Taking pictures and video is a huge part of travel, and as our camera technology matures our options become ever more difficult to sift through. Most of us are probably using Instagram — I know I am — but there are actually a bunch of apps out there that offer a chance to be even more creative.

I’ve tested out quite a few of these apps as both a private traveler and as a professional journalist. Here are my must haves:

1. Vine

It won’t come as a surprise to regular readers that I’m partial to Vine. The app lets you post six second videos that loop endlessly. I regularly use this app as both a professional tool on news stories, as well as to document my travels. One of the advantages of Vine is that the videos auto play, without sound, when embedded on blogs or posted on Twitter. (Instagram videos, on the other hand, require viewers to press play, and don’t display natively on Twitter).

The constraint of six seconds also prompts incredible creativity from some Viners:

2. Periscope

Periscope is a brand new app that’s taking the social media world by storm. The app lets you live stream video from your phone, while viewers type messages and tap the screen to give you hearts. It’s surprisingly addictive.

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 12.22.18 AMIt’s also becoming a new, and curiously intimate, way to connect with people around the world. I’ve had “conversations” with people in Australia, Europe, and Japan — me writing messages, them speaking responses — using Periscope.

I also used Periscope while visiting Bombay Beach, while walking around in downtown Salt Lake City, and elsewhere. The number of viewers has ranged from a handful to over a thousand (which happened when I was streaming in Los Angeles), so the potential audience can be quite large.

Periscope is very new, so exactly what it’ll become and how it’ll be used is yet to be seen. But even at this early stage it’s an exciting tool for sharing the experience of travel.

3. Hyperlapse

Hyperlapse is made by Instagram and is probably the most widely-used of these apps. It’s name is pretty self explanatory: it allows you to shoot video, then speed it up from between two and 12 times. Some phones have time lapse features built in, but I like Hyperlapse because it offers more control. For example, using Hyperlapse to shoot the video below in Salt Lake City, I was able to play with the speed until I got it just the way I wanted it.

4. InstaVideo

InstaVideo is a simple and free app for putting background music into videos. I’d recommend using this tool sparingly because often the natural sounds of a place are far more evocative than pre-recorded music. However, sometimes you don’t have natural sound — for example, in videos created using Hyperlapse — so music can be a nice addition.

Over the last few days, I’ve tried a bunch of free apps that let you add music to video. They all have pros and cons, but I liked InstaVideo the most because it shows you the audio waveform for the song or audio file you’re using — meaning you can be more precise with your timing. The app has been a little glitchy for me, but I was able to overcome that simply by closing it and then reopening.

Using it is simple: you chose a video from your phone’s camera roll, a song from your phone’s music library, and then tell it to merge the two. The final product is saved as a new video, which can be uploaded to Instagram, Vine, Facebook, or whatever. I used InstaVideo (along with Hyperlapse) to make this video:

Driving around LA

A post shared by Jim Dalrymple II (@jimdalrympleii) on

If you have another great video app that you’re using, let us know and we’ll give it a try.

— Jim Dalrymple II


Written by Jim Dalrymple II

Urbanism and travel writer. Also a journalist covering the news.

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