Travel Apps That Saved Me

Before I get into detailed posts about my trip to China and Japan, I must rave about the travel apps that revolutionized my traveling.

I turned off cellular data on my iPad and iPhone so as not to incur a bagillion dollar bill, but downloaded offline maps for Beijing, Shanghai and Kyoto. At the time, I had no idea how useful these maps would be. Unlike paper maps, these apps use GPS to mark my location and direction even when I’m offline. So, for example, if I get out of the subway and have no idea which direction to go in, I simply check the app. As I wandered around the western parks of Kyoto with no English signs, I pulled out my iPad and made my way to my next destination. Gone are the days of walking 15 minutes north only to realize that I meant to walk south!

Some people say getting lost is part of the fun of traveling, but not me. I hate getting lost. I like the puzzle of figuring out a new city and knowing exactly where I’m going. But wandering around with absolutely no sense of where I am frustrates me, and to be honest, scares the shit out of me.

Since Beijing and Shanghai are large cities, I had plenty of free apps to choose from, and ended up using Ulmon maps. There may be better versions out there, but these worked for me.

Shanghai Map2

The app allows me to save personal locations with colored stars. Also, the free version clearly comes with ads.

Kyoto was a bit harder. Many of the options were in Japanese which was, for obvious reasons, completely useless. After an extensive google search, I stumbled upon MapsWithMe, and downloaded their Japan app. So far (I am still in Kyoto), this map is working amazingly and could not recommend it enough.

Kyoto map

Notice the little blue arrow that tells you my location.

 

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One thought on “Travel Apps That Saved Me

  1. Alfred says:

    As for me, I prefer Spyglass. It works great when offline, assuming that you pre-download maps that you need. It also have many useful features, such as marking waypoints, saving spots, measuring your speed and distance to the target, sharing locations with friends and much more.

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