Smartphone apps to replace guidebook

Dec 30th, 2015, 03:23 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 71
Smartphone apps to replace guidebook

Has anyone had a good experience using a smartphone guidebook app instead of the actual guidebook while traveling in Europe? Bringing fewer books would certainly lighten the load but I am fairly dependent on guidebooks for maps, sights, and restaurant suggestions.
I wouldn't want to come home to a huge cellphone bill though and am not totally familiar with how much data the apps use or how much the data would cost on my cellphone plan.

Thank you.
cmm6797 is offline  
Dec 30th, 2015, 03:31 PM
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It is the wave of the future. Michelin does not have a Bulgaria Green Guide in print, but it does have it on line.
Michael is offline  
Dec 30th, 2015, 03:36 PM
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I use ebooks on my iPad. The screen on my phone is too small. That said, the maps app is incredibly useful, as it knows about buses and metros (although, not, alas, ferries).
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 30th, 2015, 04:46 PM
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If you get the type of online guidebook that you buy and download ahead of time, then you don't use any mobile data to use it: you buy/download it before you leave on your trip, using your home WiFi.

My low tech/high tech approach to this is to scan selected chapters from a few guidebooks and save them to both my netbook and my Android phone. I still take one primary paper guidebook (which I also scan selectively, so I have both the real book and parts on my phone if I don't want to walk around with the book). This approach doesn't use any data either - again, it's all already downloaded to my devices before I get on the plane.

Using a phone in Europe is a whole different topic - lots of threads on this.
Andrew is online now  
Dec 30th, 2015, 07:49 PM
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There are several, most are area/region/city specific, including those by Maribel's Guides.
Robert2533 is offline  
Dec 31st, 2015, 02:34 AM
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Sorry, but I use my phone and tablet to access the internet everywhere with T-Mobile. haven't used a guidebook for years
Dukey1 is offline  
Dec 31st, 2015, 08:04 AM
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I use both. You can cut down on the bulk of your guidebook by ripping out sections you don't need. For example, if you are headed to Italy but are only going to Tuscany, you can remove the sections on Rome, Sicily, and other areas you are not visiting.
Edward2005 is offline  
Dec 31st, 2015, 08:50 AM
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For a recent trip to Europe I downloaded onto my Kindle and/or smartphone:
1. the ebook version of several guidebooks;
2. several Rick Steves walking tour podcasts;
3. Tripit to organize the information;
4. DeutscheBahn for German train schedules;
5. airline apps, Gate Guru, FlightAware;
6. TripAdvisor;
7. currency converter;
8. several specific tourist website from cities we were visiting;
9. Tom's Port Guides.
happytourist is offline  
Dec 31st, 2015, 09:50 AM
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They are not a substitute imho - I've tried and it doesn't work particularly well.

Most guide books, you are flicking through them constantly to look up particular sites en-route, or trying to read maps - neither translate that well to a phone or tablet for on-the go use. So I still use a printed guide book (favourites being Time Out and the Lonely Planet Discovery series).

You can use guide books in electric form as prep, in your hotel or apartment, but they are a pain to bavigate on the move.

Apps I do like for travel are banking ones, public transport ones, restaurant recommendation and booking sites. But not guide books.
RM67 is offline  
Dec 31st, 2015, 10:32 AM
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I agree completely with RM67. I download lots of things for my trip, and save them all in a folder on Dropbox so that I can access them anywhere, even if I should lose my phone. I also usually install transportation apps particular to my destination, and I buy some e-book guides. However, I always bring at lleast one paper guidebook on every trip. It's not easy to flip back and forth in an app or digital guide book, as I can in a book. With a book, I often notice something interesting while browsing for something else.
bvlenci is offline  
Dec 31st, 2015, 10:53 AM
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This is a classic dialogue of the deaf.

If you're a technofreak, there's no point in messing about with dead trees when you can do a far more effective job of destroying the environment by relying on plastic toys that eat electricity while telling you practically nothing. While forking out a fortune in access charges.

And you can delight in the kind of app that tells you whereabouts in Naples the nearest pizzeria is. Because who could possibly find a pizza in Naples without an app? And what else is there in Naples but pizza anyway?

But if you're interested in what's around you - and especially where it is - there's really no alternative to carrying several different paper-based sources. Plus, at some attractions, a really well-designed, web-enabled autoguide - and a good enough web connection in your hotel room to pre-research the place before setting out, and to check all your new questions once you've seen it.

One day, techies will acquire the brains, humility and listening skills to design systems that match what grownups want from guidebooks. The evidence of the past decade's pointless toys aimed at "cool" morons indicates that day is still years away.

Which side of the debate you're on depends on whether you're interested in a city - or just want to avoid a bit of extra luggage.

I can't imagine visiting a city without a tablet, a Kindle, a smartphone, a few proper guidebooks and a substantial cache of handouts and folders available only locally. And I can't see the point in saving a few minutes at a baggage carousel to spend your life in ignorance of somewhere you've spent thousands to get to.

But no doubt it takes all sorts...
flanneruk is offline  
Dec 31st, 2015, 12:49 PM
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"Forking out a fortune in access charges"

Speak for yourself. My T-Mobile month-by-month account includes unlimited data for $50/month on top of unlimited text and 20 cent/minute calls outside the US. And if I could be bothered to download the maps I wouldn't need data in the first place.

You don't need a tablet AND a Kindle. I use the Kindle app on my iPad.
thursdaysd is offline  

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