Some may object to the title of this post as being too audacious. Especially coming from someone who has just been once to London. But I think once you finish reading this post and get a chance to actually test this, you might agree with me.
So I had made this trip to London last Christmas with my wife and it was special in many ways. Among other trips, this one was planned in less than 25 days right from booking tickets, visa to itineraries, shopping everything.
Typically we do a lot of research and carry at least 30-40 pages of documents supporting our itinerary. So during one such research session, I came across something really useful which proved to be a game changer for my trip to London in terms of the freedom it allowed us to enjoy the trip. And I strongly felt the need to share with those who may travel to this wonderful city as it is extremely useful and relates to local travel.
One of the not so enjoyable aspect of travelling to a new city has to be the absence know how about local transportation networks. (This is coming at such an apt time considering I am writing this blog sitting on a train from Guangzhou to Shenzhen district in China at 10 pm and wondering how I will reach the hotel once the train arrives, since here in China it’s just so complicated and people don’t understand English)
You end up spending precious time which otherwise you could have spent enjoying the holiday, in simply reaching to your destination. There are trials and errors you need to undertake and sometimes it can prove very expensive. Also the lack of knowledge leads to tremendous uncertainly and feelings of uneasiness till you don’t reach the destination. You actually don’t enjoy the process.
Hence this discovery was all the more special.
This took only 20 minutes to be installed on my iPhone and iPad and what I got in return was priceless. The freedom to enjoy my holiday without worrying about how to travel in London. I was a pro in few minutes’ w.r.t local travel in London even before I had landed there.
Ok enough of the suspense and let me share this amazing resource – The CityMapper App.
If someone were to ask me the biggest travel hack from my London trip it would be a no brainer- that of installing CityMapper App on my iPhone.
What is CityMapper?
It’s simply an app which helps you reach your destination by offering exact route mapping across buses, trains, taxi and on foot. And its 100% accurate. Some may say, “Doesn’t Google Maps do the same thing?” And the answer would be a big NO.
Let me give you an example and probably you understand what’s so special about the app.
Imagine you are sitting in the hotel Room (For us it was Room No. 912 – Premier inn at Waterloo) and thinking about going to Trafalgar Square. However since this is you’re first time in the city you don’t really know how to go. So what do you do? Just access the CityMapper App.
So CityMapper will point out your current location using inbuilt GPS. Then once you type your destination is when the real magic happens.
It will give you 4 options to reach your destination.
First it will tell you the distance and the route if you plan to go walking. This is really helpful if these landmarks are close by. Also the estimated time. More like Google Apps.
It will then present an option for reaching the destination by the London bus. In fact it’s so detailed that it will show where is the nearest bus station, which bus will take you to Trafalgar square and in how much time and what route those buses will take. And the best part? It will tell exactly what time the next bus is arriving. Can it get any better!
Once bus drops you to your nearest destination. It will then tell you exactly how much you need to walk to reach the exact destination. It’s that precise.
That’s not all. For Tube/Rail, it will inform in the same way, the nearest station, which platform the train will arrive, the stations along the route. If there is an interchange, where you need to get down and where you need to catch the next one. Once you are out of station how to reach the destination is also outlined.
In fact, we went there in December, it was raining on most of the days, and would you believe they even had a rain safe option. What does it mean?
Simply using the route suggested which may be longer but you will have the lowest probability to get wet!
As you would imagine, armed with this super app, we had the freedom to travel wherever we wanted. Sometimes we just got onto any bus and traveled around ( we had the 7 days access pass) . And when we were bored. Just opened the app and clicked the ‘take me back’ home option which would then inform exactly how to reach the hotel back safely.
In a nutshell, with this one app you can be more knowledgeable than locals for local travel.
At the best part. All this for free. They should actually charge for something as useful as this.
We would have saved hundreds of pounds in trials and errors and more importantly saved so much time to reach destination using this app. I so wish how every country could have this. Travel would have been even more fun! But for now London is a lot more fun because of CityMapper.