I’m not proud, but I admit that PokemonGO has been downloaded onto my phone and that I occasionally “PokemonSTOP” in the middle of the sidewalk to the chagrin of others, eager to #catchemall. (Or at least that really cute one.)
But I’m not alone.
Gamers around the world have found solidarity on their ambitious quest, and less than a month after the release date, claims have been made that the app helps players to be more physically active as they leave home and walk to designated interaction points. The app has indeed motivated some couch potatoes to get moving, but there have been further pronouncements that PokemonGO facilitates travel.
While players can explore their hometowns and discover unique landmarks as they roam varied terrain to capture more elusive fictional species, the app equally facilitates and distracts from travel, diverting attention to the phone screen in order to collect the Pokemon before it disappears.
So, here is a list of other interactive, incentive-based travel options that will help you to familiarize yourself with the surroundings:
1. Tour Guide Apps
Most similar to PokemonGO, in that you use a smart phone or tablet, are interactive tours. Rather than following along in a crowd straining to hear the tour leader, you can become familiar with the city simply by allowing your phone to view your location because apps such as Field Trip will pull up relevant information about your surroundings. For more interaction, try HiddenCity, which sends questions to your phone, leading you to certain landmarks for clues. Send in the correct answers to continue the tour. These tours will mostly be available in large cities.
If you like treasure hunts, letterboxing is for you. Originating in England, but modified all over the world, you can search for clue sets by city (or country) on Letterboxing or AtlasQuest. These hints will guide you to a small cache, containing a rubber stamp and a logbook that lists past worldwide visitors. After collecting an impression of the signature letterbox stamp for your collection, you can sign the log, too. (Some letterboxers even create a stamp specifically for logbook signing.) Whether locals or other travelers left the clues, the instructions may include great tourist recommendations at the site of a letterbox or by noting scenic views and delicious eateries along the way.
Travelers who possess a compass and strong navigational skill will enjoy geocaching, a more challenging version of letterboxing. Similar to letterboxing, sets of clues can be found online, but at the end of the search you will find a random knick-knack. Once you conclude the journey, you collect the item, write your signature in the log and leave a new object for the next person to discover. Again, if you’re lucky, the hints will take you to a great hangout that you wouldn’t have otherwise found. Because you can download and read the clues ahead of time, sort through the hints and select those that specifically mention an interesting landmark or destination before you set off.
So take a break from PokemonGO to travel and interact with your surroundings. But if you can’t lay aside your mission to become a first class level 40 trainer, you can join one of the specific PokemonGO tours that are cropping up in London and Nottingham. With the craze still running strong, more are sure to follow.
Written by Alison Roberts-Tse