Apps for travel

Apps suggest adventures so you travel like a local, wherever you go.

We are peripatetic in our travel – a few days here, a stop off there. Life is busy and we tend to squeeze in adventures. The challenge is to zero in on a few interesting things to do in a new place and make the most of our time. Here are some apps which help curate well known experiences at your destination – and give creative ideas for more adventurous travelers.

10 Travel Apps

Field Tripper suggests things for you to do and see – at your location – wherever you are. When you put the Field Trip app on your phone, you can select your interests from Architecture, Art and Food – to my favorite, Cool & Unique. I have given preference to cool and unique suggestions. They include gardens and threatened historic buildings. I am ignoring the suggestions about caves and roller coasters. There is a link to City Guides for Art Nerds. This includes information on current shows. You will have fun browsing the site, and even more fun taking an hour to follow one of its leads.

10 favorite travel apps

Airbnb is evolving beyond pairing travelers with hosts for short term accommodation by adding links to unusual local adventures. The company is tapping the entrepreneurial creativity of its hosts and others to offer interesting experiences in destinations around the world. Here is list of the most ‘wished listed’ experiences in the two months which Airbnb trips have been available. They include Zen Explorers with mindful mavens in the redwoods, a night in Havana and Sushi Science in Tokyo.

I have found a three-hour hike with a guide in San Francisco, two days of immersion in Korean cooking and food in Seoul and a whole section on social impact experiences. For instance, I can spend a day ‘inside’ an urban neighborhood garden in L. A. or get a firsthand view of successful micro finance investments in San Francisco. They offer artistic experiences like three days of immersion in street art in L. A. Ready to adventure? Try Disco Queen or Surfing and camping three day immersion with Quinn.

My surfing enthusiast son-in-law raves about an Airbnb immersive experience catching the early morning waves in Santa Monica while on a business trip there.  He even ran into Owen Wilson at the post-workout food truck stop (celebrity sighting not included)

Like their homes and rooms on Airbnb, every experience has been rated and reviewed by visitors, so you know what to expect.

10 great travel apps

For those of you who love the outdoors and do not want a guide, The Outbound Collective site is a repository of outdoors adventures, suggested by locals, wherever you are. I love the prompts in their Search Box – Search by Destination Spot, Activity or User.

Travel Apps

Detour is an app which offers audio tours for self-guided walks. You get directions for your walk on your iPhone screen and as you stroll, local voices reminisce and give context to your surroundings. They currently offer tours for San Francisco, New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Austin, London, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona and Marrakech. The app knows where you are (iPhone GPS) so it almost like having a live guide. It is a new way to experience places. Detour was started by Andrew Mason, who founded Groupon. It is likely to grow and succeed.

Atlas Obscura – A collective discovery project

Atlas Obscura searches near your destination for unusual events, experiences and stories based on your interests. See the ASE article.

Events Near Here

Sometimes the interest is much better than a guidebook. Events Near Here tells you what is going on around you – today and at the time of your trip.

Like a local

This free app gives lists of top things to do and see in many world cities.

Offline city guides with tips from locals

You can download the app for your destination city, for a fee, typically $3.99. The suggestions are made from a ‘curated’ selection of locals at your destination. The guide stays on your phone offline while you wander. This is especially important overseas where you can download over wi-fi at your hotel and avoid ‘roaming’ all day.

Most popular things to do…

There are a number of well-known sources for advice on local experiences, and they tend to curate for the ‘top ten’, ‘most highly rated’ options. They are the go-to places if you are new to an area and want to check off the most well-known activities. There is a reason that people go to the top of the Statue of Liberty and walk across the Golden Gate Bridge.   Here are some resources to remind you to visit the well-known favorites.

Trip Advisor

The Trip Adviser home page features a search box which includes a prompt for ‘Things to do’ and ‘Near: (put in your destination name or zip code). You will be given a list of ‘The Top Things to Do’ at your destination.


Go to yelp to search for businesses near your destination. This is especially helpful for restaurants and nightlife.

Lonely Planet

The free, online Lonely Planet guide offers suggested ‘Experiences’ at all the destinations. I have included a link to their San Francisco suggestions.


Expedia offers advice for ‘Things to do’ at your chosen destination.


Don’t forget Google. If you type in the zip code of your destination and one of these words: ‘experience’ or ‘field trip’, ‘adventure’ – you will get a list of links to local suggestions. Add the words unique or unusual and you may get creative advice.

Hint: I check out the websites of top hotels at my destination before I travel. They almost always have a list of interesting things to do and see. Local concierges know what travelers find interesting and they can have creative ideas.

Send this article to your friends who are planning their next trip – they’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness.