I would say that I am a tech reliant vip. The reason for this is because I don’t go anywhere without my iPhone, iPad and headphones. No I am not an apple geek, but I am reliant on google maps, street view and up to the minute travel planning such as ‘Travel line’, ‘National Rail’ and even local weather, all of which have fabulous little app’s.
When travelling somewhere new, I am meticulous at planning my route, my first port of call is The Travel Line, where all I need to do is put in a start and end point. I can even put the time I either want to leave, or arrive by. It will then come up with a list of travel options for me that include walking, buses, ferries, coaches and trains. This is where I can ‘tweak’ it to my preferences, for example, I can put the maximum time I am happy to walk between other transport. I can even view the route on a map, which is animated to show me through the whole trip, with icons for walking, buses, ferries and trains. Which I can zoom in on the work out.
If I am travelling by train, I can then check up on all the information that I need via the National Rail app. The reason I check this too, is because it will break the information down even further. It will list each of the stops that the train will make, it will also tell me which platform the train departs from and arrives on…. This is particularly handy if I need to change trains at a station, as I can navigate much more by myself without additional assistance. (although if I need it, I will ask for help from the station staff)
I will plan my route from home and then take ‘screen shots’ of the information or even save the travel details to my calendar, just incase I have no internet access via wifi or 3g on my travels.
When planning my route, lines on a map do nothing for me. So I am an avid fan of googles ‘street view’ this enables me to visualise the route from a bus stop, along a walk or even find short cuts, that the route planners may not show.
This is of course only as good as the information that has been recorded, for example if I street view my own house, I see the driveway in its old position, not it’s actually how it is now.
But as the map navigation is continually updated, I (as yet) haven’t become completely stuck because of it.
An example of this was earlier this week, when I had to visit the Southampton offices for Guide Dogs. An office that is a ‘tad’ out of the way for guide dog owners.
So I planned my route at home, based on the time that I needed to arrive, then to allow for delays, followed the details for the slightly earlier journey.
Which in this instant was needed.
Having navigated to the train station and from there to the bus stop needed in southampton, I even asked for assistant from the people at the stop with me, to help with the bus I needed. As a major calling point all of the other buses that came to the stop all pulled in. My bus didn’t and the person who said they would help me, did help, but only to tell me that the bus had driven straight past!
So, out came my phone to check the time of the next bus from the stop I was at…. And it wouldn’t be for another hour. So the Costa next to the stop enabled me to piggyback on wifi (as it is faster than 3g, which I would have used if no wifi was available)
Thankfully, there was another bus that would take me to Chilworth where the office is situated. It was however, 15 minutes walk from where I was, in an area of Southampton that I wasn’t familiar with. So, out came the headphones and on when google maps.
I was able to navigate and instruct Vicky my guide dog without having to look at my phone at all.
I have ‘over ear’ headphones so that I can comfortably listen to information that I need, and have one ear free to hear my surroundings. Plus I have never been a fan of in-ear as I find them too good at noise cancelling and also, quite uncomfortable as my ears are quite sensitive.
So, with my bit of tech I was able to find my way to the other bus. Once getting on, having double checked the number and that it stopped where I wanted imagine my surprise and relief when the driver said ” my bus has audio, so you will know when we are approaching your stop.”
There is an Eclipse route between Fareham and Gosport that has audio on it, just like you get only trains! But I wasn’t aware of other services or even other bus companies were using it.
So instead of having to rely on my iPhone and it’s apps, I would just sit back, relax and listen for my destination.
Audio announcements on buses is a major plus for many people, not just us VIPs, it works for people who are unfamiliar to the area or those travelling in the dark. Because, unlike trains you can’t count the stops on a bus as the bus does t always stop!!
So, with the help of all this tech I am able to gain even greater independence, without having to fully rely on others, I can also use public transport instead of more expensive taxis thanks to free apps that are available for smartphone and iPhone users alike.