Travel Essentials: AllSubway

In the last year of my post-doc, I’ve found myself traveling a great deal more than I had ever anticipated. And thanks to my fellow writers here at ProfHacker, I’ve been well prepared for the journey. Whether you’re trying to organize your travel with digital tools, dealing with delayed flights or lost luggage, getting started with TripIt, or just reflecting on travel in the twenty-first century, odds are that there are ways you can make your travel more efficient or a bit more pleasant.

Today, I want to mention a new iOS app that’s recently become an important part of my travel portfolio: AllSubway. Essentially, the app provides you with high-quality scans of subway maps from all over the world. There are, according to the developer, 137 maps, including major cities in Europe, North America, South America, Australia, and Asia. There are even a handful of cities in Africa. When you launch the app, you simply choose the city that you would like to see, and there’s the map. You can pinch to zoom in and out and examine the routes of the city.

It’s worth noting that the app does not give you train schedules of any sort nor does it help you plan your route. It’s just static maps. You could probably get access to all of these details by simply connecting to the website of the transit authority you are currently using. BUT, the app’s killer feature is that the maps are downloaded to your device already. So if you get someplace (like, say, underground) and can’t get a 3G or wi-fi signal, you’ve still got access to your maps. For someone without a smart phone (like myself), these maps are a lifesaver when you can’t understand what’s being said on the train’s PA.

AllSubway is a pretty good bargain at only $0.99, but it’s worth noting that it’s not a universal app. The iPad version will cost you another $0.99. And while I’m normally a skinflint when it comes to apps, I’ve gone ahead and bought both versions, so I’ll have access to maps on either my iPod Touch or the iPad when I travel to a few new cities this fall.

How do you navigate the subway when you’re traveling? If you’re an Android user, what apps do you like using for subways? Let us know in the comments!

[Lead image by Flickr user Cem K. (iyiinsan) / Creative Commons licensed]

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