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  • Writer's pictureRick

iPackTravel: How it all started

iPackTravel app was first introduced on Apple App Store in 2014 as a packing list mobile application for travel trips. It was initially titled as "i Pack for Travel".

Subsequently, more features, such as packing tips for backpackers and itinerary planner with mapping functions, were added and the title was changed to "i Pack & Travel". However, the name of the mobile app remains as iPackTravel — iOS only.

Longji Rice Terrace in Longsheng County, Guilin, China
November 2012, Longji Rice Terraces in Longsheng County, Guilin, China

The idea to create iPackTravel, my own app with features beyond just a packing list, was hatched from a 107-days journey between October 2012 to January 2013. I travelled across southern China from Hainan Island to Guangxi to Yunnan, reaching as far as Shangri-la and then swung around to Xiamen and onwards to Taiwan to the east of China. What I experienced on this trip contributed to what were designed and developed subsequently.

In the years that follows, more apps were developed. They are listed as follow with some brief notes on how I got the ideas to create them.

Interaction between iPackTravel and other apps

1. iCountDays

I wanted to know the number of days I was on the trip and I counted it on the calendar. I needed to know how many days were left before my visa expired so I could leave the country or extend the visa. I needed to know when are the next public holidays in China and Taiwan so I could plan ahead. Anyway, I returned home before the mass human migration started for the Chinese New Year in 2013.

2. iEmo

While traveling and getting involved with local cultures, people, wonderful scenery, etc., emotions were triggered and I can be poetic sometimes. I wanted to take a photo and write my thought on it and share with folks back home. But I did not have an app that I could just snap a photo, write my thoughts before I forget, and post immediately. Sure enough, after I returned home, I had forgotten what were on my mind then.

3. iTreasurer

Keeping a tab on budget and expenses on the long trip was an important task that I did almost everyday to avoid overspending which might cause me to cut short the trip. I counted the money on me when I was alone. If only I had an app that could do the tracking for me than I could just refer to it to know how much I had left. After the trip, I had no clue how much were spent on transportation, food, accommodation, and other expenditures.

iTreasurer became my wallet tracker. I designed it specially for travel use and later expanded it for use in other areas.

4. iGoDutch

One of those good things when travelling was to mingle with fellow travellers and had meals together. Being strangers and budget travellers, we definitely "went dutch" and if the bills could be simply divided equally, things would have been easier. But we came from different cultures and backgrounds and it were fair that we split according to what we ordered. It was then that we talked about the tipping system and service charge system used in restaurants in different countries. I needed an app that can handle both systems and any taxes where applicable.

Before October 2016, the apps were functioning separately from one another until they are integrated into one complementary group with iPackTravel. All the apps were then upgraded to have common interfacing as much as possible without letting users re-learn each of the apps. The Travel Cycle concept was derived and the apps are inter-connected (where applicable). More travel-related features were added in due course and consolidated in one of iPackTravel's application modules, the Travel Library.

Our objective is to make iPackTravel a truly one app for all travel needs.

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