Travel | The Reconnoisseur

Downloadable travel guides that make the world easier to navigate

Clever travel guides for smartphone users

Downloadable travel guides that make the world easier to navigate

August 07 2010
Julian Allason

I have never been entirely happy with online travel guides. Too often they are used merely as a means to persuade consumers to buy the printed version and are therefore emasculated and over-generalised. And of course one needs web access, hardly a certainty in destinations such as Indonesia. Lonely Planet has tackled the problem creatively by making individual chapters of its print guides downloadable on a chargeable basis. Now I have discovered an even more intriguing solution.

The fold-out Luxe city guides enjoy something of a cult following among stylish bon vivants, being snappily written, up-to-date and pocket-sized. As in shirt pocket. (My only gripe has been the excessive use of capital letters.) Now they are being released as apps for the iPhone, Blackberry and other smartphones. Some ingenuity has gone into making each page legible (if anything more so than the printed version) and easy to navigate. So how do they stack up?

On the strength of the Bali guide, which I have just downloaded for a modest £4.99, so far, so exotic. The “resident editor” in Bali is Mary Justice Thomasson-Croll, who, when I met her on the island a couple of years ago, struck me as knowing more about Balinese fun than anyone. Her team’s advice appears fully compliant with How To Spend It’s judgments, so it must be right.

On my next expedition to the island of dreams I shan’t be encumbered by guidebooks, even pocket-sized ones; just the latest Luxe update.

See also

Sight Seeing, Guides