By Carissa Bluestone
After passport renewal and seat selection, the most pressing pre-travel concern is how best to taunt our friends with real-time vacation updates. Journaling, scrapbooking, digital instigation—whatever you call it, these apps will help you share your pics, anecdotes, and geotagged minutia.
Ratings are out of 5, with 5 being the highest.
1. Trip Journal
Trip Journal has been around for a while. It was Google’s #1 travel application back in 2009. A great choice for the OCD among us, Trip Journal has comprehensive real-time route tracking with stats as detailed as minimum/maximum altitude gain. You can commemorate “waypoints” with notes, photos, and videos, and export the whole trip to a number of sites, including Facebook, Picasa and Google Earth. The Lewis and Clark motif—complete with parchment-paper design—is a bit hokey and rife with anachronisms but it doesn’t impede usability. Platforms: iPhone, Android, Bada, Symbian
Bottom line: It’s the complete package; the four-scroll user guide is a little daunting, but this is the only app flexible enough for grandparents and grand explorers.
Newcomer HipGeo is similar in premise, with a focus on real-time route tracking and all its attendant dropping of pins and posting of pics. It feels easier to delve into than Trip Journal. For better or worse the interface is Facebook-meets-Google+, with a hodgepodge of photos, one-liners and comments boxes—and the stink of too much information (route tracking gets a little old when so-and-so was standing in front of the monkey cage “for a while”). Share via e-mail, SMS, Twitter, or Facebook; among a network of HipGeo “friends”; or on the fully supported website. Platforms: iPhone (Blackberry, Android and Windows in beta)
Bottom line: Promising, but boring. Needs to come into its own and shed some of the Facebook-y features. (Two words: e-mail alerts. A third word: No.)
Looking to highlight your high-res photos? TripColor can create an instablog faster than you can say “Tumblr”. The app is egalitarian but attractive (with only a few unfortunate font choices) and uses a day-by-day calendar approach to deliver photos and a prudent 250 characters of text. Add geotags and timestamps when it makes sense: You can drop pins manually when offline and backdate entries if necessary. TripColor enables Facebook sharing, but the website so beautifully presents the information you might consider sending out one URL instead of dozens of updates. Platforms: iPhone
Bottom Line: Easy, breezy, beautiful. More text would be nice, but this is a very satisfying app and the cleanest “instant slideshow” of the bunch.
If you scoff at route-tracking simpletons, well, there’s an app for you, too: Moleskine makes an iPhone/iPad version of its beloved notebooks. The interface is blessedly clean—even the icon is classy—but you can enter text, photos and sketches (there’s a drawing tool) on each page. You can geotag entries to “map your thoughts,” but this feature is easily ignored. And although Moleskine musings are typically best left in the notebook, sharing options include e-mail, Facebook and Twitter. Platforms: iPhone, iPad
Bottom line: Limited functionality (photogs will be frustrated) but a welcome visual and mental break from busier apps.