This post is from staff writer April Dykman.
As I write this, I’m in New York City on a trip I spent about two hours planning. Normally, I like to do my research. I firmly believe research work upfront saves a lot of time, money, and hassle while traveling, but this vacation snuck up on me, and I ran out of time.
So far we’ve managed to make our way around just fine without spending ridiculous amounts of money or getting lost (especially nice since it’s a bit colder than the 78-degree weather we left behind). One of the reasons things have gone so smoothly is that I did have time to download the free NYC Way app before we left home, and it’s been such a help that I wanted to share it with GRS readers.
Trip-planning with MyCityWay
Launched in 2009, MyCityWay is described as “a one-stop discovery platform for over 50 categories in the city — including restaurants, nightlife, public restrooms, transit, traffic, tourist attractions…” and more. Available for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry, the MyCityWay currently has an app for about 20 cities, mostly in the U.S. London looks like the first venture into international cities.
So what does this app do that’s so helpful? First, you can create a trip, which stores all of the places you want to visit for easy access. After saving places to a trip, you can view information about the places, such as museum admission prices, hours, phone numbers, and more. You also can go to a map view that flags each of your places.
I looked up a few articles about New York City on the Frommer’s and Budget Travel website, picked out the places and restaurants that sounded good, and searched for them on the app (it found all of them). I added them to a new trip. I also checked out the list of free things to do and added a couple of places that seemed interesting. We’re spending six full days traveling, so after marking about 20 places, restaurants, and activities, I can use the map view to see what is close together and make a general plan each day.
Another great feature is that MyCityWay works with GPS, allowing the user to select a place from the trip and get directions for walking, bicycling, or driving from their current location. Last night I got off the subway, opened my trip, selected The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and instantly had directions and a map for the quickest way to walk there from the terminal.
The app also has been useful in getting around the city, something for which you can’t always plan. It includes a restroom locator, street eats, coffee shops, wifi locations, transit information like subway routes and locating the nearest terminal, grocery stores, and more. There’s even stuff locals might find useful, such as parking, apartment listings, classifieds, job listings, car services, and live traffic cameras. After going to a museum, if you’re craving a pizza from somewhere within walking distance, you can search by cuisine and immediately get a list of the closest pizzerias, plus reviews.
According to their website, MyCityWay plans to roll out additions like personalized local recommendations based on user profile, choice history, and current situation. “Premium productivity features” — I’m guessing that means a paid version — will include features to plan a day in the city, write notes and to-do lists, and collaborate with friends.
I admit I was wary of becoming a smartphone user. But I made the switch a few months ago, and between MyCityWay and a few museum apps that have helped me to easily navigate from one place to the next on one small device (no maps, travel books, and brochures to lug around), I’ve been sold.
What are some of the ways you use technology to save time and money while traveling?
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