It’s no secret that travelers love maps, particularly maps that you can personalize. It accounts for the enduring popularity of pin and scratch maps. Some people have even opted to get outlines of the world tattooed on their body, coloring in the countries they travel to as they go.
I too have dreamt of having a giant map that I can stick on a wall in my “someday” house. On this map, I can color in the countries I’ve visited and stick pins in the places I want to go. I can add photos to this map, taken in the various cities I’ve been to, with people that I’ve met from around the world.
When I’m bored, I can stare at the map, smiling as I reminisce about all the places I’ve traveled to and the memories gained from doing so. And, this map will serve as future inspiration for the parts of the world that I’m yet to step foot in, but so dearly want to.
So long as I’m an expat and traveler, constantly on the move, the desire to own such a map will remain a dream. However, the folks over at Aussie startup ShutterBee have come up with the next best thing – an interactive map you can keep in your pocket (via your cell phone, of course) and better yet, share with other users.
From a travel perspective, photo-sharing apps like Instagram are designed to share where you’ve been. ShutterBee takes this one step further, by sharing where you want to go.
Each user is given an interactive map, on which they can mark their past, present and future travels. The map is divided into two sections – “Visited” and “Bucket List.”
You can use the “Visited Map” to reference where you have been, or even better, where you are now. You can contribute to this map by snapping a photo through the app itself, or uploading pics from your Camera Roll.
From there, you can add a caption, tag the country and the city that you are or were in and add it to your map. ShutterBee is designed to interact with other social media, allowing the posts to be further shared on your Facebook, Twitter, Swarm and Tumblr accounts. You also have the option of simply checking into a place, if you’re traveling on the fly or don’t have any photos that you want to share.
As you add more countries and places, your “travel experience” will grow. This is a fun little feature for anyone who enjoys counting countries.
I like to reminisce about my travels, so I appreciated the fact that I could head back to my Travel Map when I wished, to flick through the countries I’d visited and daydream about the good times that I’d had there.
Trip planning features strongly on the ShutterBee app. You have the option of starting discussions, within the app, mixing socially with other users.
When you're visiting a new city, you'll want to know where the hottest restaurants or bars are, whether there are any events or festivals on – information that you wouldn't glean from a guidebook.
ShutterBee's “Discussions” feature gives you the option of posting questions that other users can see. Locals or experts of the area can then comment on your question, generating a conversation that is open other users of the app.
These questions can be generalized, or to the point – varying from “Who's been to New Zealand? What do you recommend doing there?” to “What should I pack for a trip to Dubai?”
The app's user base is so well-traveled that someone is sure to chip in and answer your most burning travel-related questions.
ShutterBee not only allows you to view updates from followers via your feed – you have the option of exploring what other users are up to via the “Popular,” “Latest,” and “Nearby” feeds.
I best liked the “Nearby” feed, particularly if you’re in a new city. Through this, you will discover events, lesser-known landmarks or restaurants.
The feature that stood out most for me was the “Bucket List Map.” Planning a trip to a new city or country? You can add the destination to your Bucket List map and scroll through the various posts tagged in that particular place, which will aid you when it comes to planning your trip.
I also liked that the photos on ShutterBee tend to be less polished than other photo sharing apps. Users are encouraged to snap photos on the fly, uploading as they go. ShutterBee leans more heavily on the sharing of information, than the attractiveness of one’s picture gallery.
Ideas for Improvement
ShutterBee’s main drawback is that the user engagement is not as high as it is on other, long-established apps. So, many of the features that make this app worthwhile are not at the point where they can be used to their full potential. This is an issue that will resolve itself as word gets out and the user base grows!
As the app is designed to work in real-time, you can’t go back and geo-tag any photos that have already been uploaded. So although I was able to upload a photo I took in Kyrgyzstan while I was in the United Kingdom, my one chance to tag that particular photo was in the moment of upload.
One of my favorite aspects of social media is the power of discovery – particularly when it comes to travel. There have been posts on the likes of Facebook or Instagram that have inspired me to visit specific pop-ups, attractions or even an entire city.
When I see photos or posts that I find inspiring, I’ll either take a screenshot, add a detail to the “notes” section on my phone, or write the info down on a piece of paper.
Often, I’ll find the screenshots get accidentally deleted, the notes app on my phone is a mess of information and anything on paper will eventually get misplaced or thrown in the trash.
Whatever happens, by the time my actual trip planning comes into play, these important details lie lost or forgotten.
There have been many occasions where I’ve wished for a method of compiling information found via social media, that was a bit more streamlined. ShutterBee would be the perfect app for this function.
I was quite the fan of the “Bucket List” map, for the ability to track down things to do, see and eat in a particular area.
I think ShutterBee would really shine if they could take this feature a step further, by allowing you to “pin” photos uploaded by other users that you’d stumbled upon by accident, to your Bucket List Map. As the app is already intended to be a reference point for your past travels, this feature would allow for the same with future adventures around the globe.
While it is useful in trip planning, travel journaling, and general inspiration, what drew me to ShutterBee, in particular, was its community.
Everyone on there is genuinely interested in travel, making it the perfect place to share your travel tips and experiences with like-minded people. This makes it the perfect platform for finding new travel companions or making friends.
This review was written by LC and brought to you in partnership with ShutterBee. All opinions are the author’s own.