There are plenty of apps out there that make traveling easier. From currency converters to language translators, from offline maps to simple ways to score cheap airfare. But there are also many apps on the market that want to make traveling FUN. Below are a sampling of some that turn exploring new places into games, where participants can win points (that may or may not matter), prizes, and above all, memorable experiences.
In 2014, Swarm was born as an offshoot of Foursquare. With its predecessor heading in a more Yelp-like direction, Swarm took over all of our check-in needs–and offered so much more! Working in tandem with Foursquare, Swarm is a free apps that allows users to check into locations to earn coins and compete against friends for bragging rights and super-fun stickers. Based on your history, the app can then allow Foursquare to give you more tailored suggestions for things to do, see, and of course, eat. You can still earn mayorships for having the most check-ins at a specific location, but the app has also started announcing contests where you can win actual prizes for completing missions, and some businesses even offer discounts and free merchandise in exchange for checking in.
It’s also a great way to remember where you’ve been. The app now allows you to search your check-in history, so you can tell your friend the exact name of that great bar you went to in London or the vintage store in New Orleans that had huge discounts on Tuesdays.
Instead of feeling the pressure to do everything a new city has to offer, Stray Boots takes that sometimes-overwhelming feeling and turns your time into a game. While the app itself is free, the tours of each city differ in price depending on where you are and how large your group is. A cross between a walking tour and a scavenger hunt, Stray Boots uses trivia and challenges sent through SMS to encourage you to get out and explore. Whether you want to experience an entire area, or maybe just the Metropolitan Museum of art, the app is great for team building or just as a way to spend the day together as a family.
Pocket Ranger is the perfect app for those who love to travel and explore the great outdoors. It is the official –and free–smartphone outdoor mobile guide for more than half of the state park systems and fish and wildlife agencies across the country. In addition to useful information like maps, weather forecasts, and safety alerts, Pocket Rangers also offer users GPS Tours. These tours lead you to geolocations, or landmarks, throughout the park by providing clues and facts. And if majesty of Mother Nature isn’t a big enough draw, you can also win prizes by participating.
JetBlue has worked hard to make air travel enjoyable again by offering more legroom and unlimited free snacks throughout your flight. But they’ve also tried to make it fun by introducing TrueBlue Badges. With Badges, you can earn rewards and points for participating in JetBlue-related activities like flying (duh!) or discussing your travels on social media, which lead to more flights, and thus, more badges.