If you’re going to make a distant journey or just want to document a city trip, the Polarsteps service is extremely handy. You can add photos and travel stories via the app, your friends and family can follow you and when you are back home, make a nice photo book of your trip.
Tip 01: Sign up
Download the Polarsteps app for Android or iOS from the corresponding app store. Registration is via Facbook or your email address. Tap Okay, got it! and you will be directed to the main page. Polarsteps wants you to design your profile and possibly set up a profile picture, but you can also do this later. You can do two things with Polarsteps: make public travel stories and share them with the world or make a private travel report for family and friends. In the latter case, turn on the slider behind Private account. Give the app access to your camera, photos and location because you can get the most out of Polarsteps. At step three, the app wants to know your home location, you can skip this option. When you have finished the configuration, tap Show me the magic! Although the app is made in Dutch, Polarsteps only speaks English with you.
Tip 02: Editing profile
The next step is to fill in your profile information and change a few settings. To add a profile picture, tap the icon above your name. Choose a photo from your photo roll or take a photo. Your profile picture is always publicly available. Then tap the sprocket at the top left corner and choose My profile. Besides your name and home location, you can also write a short story about yourself here. When you’re done, tap Done. Now go to Account settings. Here you can choose your unique Polarsteps-url. The app has automatically selected your first and last name as the profile name. At Smart Notifications you indicate whether you want to receive notifications from Polarsteps and which ones exactly. If you add a trip far in advance, it is useful to turn on the slider behind Trip brake cylinders. You may be notified by the app that you need to turn on Smart Notifications on your system. Tap Turn smart notifications on and confirm the action in Android or iOS. Now you will receive a notification on the day you have indicated that your journey starts. It’s also great to turn on the slider behind New likes: this way you know when someone loved a travel message. Under App Settings you can specify some preferences. Behind Distance Units select Kilometres and behind Temperature select your Celsius. If you don’t have a data bundle abroad, make sure that the slider behind Sync images is turned off over 3/4G. Close the settings by tapping the cross.
Polarsteps ensures that the app is as small as possible and uses as little battery and data as possible. Original versions of photos will be uploaded to the Polarsteps servers as soon as you have a wifi connection. Once a photo has been uploaded, the original version of the photo is removed from the app so you have more free disk space on your smartphone.
Tip 03: Add your trip
You can now add your first trip to your profile. It is best to do this before you travel. Tap the plus button on the top right and a new trip is created. Polarsteps calls a trip a trip by the way. First you give your trip a name, this can be something like Japan 2018, Kitzbühel with the family or Stedentrip March. At Start date you indicate a start date, at End date you indicate an end date. If you don’t know when your journey ends, tap I don’t know yet. It is useful to leave the slider behind Enable Travel Tracker on. For example, the app tracks your location while you’re traveling during this trip. Polarsteps does not always need an internet connection for this purpose, however, it has developed a smart system in which it combines your GPS data with your location data as soon as you connect to the Internet. Finally, you indicate who is allowed to see your trip. By default, this is set to My followers. This is the most convenient option. Only people who follow you and people who sent you a secret link can see your trip. Tap Done and your trip will appear on the main screen. If your starting date is in the past and your end date in the future, you will see a red badge on your journey with the text Now traveling. To add another trip, tap Apply Add A, current or future trip. You can also add a trip you have made in the past. If you want to delete a trip, tap Options / Trip settings on the top right and press the trash bin at the bottom.
Tip 04: Add step
Each trip consists of several steps called steps. A step can be one or more photos, a travel report or a combination of both. Tap your journey and scroll down until you see a large red plus button; your current location will automatically appear when your trip is currently taking place. Tap the button to add a step. Under Step name, Polarsteps will automatically indicate the name of the city where you are located, but if you want to change the name of the step (for example, in the name of a neighborhood or city nearby), then tap and change it. If you want to add a step to a journey in the past, the button is green and tap Add your first step. Now the app wants you to indicate a location for your first step. Under Arrival date and Arrival time you choose an arrival date and time. Tap the photo icon to add one or more photos and under What have you been up to? You can type a travel report. You may change the name of your step under Step name. Tap Done and the step will be added to your trip. Your first photo will now automatically become the background picture of your trip and if you scroll through your steps, a green pop-up bar will appear at the top. As soon as you continue your journey, the puppet goes to the right. If you want to add a next step, tap the plus for Traveled for a bit and add another step. Between each step you will find this option. If you want to edit a step, tap the pencil under a step. As soon as you’ve added more steps, you can change the cover picture of your trip. To do this, tap Options / Trip settings and tap Change trip cover next to the photo.
