1. Roadside America – If you thought that interesting road trips like those we see in the movies are long gone, then you’re wrong. But in this age of Interstate road travel it can be hard to find the weird and quirky attractions that make a road trip truly fun. This app solves that problem by providing a fairly comprehensive list of unusual and downright strange roadside attractions through the U.S. and Canada. I really like this app, but am a little annoyed at the price. It’s $2.99 to download but that only unlocks one region, to unlock all of them you have to pay more. But based on what I’ve seen it’s totally worth the investment, even if you’re only traveling from the comfort of your couch.
Cost: $2.99 with in-app purchases available
2. Pivo App – This is an app that’s more fun than it is useful. It’s important to learn a few words of the local language no matter where you go and for many people one of the key phrases is asking for a much-needed beer. This app provides instructions on how to order a beer in 59 different languages, each with the correct spelling, phonetic pronunciations and even videos from native speakers to help in your cross-cultural interactions. So if you travel overseas a lot, download this and have some fun.
3. Sleepy Traveller – Have you ever been in transit and worried about falling asleep and potentially missing your stop? Well, this minor is not well-founded fear has been addressed through the sleepy traveler app. Simply set your destination and your smartphone’s internal GPS will sound an alarm right before you arrive, ensuring you’ll never miss a stop again. There are limitations of course, since it’s based on GPS if you are underground the app won’t work, but overall it’s a clever solution to every traveler’s fear.
4. Fontly – Do you love vintage signs and advertising? Then this is the app for you. Fontly relies on users who submit photos of cool and unique examples of typography from around the world. You can research areas close to you, or search the world for fun and interesting signs and other forms of design wonders. Quirky and beautiful examples of visual art are disappearing at an alarming rate and this app doesn’t just help you find them, it helps preserve them for years to come. Check it out, it’s neat.
5. Foodspotting – Another user generated app, this one is all about food. Like it or loathe it, for many people sharing photos of what they eat is a big part of the smartphone experience. Foodspotting turns this annoyance into something useful though. Users submit photos and brief reviews of food they eat and where they found it. You can then search certain areas and even specific restaurants to see what people think. This is a great way to see if that new dish is really worth the hype. The app has linked in with Yelp so that this app is much more than a curiosity, it’s extremely useful in finding new and delicious restaurants, especially when traveling to a new city.
Phantom City – I just had to include this app because it is one of the coolest apps out there, even if it is a little limited at the moment. The way cities grow and evolve fascinates me, especially considering that most of the changes in the last century have been planned. This apps examines two cities, New York and Chicago, and shows you what they might have been like had other infrastructure and design ideas been implemented. Superimposed over maps of the cities, you can check out ideas and designs for buildings, roads and bridges that were never adopted. The app feels like a stroll through the art deco inspired film Metropolis more than an iPhone app and the effect is mesmerizing. These apps are fun even if you don’t live in the cities featured just for the amazing ideas of things that might have been.
What are some of your favorite quirky travel apps?