the best barbecue I have ever had.
Whether we were in Townsend, Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, Urbanspoon’s “shake” feature was used to help us find a place to eat. Just select the city, type of cuisine and the price range (or a variation of the three) and get introduced to a restaurant nearby. See the number of people who liked it or did not like it, read reviews and visit the restaurants website. It provides everything you need to find the perfect place to dine.
The most utilized app on our vacation was TripAdvisor. We decided to stop in the Guinness World Records Museum and we soon found out the museum was not worth the $10 to get in and to put it simply, it wasn’t worth just $1. If we had only used TripAdvisor ahead of time, we would have seen it had a rating of 1.5/5. After those 15 minutes of disappointed, we looked up everything we previously had planned to go to, to see what kind of ratings it had; we didn’t want to make the same mistake again. The ratings and reviews offered an inside look to what others had thought of area shops, restaurants and attractions. TripAdvisor really saved the vacation and allowed us to enjoy everything we did instead of wasting our time and money.
What apps do you like to use on vacation?