Travel app allows you to map your trip and share your stories in real-time

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People climb to the top of Machu Picchu in complete darkness, road trip along the East Coast of Australia in a camper van and wander the cobble stone streets of Lisbon in glorious sunshine to discover new cultures, attain an understanding of different perspectives and ultimately widen their horizons. They travel to immerse themselves in these experiences, and consequently most travellers don’t spend much time engrossed in their phones. Instead they choose to see, smell and feel the moments they live in. However, travelling is not only about the present. Travellers want to cherish certain memories for the rest of their lives and share them with others.

Working out of Amsterdam, the team behind Polarsteps have developed a solution that allows backpackers, over-landers and road trippers to tell their travel story the way they want it told. Using ambient location tracking and data from cell-phone masts, Polarsteps allows users to build profiles and create trips that plot their route precisely on a beautifully designed map in real-time. Users are then encouraged to add photos and text as they please to enrich their travel stories. The current functionality allows travellers to keep these private or alternatively post updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The idea for the app came about as a result of Co-Founder Niek Bokkers’ cross-Atlantic journey from France to the Caribbean, during which he posted real-time updates to his family using a GPS device and satellite phone. His project went viral amongst backpackers who loved the idea of real-time storytelling on a map. With the financial support of an angel investor and TMG Startups – De Telegraaf’s startup fund – Polarsteps was launched in beta in early April and is currently seeking further funding.

Speaking to Follow Innovation earlier this month, Koen Droste, Co-Founder and CEO of Polarsteps told us that this is only the beginning: “The way we envision the future is not just a travel-tracking app. What we want to do with Polarsteps is fundamentally disrupt the route-based travel market. What we eventually want to do is connect travellers with local entrepreneurs so as to elevate the travel-experience to a new level.”

In future, local entrepreneurs like tour companies, individual guides and activity-based travel companies will be able to display their offerings on the app. The idea being that they will be able to add activities, tours and other content to their profiles to entice and inspire travellers before or during their trip. By putting them in touch with travellers, Polarsteps aims to create a marketplace that will serve as a research, planning and booking tool.

Koen went on to tell us that although this was initially planned for the next phase of the app’s development, there has already been some uptake: “We are already seeing local travel companies creating Polarsteps profiles. We think the reason those companies do it is because they find our platform to be a more effective and beautiful way in which to show their tours and their offerings compared to a WordPress site, Facebook or Instagram. Polarsteps is made for telling the travel stories.”

Polarsteps is one of several apps tackling the challenges faced by ever-growing numbers of travellers across the world who want to capture and share their stories, but sets itself apart through the use of ambient tracking, an intuitive user-interface and beautiful design.