With a smartphone, traveling can be all fun and games

One of the things I like about my smartphone is that I can make life a little more fun by integrating games into my daily routine. Using my mobile device, I am often playing one of four games while I’m out and about. My favorite mobile games are Ingress, Foursquare, Geocaching, and NikePlus. All of these games rely on the the GPS capabilities of my phone, and I can play most of them without disturbing the rest of the world. These are the the four programs that keep me entertained when I’m traveling, and they just make life a little more fun.

FourSquare

Foursquare is a program that is a little bit social media and a little bit game. The basic idea of Foursquare is that you check into places that you would normally visit. You check in with your phone just to indicate you are visiting a place.

Each time you “check in,” you earn points. You also earn points for finding new places, multiple visits, and adding new places to the Foursquare map. If you check into a place more than anyone else on Foursquare,  you earn the title of Mayor for that place. If you visit the same location category multiple times, e.g., airports, you can earn a badge.

Foursquare Badges
Foursquare Badges

Foursquare allows you to connect with your friends so that you can share where you are so you can socialize face-to-face. There is a leader board that resets each week. The leader board tracks points of all your friends and shows who has checked in more places than the others. You can have a friendly competition with friends.

Foursquare Leaderboard
Foursquare Leaderboard

Businesses can take advantage of Foursquare by simply claiming their business through Foursquare. Once a business owner has claimed a business, they can better track activity and increase foot traffic. Businesses can recognize individuals who “check-in” to their business with a special. They can also recognize the Mayor with specials to encourage more individuals to check in. I frequent Chili’s because they use Foursquare and recognize Foursquare participants.

I have written about Foursquare before. Read these posts to learn more:

NikePlus

NikePlus is the app that I use for running, well, actually walking because I am no longer allowed to run. The NikePlus app has incorporated game elements into the program. First of all, you have levels that become increasingly more difficult. Presently, I am approaching the 1,000k level. It has been motivating to hit those milestone markers. There is always another level to chase.

NikePlus Levels
NikePlus Levels

You also get the badges, recognition, awards, however you want to say it. For example, if you run or walk 5k, NikePlus will log your fastest time for the that 5k.  In addition, you can earn badges for working out 5 times a week, for example.

NikePlus Badges
NikePlus Badges

There is also a leader board, so you can “compete” with your friends. The leader board tracks how folks are doing over the period of a month.

NikePlus Leader Board
NikePlus Leader Board

Finally, I can use Nikeplus to set goals for walking. Right now, my goal is 120 miles in 6 weeks. With two weeks to go, I still have 50 miles to walk.  NikePlus does a great job letting me know what I still have to accomplish to achieve my goal.

NikePlus Goal
NikePlus Goal

Here is another post I wrote about NikePlus, “Will the games Nike+ plays help get me in shape?

Geocaching

Geocaching is another app that I use just make life just a little more fun. It is the oldest GPS game I have been playing. I first started with a GPS unit, I now use my phone. I actually got back from lunch in Santa Fe where I found my first New Mexico cache.

New Mexico Geocache
New Mexico Geocache

Geocaching is essentially a treasure hunt. Individuals hide a cache. A cache typically has a log where you sign in. They also have trinkets that you can take as well as add your own. Caches vary in size from nanocaches to large ammo boxes. Some caches require finding multiple locations before receiving credit. Caches are well hidden and often a challenge to find. You initially navigate to a cache location with a GPS, you then must search using your intuition and problem solving skills. Here is a map of geocaches in the Santa Fe area (the smiley face is the cache I just found):

Map of geocaches in the Santa Fe, NM area
Map of geocaches in the Santa Fe, NM area

When you find a geocache, you must log the find on the Geocaching.com Web site.

List of Geocaching Finds
List of Geocaching Finds

Because of geocaching, I have seen places that I would normally not visit. Geocaching has made walking a little more entertaining. It is fun to get off the beaten path and find geocaches in remote parts of different states as I travel. If I am making a long journey, I will use geocaching as a way to get out to take a break and stretch my legs.

Ingress

Ingress is the latest GPS game that I have started to play using my smartphone. Ingress is an augmented reality program. It is a battle between two worlds the Resistance and the Enlightenment. This battle is happening all over the globe.

Ingress Map
Ingress Map

To begin the game, you decide upon a side: Resistance or Enlightened. You then begin looking for portals to claim. Portals are created at publicly accessible landmarks. You can capture unclaimed portals or fight for ownership of “enemy” portals.

Showing an Ingress Portal
Showing an Ingress Portal

You take over these portal using your mobile device. With your mobile device, you can capture portals, build up defenses, and attack enemy portals. You also have the ability to link portals together for added benefits. I began playing Ingress while in San Francisco, and I have played it in Laramie, presently, I am in Santa Fe getting ready to capture a couple of portals.

Ingress Screenshot
Ingress Screenshot

Once again, playing GPS games is just something to do while you’re exploring a town. These are the four games that keep me amused when I am out of the house. They make life a little more fun and encouraged me to explore areas that I have never seen before. These programs get me off the beaten path. Here is another article I wrote talking about adding more fun to your life, “Are we too serious? Should we play more games?

What kind of program are you using when you’re a traveling to make your life just a little more fun?

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