Tired, Hot or Hungry? We Found the Apps for You

Tired, Hot or Hungry? We Found the Apps for You


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THE APP GetMyBoat attempts to democratize the process of finding you the best marine vessel for your next adventure. This app, browser and mobile messaging system allows landlubbers to select “boat rentals and water experiences, worldwide.” Users filter for their ride by location; price; number of guests; and trip type (fishing, powerboats, and boards and paddles are among the choices). The app asks for your preferred trip duration and dates, and then sends the booking inquiry to the operator.

My biggest gripe was the lack of an obvious filtering choice: a captain. I didn’t care what kind of boat, nor trip type, I just knew that no one should trust me at the helm. But with GetMyBoat, unless the listing title specifically states that a captain comes along, one must click down to each individual page. So I clicked and searched for a while.

THE EXPERIENCE Four days before my desired launch date, GetMyBoat matched my party of five with NYCbySea, a boat-charter operation owned by Michael Lombardo. A father himself, Captain Michael had life preservers out and waiting for the two kiddos we brought with us. On a crisp fall Sunday, he took us on a two-hour tour of Lower Manhattan, past the Statue of Liberty and under more than a few bridges, on his 28-foot powerboat. New York at its finest.

ODDITY OF IT ALL Zero. In an age when hopping into a stranger’s car no longer raises much concern, why would hopping onto a boat?REPEAT BUSINESS? How often do I need a boat? And it’s not cheap. A charter with NYCbySea starts at $300, and that’s just for one hour. But for a special event or treat, the app worked seamlessly, and our “water experience” was an adventure, particularly for the two boys.


THE APP Move over Airbnb, this could be the epitome of the sharing economy. Swimply wants to connect waders and bathers with pool owners who don’t want to use their pool, for a price.

Do not expect to find professional-grade photographs of pools and backyards, nor should you expect any clear explanation of why one pool may cost $60 and another $200 an hour. (And don’t be surprised about a 10 percent service fee.)

Worried about privacy? I was, too. The listings indicate whether the pool is visible to the home or street, if the shades would be drawn and if the owner would be at home. But that didn’t help me much.

THE EXPERIENCE A hot Saturday this July we drove to Long Island to swim in a glorious pool that was better than the pictures. I bought cheeseburger fixings and used the grill. Grace, one of the owners, left out suntan lotion and bug spray. As in a sitcom script, the lawn guys came (Grace told them to leave). Out of our 3.5 hours squatting in someone else’s backyard, my son, Sam, was out of the water for at most eight minutes.

It was everything we could imagine about hanging out on a hot summer day at a backyard pool, just not our own.

ODDITY OF IT ALL Mixed reviews here. I can definitively say that an 8-year-old had no concerns over privacy or the general creepiness of an app that instructs strangers to let themselves into the backyard of random homes through the side gate. Sam’s dad gave it a 5 out of 10: “natural and fun in a lot of ways” but weird considering when we had to use the bathroom inside. I give it a 7.

REPEAT BUSINESS? Probably. I really hit it off with Grace, who seemed as nervous as we were. Weirdly reassuring.

Authenticook (Viator)

THE SITE On a recent trip to Kochi, India, I wanted to try a local experience, preferably one focused on food. Authenticook promised “Food Experiences With Locals Across India.” And it was perfect, offering important information and prioritizing the location of each family-run experience (on the three other sites I tested, this information was buried, unavailable until booking or needed to be cross-referenced with a map). However, my request was last minute, and Authenticook had no offerings in my desired location and time slot. So I searched Viator’s mobile browser (the app kept crashing), and found a cooking demonstration and dinner, less than 10 minutes away, in a “200-year-old historic home.”

That’s when it got interesting. Minutes after I received a Viator confirmation, I received a second email, surprisingly from Authenticook, explaining that “due to personal exigency,” the home-chef was unavailable. Authenticook, which I found out later posts its experiences on Viator and other booking apps in addition to its own site, assured us that another family nearby could host us instead. Katie, my traveling partner and a best friend, was game. Off we went.

THE EXPERIENCE Less than 10 minutes later, we were in front of a gorgeous home with greenery everywhere, and the host, Joseph, greeted us with fried delicacies and tea. We were handed clipboards, hairnets and Authenticook aprons and shepherded into the kitchen, where we watched Joseph’s wife, Brinda, cook curries and appams and fish fries. (If you have issues with coconut, stay away from Kerala cuisine.) As she prepared way too much food for two people, she explained her cooking process and a little about her family’s life in southern India.

ODDITY OF IT ALL About a 4. Even with the removal of the hairnets, Katie and I felt uncomfortable eating at someone’s dining table while they watched us and then returned to the kitchen to clean up. And since we used a third party (Viator) and unwittingly a fourth party (Authenticook), as well as the host himself, I was asked by all three, multiple times, to leave online reviews — Viator for the original booking with the “200-year-old historic home.”

REPEAT BUSINESS? The night was definitely a local experience. And as Kerala cuisine is delicious, I’d use either Viator or Authenticook if and when I’m back in India. Probably not both though (if I can avoid it).


THE APP I took my most expensive nap this summer, or ever, using Dayuse.com. The site and app connects travelers looking for a daytime shower, rest or just a pit stop with the unused room inventory at participating hotels and resorts. Hotel amenities are available as well.

Before a red-eye to London, I went onto the site — designed much like any other travel booking site — and chose a hotel by stars and location, booking a room from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at The Montcalm Marble Arch.

Not having to pay ahead of time was a welcome feature.

THE EXPERIENCE I arrived at 10 a.m., a time when there was a bit of a traffic jam with guests checking in and checking out, but The Montcalm had my booking. After a charge on my credit card (169 pounds, or about $214) and being offered coffee, twice, I was shown to a clean, luxurious, deadly quiet room on the first floor with blackout curtains. Perfect.

A bright hot day beckoned outside and a maid visited about restocking the minibar, but I slept soundly until my wake-up call. A reinvigorating shower (and some internal questions about the propriety of taking the single-use shampoo and other bottles) and I was out.

ODDITY OF IT ALL Zero, maybe with some sort of bonus, as the app truly helps tired travelers. But I should note here that I can be oblivious. Even when DayUse.com asked if I wanted “a little something extra?” — with the choices including a bottle of Champagne or breakfast for two — I never considered other reasons, besides red-eyes, why hotel rooms would be needed during the day.

REPEAT BUSINESS? Well, now I have to.