A guided tour is a time-honored tradition. For many vacationers, it means boarding a bus packed with other travelers and listening to a paid guide tell tales of the local sights.
Today, that guided tour is often taken in the comfort of your own car with family or friends for fellow travelers. And thanks to travel apps like GyPSy, it has never been easier to plan and execute those events.
The narrated driving tour is just one selection from the flourishing category of travel apps. GyPSy currently offers tours of 37 destinations with the cost ranging from free to $19.99 with selections from Kauai, Las Vegas and Miami-Key West to Vermont’s Route 100 Scenic Byway. The app can be downloaded prior to departure and played offline over a smartphone or tablet, requiring no current cell or wi-fi service. Features include directions, local side trips and behind-the-scenes stories about cultural features, hikes and — a favorite with youngsters — animals likely to be encountered along the way.
“We loved GyPSy because it helped us understand the historical and geological significance of where we were at each turn,” said Yakima’s Josh Logsdon. He and wife Addy (a Yakima Magazine contributor) spent 10 days in September visiting Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Logsdon explained that the couple’s three children “certainly learned a lot while also seeing the extraordinary animals.”
Yakima residents and longtime campers Terese and Jesse Padilla exchanged their RV for a smaller trailer this year and canceled trips that included commercial passenger flights. Terese, who has studied travel books for years, said her favorite applications are Airbnb and VRBO.
“The upside of the pandemic for us was time spent at state parks like Grayland Beach, Potholes and Cascade Peaks Campground near Packwood,” Terese said. “We are planning many more regional adventures in the spring.”
Winter weather is less of a deterrent for retired snowbirds like Gay Dorsey and Mike Poppoff. The Yakima couple travel internationally for both pleasure and business. While that was been curtailed in 2020, Dorsey still has a list of tried-and-true apps that she relies on.
“When we travel to foreign countries, we use WorldCurrency for exchange rates and Google Translate for language problems, as well as Google Maps, of course,” she said. “I carry lots of books with me on the plane by using the Kindle App on my iPad. The other thing that keeps me occupied is the NY Times crossword app and I am never without OpenTable for dinner reservations, and Jazzercize on Demand and MapMyWalk so I can get a workout wherever I am.”
Favorite sites such as Tom’s Guide, Oprah Magazine, Tripsavvy, TripAdvisor, and even PC Magazine as well as organizations such as AAA and AARP all offer recommendations for the best travel apps. The apps vary in ease of use or content, but they have one thing in common — help navigating what is down the road. Many are free or available at minimal cost from the App Store or Google Play and can be installed and set up before heading out. No matter the travel destination, when looking for help with a trip, there is likely a site that will APPly.