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Last summer, I went on a 3-months-long trip across Canada. Such trips are a once in a lifetime experience, no matter where you take them, and no matter what you end up doing while travelling. That said, one of the greatest challenges of any trip is finding the most interesting attractions, the best places to eat, and fun local events. When you find yourself in a different city every day or every week, the process of scouting several different apps in search of the best places to go to becomes a bit tedious.
TripWhat is a Web and iPhone app [No Longer Available] made by the same people behind the excellent Sortable, the money-saving Geekaphone, and the effective CPUBoss. After helping us choose everything from smartphones, tablets and cameras, to CPUs and cars, it’s time to find the best things to do, eat, and see in almost every city in North America.
TripWhat aggregates information and reviews from multiple websites such as Facebook, Google Maps, Last.fm, SeatGeek, UrbanSpoon, Wikipedia, WikiVoyage, and Yelp, making it super easy to explore any city, find the things you want to do, and get on with the fun.
Starting with TripWhat is as easy as entering the name of the city you want to explore. If you’re not even sure about that, you’ll find some popular choices in the top toolbar, as well as in the “More” dropdown menu on the far right.
With information currently available only for North America, TripWhat can help you explore almost any city in the United States or Canada, and find places, activities, entertainment, restaurants, and even trip ideas. Once you choose a city, TripWhat will present a map of that city, with pins representing all kinds of interest points. As you zoom in on a specific area, you’ll discover three types of pins: blue for sights, green for restaurants, and red for events and entertainment.
Alongside this map, you’ll find a visual list of the same attractions you see on the map. Each attraction comes with one image or more, a link to the place’s official website and social networks, an address, and for restaurants, a star rating from Urbanspoon. As soon as you place your mouse cursor over one of these tiles, the corresponding pin on the map will start jumping and waving, making it easy to match tile to pin.
Clicking on a tile reveals more info about the place, depending on the type of place you’re looking at. This can include a quick summary, additional photos, opening hours, contact information, etc. If you need more information, finding your way to the official website is easy.
Finding Specific Places
TripWhat’s interface is nice enough, but it does tend to get a little bit confusing at times, as there are several ways to reach each section, and it’s not always clear which section you’re looking at. In general, you can focus your search on sights, restaurants, events, and trip ideas. Some sections also include several subsections, and this is where it gets a little confusing, especially when you filter the results and then want to go back to their unfiltered form.
To keep it simple, I suggest using the icons on the right to navigate through a city’s attractions. The restaurants tab offers the best eats in town, complete with all the information you’re going to need. Click on the star rating to view more Urbanspoon reviews about the place.
In the events tab, you can filter the results according to time of event, making it easy to find an event for tonight, for tomorrow, for the upcoming weekend, etc. Here too, you can find all the necessary information in every tile, with quick links to Wikipedia pages and Facebook pages, venue addresses, and more.
In trip suggestions, you can sometimes find themed mini travel guides such as “top sights to see”, “best pizza in town”, “best family-friendly sights”, etc. These are just collections of places, already marked on the map, which you can use for inspiration when planning your trip.
Theoretically, TripWhat makes it possible to share your finds using the “Link” button on the top right corner of the map. Unfortunately, this link is often dead, so I wouldn’t send it along without checking it first.
For this review, I was only looking at TripWhat’s Web app. The service also comes as an iPhone app [No Longer Available], which includes the option to save your favorite activities and places to your trips, thus creating your very own mini travel guide which you can always refer back to. The app could be even more useful while on the road. Don’t worry, Android users, TripWhat will soon be available for you as well.
TripWhat doesn’t offer any information you won’t find on other websites, but if you’re trying to make plans and don’t know where to start, it’s going to be a huge help. Just enter the name of the city, and you’re good to go. The hardest part of the process is going to be choosing which fun thing to do!
Planning a road trip? You’re going to want to plan more than what you do on your stops. Check out these informative websites for planning a road trip, and other tools to help you prepare for the journey. Have fun!
How do you find the best things to do on your trips? Share in the comments.