Last year I was looking for a new way to keep track of the details of my trip to Spain.  I wanted to be able to do four things:

  • Have a listing of where I went (like a map of all my stops during each day, in case I wanted to remember a very specific location during or after my trip)
  • Have a written journal of what I experienced so I wouldn’t forget anything when I got home
  • The ability to put pictures I took alongside the journal, or at least track the days the photos were taken so I could associate them with what I wrote
  • The ability to access this information easily when I got home in an organized manner, preferably so I could easily transfer the information over to a company like Snapfish that prints books.

Overall, the goal was to be able to physically produce a book that recorded my memories without having to try and recall them when I came home. That is quite a list of demands from one piece of software (and my brain)!

I knew I couldn’t automatically do this with my iPhone.  While pictures are given geolocations, I would have to manually look through each photograph to see on a map where the picture was taken, and while that’s useful, the pictures still didn’t have any textual association.  I knew I could use Google Docs or something like that to write the text, and that would be fine, but inserting photos that way isn’t exactly convenient (especially from a phone). Obviously I could try and make something like a Snapfish book while I was out and about, but I just wasn’t sure that would give me the flexibility I wanted, or feel inspiring enough to keep at it the whole trip.

Luckily, I found the app PolarSteps before I left!  The app was free when I downloaded it (yay!), and had a lot of features I was looking for.  Using PolarSteps was simple: I just add a new “trip” with my start and end date, and the app automatically creates a trip with my destination.  When we started our trip to Spain, for example, we left on June 1st, 2018. I’d already told PolarSteps that I’d be travelling on June 1st. We flew from Jacksonville, FL to Fort Lauderdale, FL.  When I checked my app the next day in Fort Lauderdale, it had both Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale listed as “steps” for me on June 1st, and Fort Lauderdale for June 2nd.

So, PolarSteps was tracking my locations, which was a plus.  The excellent thing is that for each step of your journey you can add text and photographs!  So, essentially I was able to write about my day each evening and then add in pictures.

The final plus about PolarSteps is their included book feature.  After you’ve finished your trip, you can print a book! There is an editor feature that lets you clean things up first, and then off it goes to the printing press.  I haven’t printed a book with them yet as my book would have been large and about $90, but I felt confident that the book would have been good quality.

So, while PolarSteps met my requirements, there were a few things I didn’t love.  

PolarSteps tracked my city, but the bulk of the trip was going to be within the same city.  So unless I went into a part of town that was technically a different city, it just had one big step tracked for me for 5 days.  Thankfully I was able to add steps manually, so each day when I went to write, I added in the same city again so I could put text and photos, but it definitely didn’t track where I went during the day.  For a journey of multiple cities, that wouldn’t matter to me, but I wanted to dig deep within the tracking of the town I was in. A couple of times on the trip I did want to find a shop I’d previously been to, but I had to go into the photos I took near that area and use my iPhone’s geolocations.  That’s fine, I just wanted an app that did that, too. Also, the steps seemed a tick bulky. For instance, we arrived in Miami, and I talked briefly in there about how we got to Miami from Fort Lauderdale. Then we left Miami that night and had some humorous incidents at the airport. In order to write about that, I had to add a Miami step again that day, which looked like I “traveled from Miami to Miami.”  

Overall, I really enjoyed having the app.  I did go back in on the website when I got home and filled in more information about each day, but having that beginning record of what I did helped to spark my memory more.  I mostly recorded little things that I knew I would forget, and big important things with the day, and then at home filled in more details. I plan on using PolarSteps again when we go to Italy next month, so that has to say something good about the app.   I would recommend either getting PolarSteps to help you record your memories while out of town, or possibly starting a travel blog like I did. 🙂 or PolarSteps in the App Store