My Dream Travel App

There is certainly no shortage of apps out there aimed at travelers. Campground finders, hotel locators, discounts, deals, dos, don’t and damn though just none of them really do what I want.

Primarily, I’d like to see a system like iTunes Genius or, better yet, Netflix Recommendations, something that compares what I rate favorably to what other people are rating, and then just tells me what I’d probably like in the area. If janesmith1997 is giving five stars to the same restaurants as I am, then by all means, show me more results by the young lady. Is torpedocouch420 consistently liking the same kinds of bars as me? Great, show me those first.

That said, here would be my personal favorite “dream travel app”.

1. Simplicity. I am always looking for the same kinds of things. Coffee shops, bars, campgrounds and hotels. Aside from that, what I primarily want to learn about are “off the beaten path” attractions, like the Mattress Company in Pittsburgh or Musée Mécanique in San Francisco.

a concept for a travel app showing very simple features as described in the article
Click an icon to find something like that, near you, based on others recommendations who like what you like. Search for something in particular or let a service like Google’s Field Trip do it for you.

I just want to have the things I search for most often at the click of a finger. Google can already recommend web pages to me based on my previous search habits and what my friends like. They have data from restaurants I’ve rated, places I’ve been, where I go more often than others. If Netflix can write it, I’m sure someone at the almighty Google can figure it out as well. For the more obscure stuff, hooking into Field Trip would do quite nicely. Counting my check-ins on Foursquare wouldn’t hurt either.

2. Photographs, Quickly. I want to see a picture of a restaurant more than I want to see the menu. I want an idea of what the waterfall you’re suggesting I hike 20 miles to might look like. I don’t need a video nor a gallery of images taken from every angle that takes all of the mystery out of it. I just want to get a general idea of what we’re talking about here.

3. The Best Review, the Worst, and One Right in the Middle I want to hear the most glowing recommendation, the most horrible experience suffered, and something in the median range. It’s the little clues in reviews that turn me on more so than a specific star rating. “…drinks in the sun on their front porch” is more valuable to me than whether or not someone liked the particular type of pilsner they had on draft that night. “…fleas in the beds and no toilet paper…$35/night” says infinitely more than a one star rating.

4. Liberal Finder. People of similar types are no more easily grouped than by there position as either a liberal or a conservative. Similar types of people flock together, that’s why blue states are usually blue and red states are usually red, why liberals live in cities and conservatives in rural areas. Yes, I know there are exceptions, but trust me this works. Anyone who’s ever gone to Portland or Austin or Asheville knows that some places are just significantly more attractive to folks who lean left. Small towns like Marfa, Texas and Bisbee, Arizona continue to prove the rule. Show me the places populated by people who have the same values as I do, not just on a restaurant level, but on a grander scheme, show me where in the country I might want to drift to next.

5. Small Town / Local Locator. How can one pick from a slew of small black dots on an atlas where might be best to head toward next? I’d like a small town aggregator that shows me all of the little Main Streets which are going to be loaded with the types of things I personally like. Again, remember to just cross check all of this stuff with others who like what I do. And for Christ’s sake, please allow me to turn off chains. I don’t want to know about the $75 Motel 6 in the middle of Futtbuck, Kansas, I’m not here for pleasure, I just want the cheap Jimmy’s Rooms for Rent down the street for the night and I’ll be on my way.

Super Bonus 6. Decent directions. Apple’s Maps suck. Google Maps has missed the mark just as often once you get out of the cities and into more obscure areas. This whole thing needs fixed majorly, until it does the best skill to retain in this digital age is one simple question, “Excuse me, do you know how to get to…?”

Up Next: Dear India et al. Outsources, No Thanks.