What traveller doesn’t get a little kick from marking off all the countries and cities they’ve visited?
The iOS app Shutterbee is like a fun combination of Instagram, a travel discussion board, and a world map. It allows you to keep all your travel stats and memories in one place.
There are hundreds and hundreds of travel-related apps out there, so it takes something special to earn a permanent place on my phone. What I like most about Shutterbee is that it combines pretty much all the aspects I want in a travel tracking app, and it’s a lot of fun to use.
Shutterbee’s main functions are these: You can share travel photos, create a colored-in world map with the places you've been to (and share it!), research and explore destinations by searching other travelers’ photos, and get travel advice from other users.
Overall, I found the clean, simple interface and beautiful user photos very appealing. It’s like having a world of adventure and possibility at your fingertips.
To get started, I created an account and started adding photos. You can import images from Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and your phone. Similar to Instagram, you can crop and add filters.
A cool feature is that it imports the caption and location information from the app you imported from! This means you don’t have to re-type in all your photo captions. You can add the photos’ location manually, too—choose the country, city, and even the landmark, restaurant, or wherever you took the photo. Users can “like” and comment on photos.
Upon uploading the photo, there’s the ability to upload it to Facebook simultaneously, saving an extra step. Further, you can click “nearby” to see the feeds of users physically near you and their latest photos, allowing you to discover things around you that you might not have known about! You can also sort by the most popular photos or the newest.
Next, I checked out the “Explore” magnifying glass at the bottom of the app. If I type in, say, Vietnam, I can see all other user photos that were taken in Vietnam, explore a map of the country, and read or add to user discussions about Vietnam. I love that all these options are connected, which make discovery and interaction so easy--all in one place. I could also mark Vietnam as a place I’ve visited or add it to my “bucket list”.
There isn’t a massive amount of content yet for some locations. There were only four photos that populated for Vietnam, but I’m sure it will grow once more travellers discover this great app!
Let’s keep going. When you are in the Countries tab, you can click another tab for “Top Cities”, which is great if you aren’t familiar with the most commonly-visited towns and cities in a country. It also shows you all the photos tagged from that city, which I also love! It’s like the Shutterbee folks thought of everything a traveler could want!
However, in the “Top Cities” tab, it oddly sorts the cities alphabetically, not by the cities that were visited the most, so you have to sort through lots of barely-visited towns (which there could be hundreds of!) before you find the most-visited cities. That said, this is just a small detail that hopefully will be changed.
Let’s talk about my favorite part: the personalized map. As you add your own photos, Shutterbee keeps track of which countries and cities you’ve visited and generates a coloured-in world map. What traveler doesn’t love looking at a map of all the countries they’ve been to? Admit it--isn’t that one of the most (self-)satisfying parts of traveling? A guilty pleasure!
You can also manually add countries you’ve visited by checking them off a list. They hit the nail on the head with this feature! You can also create a “bucket list” map of places you want to visit. Then, share these maps with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. (But in my experience, many non-traveler friends see this type of sharing as bragging, so maybe keep it to yourself!)
Like Instagram, hashtags are used, and you can “follow” other users or send them a direct message, which is a great way to get direct travel advice. You can see other users’ travel maps, too, which is another feature I appreciate.
So, if I was planning a trip to…Estonia, for example, I can search for “Estonia”, browse user images of the country, select an image I like, and send an Estonia-related question to that user who took the photo.
The Discussion area lets you sort travel topics by the most current and most popular. It’s simple to comment or start new discussions. You can “star” discussions to save especially helpful advice for later.
So how does Shutterbee compare to other apps, like Instagram? Well, it’s similar in these ways: you can post, edit, and use filters on photos, like and comment on photos, and follow and message users. The main differences, in my opinion, are these:
- By keeping all your travel photos and stats in one place, you don’t have to worry about “overwhelming” your friends or followers with too much travel-related stuff.
- The discussion area allows you to directly communication with other travelers.
- And there’s the nifty, colored-in travel map, of course!
- Everything about the app is travel-related, versus Instagram, which is not.
The Bottom Line
All the features of the app are intuitive and easy to use; you’ve got everything you could need for sharing and discovering more on your travels in one app.
The only major downside to Shutterbee is that it’s currently only available on iOS, but hopefully that will change in the near future.
Where to buy: iTunes App Store