When I travel the experience is not only about living in the moment but also about meeting with friends and throwing around ideas for the next travel adventure. Even if we aren’t all geography nerds we inevitably need some kind of map or some kind of reference to the world so we can say “hey where are we going in Africa next year” or “where we going in Asia next year?”
The advent of the iPad and its many knock-offs has definitely helped the geography nerd cause as there are now a variety of map apps available. Over the past few years I’ve worked with several map apps but I will say that the “must have” app is the National Geographic World Atlas app by the National Geographic Society. At US$1.99 it is a bargain, and it is compatible with the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad but requires iOS 5.0 or later. There is also a (cough) Android version.
The reputation of National Geographic is stellar and it is no surprise that this app is so good. Founded in 1888 in Washington, D.C., the National Geographic Society’s historical mission is “to increase and diffuse geographic knowledge while promoting the conservation of the world’s cultural, historical, and natural resources.”
As a child I couldn’t wait until the National Geographic magazine came every month so I could steal the map from the center and put them with the others I had stolen. I had a huge stack of maps in my closet and I would stare at them for hours at the time. This continued throughout my teenage years. Most kids hid porn, I hid maps. I’m not sure if I realized that I would be traveling to many of the places on those maps but doing so now seems like the next logical nerd step.
So back to the app. Not only do you get an HD 3-D image of the earth that you can spin and peruse the countries of the world, but if you have wifi access you can zoom in with the precision of a Google map
One of the newer features the National Geographic app has is the country information, or “location details.” By simply hitting a little tab on the right side of the screen you can access information about a particular country such as the flag, population, language(s), religion(s), literacy rate, life expectancy, governmental structure and currency facts. Within this section, another tab, “capital” will give you the population, local time and weather of that country’s capital city.
Other options within the app include a currency calculator and the ability to save more detailed maps for offline use, when you do not have access to wifi. There is also a link to shop for printed maps should you want to cover your walls with them.
Nerd or not this app is a must have for any world traveler.