Summer holiday is go

Been there, done that. Comic by Busty Girl.

Due to work issues, cute boy and I didn’t get the easter holiday we wanted. This means I haven’t been anywhere in months and I am just about bouncing off the walls for lack of travelling.

Our summer holiday is now planned, so I won’t have to resort to drastic measures to stop the boredom. After our customary stop in England, our destination this summer is Budapest. Judging from my initial attempts to make a small travel dictionary, hungarian is the most, uhm, exciting language I’ve met so far. I will have to dig up some audio samples to figure out how spelling maps to pronunciation.

I’ve gotten a whole bunch of recommendations about where to eat and what to see while in Budapest (thanks, Espen & Hajni), and in trying to organise them I’ve run smack into a first-world problem. You would think that in this age of smart phones and tablets and WiFi and GPS everywhere, organising travel recommendations complete with maps, pictures, comments and clickable phone numbers would be a simple thing. That’s what I thought, at least. In reality there is a surprising lack of appropriate tools to do this.

In the past I’ve used Springpad for this sort of thing. It was never quite ideal, but it did provide room for the basics: Multiple pictures, address automatically placed on map, click-to-call phone numbers, links to official sites and reviews, notes and more notes. However, since my last holiday, Springpad has been “upgraded” to a Pinterest clone, and removed all the useful functions in the process. Addresses are no longer automatically mapped, or even linked to a map. The lovely notes are gone and replaced with social comments. I can still click the phone numbers, but really — I already have an address book on my phone. I don’t need a second one.

No, I’m not linking Springpad or Pinterest. Useless services do not deserve links.

So I’ve been looking for apps that all claim to help with this kind of planning. My most basic requirement is that I can enter data on my computer and access it on my Android phone/tablet (preferably offline), which disqualifies several Android-only or web-only solutions. I’ve gone through about a dozen apps fulfilling this basic requirement, and so far each and every one I’ve tried has the same problem: The app is for making recommendations, not organising recommendations you already have.

Stay.com is the only thing that comes even close to what I want: Its primary purpose is making recommendations, but it will let you enter your own locations. Stay.com’s recommendations come with a lot of information: Clickable address, map, pictures, clickable phone numbers, categories, price. Locations you enter yourself are not so lucky. You can input name and location, upload a single image, and place the location in a single category. Anything else will have to go in a free-form description field. No clickable phone numbers or links. On the plus side, you can download your personal city guide for offline use, and you can see all your saved locations on a single map. It’s the least bad solution around, so I’m keeping it while looking for something better.

Data that isn’t location-based, such as a travel dictionary, notes on culture, tourist traps to look out for, and similar things have no space in Stay.com, so I’ll still need another solution to complement it.

Ah well. I still have a few weeks to look, both for more recommendations and ways to organise them. Obsessing about the packing list should commence next week or so…

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