As much as I love it, as much am I trying to optimize the process though – I can spend hours comparing flight prices, trying to find the best hotel deal and researching all the things that there are to do in one place. I know that I invest much more time than most people do, but if you are like me and want to make sure everything is planned right down to the last detail, you know how time-intense travel planning can be, especially when you’re putting together a multi-city trip. Time that I, quite frankly, not always have – hence my ongoing quest to optimize my travel planning skills and find the best resources.
I have an array of travel apps on my iPhone that I use to plan – from Hostelbookers to Skyscanner and most recently – Musement. Musement filled the gap in the travel app space for an app that gives me an overview of all the tours, museums, heritage sights and other attractions that there are in a city, and the best thing: it allows me to book them straight away. That way, I don’t have to go on each and every tour operator’s or attraction’s website anymore, but can book all the sights I want to visit through one single app – or website.
Trying to maximize my time always as much as possible, I did some research for my upcoming trip to Niagara Falls while I was on the subway the other day. I looked up some hotels, researched a few restaurants I’d like to try, and of course what kind of activities I can do while I’m there – and thanks to Musement, I came across the Skylon Tower which has some of the best views over the Falls. I booked it right on the spot on while riding the subway!
While you can use the app to book tickets to world-class attractions such as the Louvre, the Sistine Chapel in Rome or Buckingham Palace in London, Musement also offers the option to book VIP visits of said attractions – for example, a skip-the-line Colosseum tour, or a skip-the-line Vatican Museum Tour with St Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel.
These kind of tours are especially great for those who only have a day or two in a city, or when visiting museums like the Vatican Museum which can feel overwhelming due to their sheer size. If you’re on a Mediterranean Cruise for example and you only have about 8 hours to explore in Rome, you just don’t have 2 hours to spare to wait in line at the Vatican Museum. You also don’t have the time to explore them in details – which is when a ‘semi-private highlights tour’ with a small group comes in handy.
When I came across a skip-the-line tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that includes a guide who points out the most important pieces plus access to the rooftop terrace, I signed up for it right away. That way, I’d get an overview of the museum and some background information by someone who has solid knowledge of the museum, and would be able to explore the parts of it that interest me the most later on by myself.
And while I knew about the rooftop terrace of the Met prior to the tour, I am not sure that I would have found the small and unassuming entrance to the staircase up to the roof without our guide, since it is quite hidden. The views from the rooftop alone make the Met worth a visit – no place has vistas over Central Park and the Midtown skyscrapers like the Met has. But it was also the perfect place to unwind after taking in so much art for hours.
Another thing I love about the app is that it doesn’t only show you the established sights in a city, but also current, temporary exhibitions. When I browsed through the Rome tours and attractions for example, I found two temporary art exhibitions I’d book in a heartbeat if I were to go to Rome now, but I might have missed them had I not found out about them through the Musement app: an Andy Warhol and a Frida Kahlo exhibition!
As for the ‘standard’ sights and attractions, I also found some gems that exceed the usual hop-on hop-off bus tours, famous monuments and museums – for example a Culinary Experience in Paris, or a Live Music Tour through Berlin. Musement is definitely trying to include a wide variety of tour operators and attractions.
If you are still in the planning stages of your trip and don’t want to commit to a specific tour yet, you can also add several tours to your wish list and then decide which one(s) you’ll take once you’ve decided which attractions / tours you really want to experience.
If you don’t want to use the app to make a booking, you can also browse and book sights and attractions via the Musement website. Both, website and app, have an extremely user-friendly surface and are easy to navigate.
Room for improvement
Of course there’s always room for improvement, and Musement being a brand new app, I am sure it will grow and improve continually over the coming months.
My first suggestion would be to make it easier to search geographically. When I plan a trip through Europe for example and look up tours in Germany, I’d like to see all available cities come up and then select the one(s) I am interested in. Instead, every tour available in the country is listed. Of course you can also search by city, for example typing in ‘Munich’ instead of ‘Germany’, but to get a general overview of all available cities I’d prefer a city listing. It’s easier to use the app when browsing the various cities on the website.
My second suggestion would be adding more currencies – at the moment, they only show prices in Euros, but I’d prefer seeing US Dollars and I am sure Brits would prefer seeing British Pounds.
The number of available tours, museums and attractions varies drastically in each place – while there’s only one attraction available for Chicago, there are nearly 70 tours / sights I can book for Venice. As I said though, it’s still a new app and I am sure that over time the number of attractions in each place will grow considerably.