10 Essential iPad Apps for Travel Bloggers

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One of us, one of us…

I recently caved in to social convention and allowed myself to succumb to the irresistible force that exists behind Apple and its iEverything revolution.

While I’d had an iPod since 2008 and an iPhone since early 2010, I’d thus far resisted the siren song of the tablet. The outlay of $700+ to get a device that, while shiny, doesn’t really serve a purpose. I mean, it doesn’t take calls like my phone and I have a laptop for my blogging and the like.

But there’s something irresistibly and frustratingly trendy about a tablet, and when Telstra announced you could get them on a $60 a month plan which included data – I jumped at the chance.

With iPad in hand and with time to burn, I immediately Googled iPad apps for travel bloggers and was shocked to find there wasn’t a comprehensive list out there. There were lists for bloggers and lists for travelers, but nothing for travel bloggers. For instance, a freelance blogger in Canada would benefit from a copy of TurboTax Canada when the tax season rolls around. However, you probably wouldn’t find that one on a list of iPad apps for travel bloggers. I had to remedy that!

The list below is far from exhaustive, but they’re apps I’ve found through my exploring that I think nicely compliment the travel blogging lifestyle. Have I missed any?

Flipboard – Free

If there is a better way to leaf through your favorite blogs, I’ve yet to find it. Flipboard seemlessly turns the pages of blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and various other sources into something resembling a newspaper. I was quick to add my Google Reader to the app, and damned if it hasn’t made putting together my semi-regular Recommended Reads a whole hell of a lot easier.

The travel section event boasts specific options for prominent blogs such as Nomadic Matt or Wild Junket. I’m going to make it one of my 2012 resolutions to join that illustrious duo.

Another option, if you’re after a way to read your favourite periodicals from home, is the very groovy PressReader – which lets you download the latest digital editions of your favourite newspapers from at home and abroad.

A handsome man and two pretty girls
When I become a featured poster on Flipboard, I will be a pimp like this man

WordPress – Free

While all of us aren’t using the WordPress platform for our blogs, it seems that the vast majority of travel bloggers are employing WordPress in either its hosted or unhosted forms.

While I’ve got my desktop at home and my laptop for when I’m in a hostel, I’ve found that having the iPad while riding the bus or killing time in the work break-room. It’s a much less unwieldy option than finding a power outlet and a desk to make use of my far too large Toshiba laptop. Enter the WordPress app.

While it isn’t perfect (I have difficulty managing pictures through it, for example) it’s a good option if you want to tap out a raft draft and don’t like the in-build Note Pad’s lack of flexibility. A definite in a list of

Twitter – Free

It goes without saying that social networking is vital in building a blog’s following and its web presence. Twitter is one of my favorite ways to interact with other bloggers as well as my readers, and the iPad app offers a pretty sexy layout that makes it easier than ever to navigate between your general feed and your mentions and interactions.

Others might prefer alternatives such as  Tweetdeck, but the official Twitter app does the trick for me.

Dropbox – Free

One of the banes of my blogging existence has been working on an entry at work (as I do with most of my entries) and realizing that the pictures I needed are still on my home PC.

Enter Dropbox.

By setting it up across my iDevices and my PCs at home, I’m able to get to the vital files on my iPad and then upload them to my blog for use on my work terminal. I can also access notes I made on other devices without having to fish them out of my bag and power them up. That’s what I call winning.

A man rides another man in a ball-pit while holding a rifle
Don’t be caught without Dropbox or my friend will mount you in a ball-pit and fire rounds into the air

Yelp – Free

Whether you’re a fan of Yelp or TripAdvisor, no blogger should be without access to one (or both) of these great review sites. While I prefer the Yelp app, both are fonts of useful info when you’re looking for a bite to eat or a place to lay down your sleepy head.

Yelp itself isn’t up and running in every country or city yet – it’s very US focussed for now – but it’s a fast growing alternative to Trip Advisor, which I personally find a little cluttered and difficult to navigate.

Another decent alternate is Around Me, which links you to restaurants, bars, and sites near to you using your iPhone or iPad’s 3G GPS.

WiFi Finder – Free

While a great many hostels are fast jumping on the free WiFi bandwagon, it’s a sad fact that there are still a lot that don’t provide this basic service.

Hurrah for Free WiFi Finder. While it’s far from an exhaustive list of places offering free Wi-Fi, it gives you a good indication of whats available using your phone or iPad’s GPS. No more expensive data roaming!

Facebook – Free

Much like Twitter, Facebook is an essential app for anybody who takes their social networking seriously. Whether you run a fan page or just want to keep your friends back home up to date with your latest adventures and get access to your photos, the Facebook app is one I’ve seen on every single iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad I’ve ever laid my hands on.

While the current incarnation of the app doesn’t yet support the spiffy new Timeline feature and its fan page notifications are mediocre, it’s still a good way to keep in touch on the fly.

A backpacker boards a train in the 1980s
Best photo of a backpacker ever! Photo from Geograph

Foursquare – Free

I know a lot of people who don’t see the value in checking in wherever you go in exchange for points that don’t really mean anything, but I’m a big advocate of FourSquare.

Not only is the app developing a good collection of hints and tips at various venues around the world, but it’s also a nice easy way to check what’s nearby and get an opinion of whether it’s worth visiting. I’ve shaped my meal orders or my beer selection based on FourSquare recommendations in the past.

It’s also a platform that is gaining mainstream acceptance in the form of deals available at various chains, bars, and hotels that reward check-ins. I can get a free upgrade to a pint at Hart’s Pub the next time I’m there, for example.

It’s also a hassle free way to keep track of where you’ve been. While other apps (such as the aforementioned Evernote) are great for keeping notes, just scrolling through your check-in history is a good way to remember the name of that whole in the wall Thai place you wanted to recommend. It was a big help to me when I was putting together tales from my time in New Zealand last December.

Analytics App – $6.99

If you’re anything like me, you’re a sucker for statistics when it comes to your website. Whether you’re checking your Feedburner subscribers or freshing your site stats to see how many hits you’ve had, there’s something addictive about seeing your success and popularity quantified. Analytics HD offers a wealth of facts and metrics about your website and does it with a pretty sexy layout that is easy to look at and even easier to use.

Drunk girls in Fiji
Website stats get me drunk much like Bacardi got these girls drunk

Google Maps – Included!

While I do enjoy stumbling off the beaten track and having an adventure, sometimes I just want to get from point A to point B without breaking my leg or being shivved by a shady character.

Google Maps is a lifesaver on that front. It’s my go to app when I’ve got a dinner party to get to or an obscure location to explore and I don’t want to gesture wildly and communicate in broken English with somebody.

It also works pretty well when I’m not stuck in Chinatown too.

If you’re a driver, Google Maps might not do the trick. We got lost on our way to Tea Gardens due to its slow update time. There are a variety of paid GPS apps that do a better job, I’m sure.

A Game – Varies

Whether you’re sitting on an overnight bus or struggling to sleep on uncomfortable airport seats, a good game is going to be your best friend when you’re miles from home and don’t have money to buy a magazine or rent a hotel room.

There are no end of addictive games out there, but a few of my favorites are listed below.

There you have it. It’s not a definite list, but it’s a good jumping off point for those looking for iPad apps for travel bloggers. Have I missed any? What apps can’t you do without?




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