Even the savviest and thriftiest among us can't usually handle traveling all the time (and nor, you could argue, would we really want to be constantly away from home). But what to do when you're hit with a sudden bout of strong wanderlust, bored with the day-to-day and itching to see something new?
The most obvious answer that came to mind was travel apps, since we all know that there's one of those for everything these days. Countries, cities, states – even bathrooms – offer armchair travel-friendly apps with hundreds of pictures, recommendations, and restaurants. Travel the world in 80 minutes, 80 days, or any other amount of time, depending on how long you plan to vicariously travel via iPhone.
North Korea Travel: The hermit kingdom opened its doors a few weeks ago in an unexpected way: virtually. Granted, there are certainly more coffee shops than the two featured in the guide, but the $4.99 app offers a peek into more than 350 points of interest for tourists, including museums, factories, palaces, hotels, and restaurants – reviews included. Since personal travel into the reclusive state is unlikely, this might just be the next best thing.
Fjell & Fjords: Who knew you could take a guided hike to the top of Trolltunga from your phone? Fjell & Fjords documents the most exciting outdoor adventures from Oslo to Bergen, including canoe trips through Ålesund’s Geirangerfjord, spa bathing in Nesbyen, and hiking conquests through Norway’s national parks. Within each activity, there are pictures, maps, and itineraries so detailed that you can practically feel yourself tanning as you read. Better yet, the free app entitles you to discounts on over twenty of the activities listed in it, just in case you ever do make it. (Considering Norwegian Airlines's insanely cheap fares from the U.S. to Norway right now, that could be more realistic than you might think.)
Roadside America: One of the most fascinating aspects of road-tripping across America involves encounters with the beercan houses, dinosaur parks, and even Jimmy Carter peanut statues that rest along the roads. Accordingly, the Roadside America app ($2.99) highlights the historical, quirky, and straight-up weird attractions found near the country's highways. Use it to view pictures and map potential trips around your favorite landmarks.
Tuscany Food & Wine: Half of the battle when traveling to Tuscany (or anywhere in Italy) is deciding where and what to eat. Everything – and we mean everything – looks and sounds delicious, from cinghiale to cantucci. The free Tuscany Food & Wine helps you navigate all of the region's food, wine, and even nature. While directions and nearby suggestions are for visitors actually in the area, anyone can appreciate the tidbits provide insight into the Tuscan culture behind each delectable bite. Vicariously live through pictures, wine labels, and a vivid video...just not on an empty stomach.
Hike the Himalayas: Many of us dream of hiking the top of Everest and looking down upon the world, but of course few of us ever do. The niche app Trek Nepal ($4.99) scales the Himalayas for you, bringing detailed trekking routes and interactive maps without the arduous journey. (For the more serious trekker, suggested itineraries, forums, and practical information about the altitude, duration, and difficulty of each journey also live in the app.)