You love traveling, right? I personally don’t know a single person who doesn’t. Be it for day trips to a nearby town or a trekking tour of Mongolia, a trip to see the cultural treasures of Europe or an African safari, most of us enjoy traveling or at least have dreams of trips we will surely realize someday.
I have been lucky to be able to take at least one trip a year to a place I’ve never been to before. I have made a lot of discoveries along the way and oftentimes witnessed things I wished I could instantly share with my friends. Like the amazing catch on a fishing boat in Alaska or the Bali sunset that colored the sky and ocean in dozens of shades of red, orange, pink and yellow.
As I searched for the perfect travel app to use on my iPhone for logging my travels, I found that some of them seemed like ‘it’ in the beginning, but then I’d discover some deal-breaker. An app might require an Internet connection to create entries or posts, or not offer a way to share my journal entries with my Facebook friends. After several months of testing different apps I finally struck gold last spring with the free Australian-made ShutterBee.
ShutterBee is basically sort of a mix between a social network and a blogging platform that combines the best of both. You can use it to follow other travelers (or even non-travelers, as it can be used for all kinds of purposes), communicate both through post comments and through private messages (Instagram doesn’t have that!), make your account private or public, share your posts to other social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Tumblr.
You can get information on the countries, cities and places you intend to visit from posts by other travelers who have been there. See their real photos, comments and recommendations. This can actually be a great help in planning an off-the-beaten-track vacation. Granted, there are other apps that do that, but none that would combine this with all of ShutterBee’s other cool features.
Here is how ShutterBee makes keeping a trip journal easy and fun for me:
1. When I depart on a trip and as I move from place to place, I can check in automatically at each location and specify what type of transportation I took there.
2. I snap pictures of things that inspire or surprise me along the way and post them to ShutterBee with a copy to Facebook right away. What’s really great about ShutterBee is that you can take photos using the app or pick photos from camera roll or other apps (including your Instagram pics). The app will automatically tag your photos with the location and local weather, or you can disable the tags if, for instance, you want to have your friends guess where the photo could have been taken.
3. And it doesn’t even have to be a photo! You can simply share a story or your comments using the story post feature. It can be just text or you can add multiple photos to it. This is one of my favorite features in ShutterBee. I can write about a trip to the zoo with pictures of all my favorite animals attached, or talk about the Eiffel Tower and include shots of it taken from different angles.
4. I absolutely love the panorama posts! I try to take a lot of panorama shots, since they work great to give my friends the feeling they are there. The panoramas spin when you view them and the scenery in them seems to come to life.
5. The app works offline! This means you can take pictures and create posts even if you are traveling in the middle of a jungle, on the Trans-Siberian Railway or anywhere with little or no Internet access. Posts created while offline get queued and start uploading automatically as soon as there is a connection.
I am also thankful to ShutterBee for my now good friends Paul and Susan from Minnesota, whom I met in Mongolia thanks to this app. I was traveling solo and using ShutterBee to look up feedback on a restaurant I was going to go to that night. I found Susan’s comments on the restaurant – she and her husband didn’t like it a bit. I asked her what other places she’d recommend, and that’s how we discovered that they were still in town and we were actually staying at the same hotel. The rest of my stay in Ulaanbaatar was more fun with these guys as my guides (it was their third time in Mongolia).
Having used ShutterBee for a few months and 3 different trips now, I can safely say that it is the best travel app I’ve tried so far. I find myself using it even when I’m not traveling, as most of my iPhone-owning friends have signed up for ShutterBee accounts by now and are having lots of fun with the app too. I feel that ShutterBee has great potential and hope it gets discovered by more people soon.