Tip 05: View on map
A fun feature of Polarsteps is that you can view your entire journey on a map. If you’ve added a few steps to your journey, you can tap Show on Folder under a step. The step is shown on the map with a pop-up; your other steps can also be seen with balls and small versions of the photos that belong to the step. You can follow your route precisely and zoom in and out of your journey with pinch movements. Tap the icon in the upper left corner to return to your journey. At the top you will find general information about your trip. You can see how many miles you have travelled. Unfortunately this is a general number and also contains all your flights. You can see how many countries you have visited, how many people have seen your journey and how many likes you have received.
Tip 06: Share travel or step sharing
To share your trip with others, navigate all the way down and choose one of the options: Facebook, email, Instagram, WhatsApp or via a secret link. Tap one of these options and the part window will be displayed. A unique link is created and you can copy it to your clipboard by tapping Share this link. You can send family and friends this link; even without a Polarstaps account, people can see your trip. This can simply be done in a web browser. You can also share a step with others if you want to inform them about a new event, for example. Under a step, tap the share icon. If a step contains multiple photos, you can swipe left or right over the photo to select another photo. Tap the Facebook or Instagram icon or select the option Other ways to share.
Tip 07: Making a photo book
The nice thing about Polar steps is that you can make a photo book of your complete journey after your trip. To do so, tap Options / Create Travel Book. You can do this from the app, but it may be more convenient to do this from a computer. Just log in to your PC with your Polar steps account details. Go to Travel Books, select your trip and press the Preview & Order button. In the app, this button is called Preview your travel book. The service now automatically generates a photo book of your trip. You can follow your journey precisely, because not only are your photos shown: information about the locations where you have been, you can also see in your photo book. Nice is that you can also see how the weather was that day. The information gets Polar steps from the internet.
Tip 08: Editing a photo book
If you want more control over what is and is not in your photo book, you can click the Edit Travel Book button. Here you see two options: Photos and Options. Photos allows you to turn sliders behind certain photos on or off. Only the photos you have selected will enter your photo book in this way. It’s handy that you can immediately see how many pages your book will have. At Options you can indicate a few things. Of course you can change the title of the book behind Book title, by default this is the name of your trip. Book author has your account name, but if you’ve been on the move with your partner, you may change it into something else. Polarsteps currently offers only one theme, but you can change the colours. This is done behind Theme color. You can choose from turquoise, dark blue, cyan and black. With Photo grid you can choose whether you would prefer to see more photos per page or whether you prefer mainly large photos. If you tick the check mark behind Show step text off, your travel reports will not be included in the book. All in all, you don’t have many options to change your book, but this is actually useful. This way you don’t spend hours working on a photo book and you can have your photo book printed in a few minutes after your trip.
Tip 09: Order photo book
When you have finished editing your book, click on Re-Generate Travel Book. If you are satisfied with what your book looks like now, click Proceed to checkout. You will now see that you need at least 24 pages in your book. If you have more than 24 pages, you’ll see an overview of what your book will cost. As soon as your book contains between 25 and 50 pages, it costs forty euros. Shipping is free and in many cases Polarsteps gives you a ten euro discount on your order. It is also useful to know that the company uses the same price for a book with 25 pages as a book with 50 pages. Here you can see exactly what the prices are. The book is printed on 200 grams of glossy photo paper and is in A4 format with hardcover. Payment can be made in a variety of ways, including via iDEAL, credit card or PayPal.
Polarsteps is not only fun for making your own travel reports, you can also view other public travel reports and follow users. In the app, tap the globe to view travel selected by Polarsteps. You can enjoy steps out of a journey by tapping the heart. If you want to follow a user, tap the user’s name at the top and choose Follow. If you are looking for a specific user, tap the magnifying glass and enter its name.