#FollowFriday: The Best of Travel in Social Media (Part 4)

Travel Products & Services, Websites and Blogs — By on January 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm

This Friday we’re doing things a little bit differently and taking a brief hiatus from travel blogs to check out a different form of social media: travel apps! You may have read our LG post from a while ago about Google apps for travelers on the road, but today I’m tackling the world of the iPhone, which until recently was foreign to me.

Finally trading in my frustrating brick of a phone for an iPhone 4, I’ve been inspired to utilize the “apps” to the fullest. Right now I’m sitting in a beautiful (albeit chilly) cabin in the middle of nowhere Tennessee, and I’m not convinced my boyfriend and I would have made it past crazy West Virginia if not for our fancy phones. (Ok, perhaps we would have, but we would have been cursing our luck the whole way).

For your own travel sanity, check out these five great iPhone apps we used along the way!

accuweather iphone appAccuWeather: I think that even if we hadn’t been driving through a surprise blizzard in West Virginia and Kentucky, I’d still find this app to be one of the best and most helpful weather tools while traveling. With GPS tracking you can see real time weather wherever you are, and even compare it with warmer weather in Florida if you want to make yourself sick with envy. You can view hourly weather, weekly forecasts, stream weather report videos, and more; but perhaps the most interesting feature is the virtual map of moving weather patterns.

iExit Iphone AppiExit: I downloaded this app mid-road trip and it was so helpful, despite its downfalls. iExit shows “points of interest” near major freeway exits. What’s great is that the page loads all the exits in a row and how far you are away from them, so if you’re looking for food, for instance, you can browse what’s coming up. If there are highway routes coming off of your current highway, you can even click these to see what’s coming up after you change routes. You can view everything from Unleaded, diesel and biofuel gas, fast food, sit down food, coffee, ice cream, chain hotels, camping, shopping and more. My only gripe is that it isn’t entirely comprehensive. When we were sick of Subway and fast food, I found myself turning to another app to see what food was off of an exit—only chains are listed.

aroundme iphone appAroundMe: This app (and #4, Yelp) were ultimately a bit more helpful in certain ways than the iExit application. This is probably easier to use when you’re not on a large highway (which is where iExit came in handy). It is, however, much more comprehensive. Categories include everything from banks/atm, to bars, hospitals, hotels, parking, taxis, and more. The restaurant category came in handy when we were looking for a diner or something different than a chain. The hotel category is also pretty great: you can search by availability for whatever date, however many nights, and however many guests. Then the prices come right up, and you can read reviews, find a route to wherever you choose to go, add it to your favorites, and call it a night!

Yelp iphone appYelp: I can’t decide if I like AroundMe or Yelp better. One super-fusion of the two apps would be great (eh? Eh? Can anyone make this?) Yelp is usually my go-to website on the computer for looking at reviews of restaurants and stores up in Boston because you can search by “genre”, location, and an extremely comprehensive amount of categories. The app has all this, including a “deals” section for whatever is around you, but my favorite aspect of it is the feature called “Monocle”. When you click this, the camera turns on to show all your surroundings and when you physically move the phone around, places pop up based on what direction they’re in! You have to see it to believe it.

Walmart Overnight Parking: While we didn’t actually use this app, we liked the notion of it. Apparently Walmart was founded by an RVer, so they have a general policy that RVers can spend one night free in a store parking lot. Personal opinions of Walmart aside, it can be one of those great find anything you need places, and the app shows that too: it plots every Walmart store in the US and Canada, and filters the map to show which have fuel, pharmacy, restaurants, garden centers, and so on. I’ve never RVed but I imagine it could be a great app if you ever find yourself in a tight spot!

And those are just the tip of the giant App’ iceberg. Even if you’re not an iPhone user, I think it’s always interesting to see how incredibly innovative some of the social media tools for travel can be. Get downloading!

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