Our Upcoming Travel Budget App and the Importance of Shipping

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We’ve done it. We’ve finally finished a product!

In over 1000 days as digital nomads it’s something we’ve wanted to do. We came close earlier in the year but ultimately realised that idea wasn’t the right path for us. We released our free South America Highlights ebook that thousands of you have downloaded and we’ve had great feedback on, but somehow creating something and asking for money for it is a lot harder.

Still, we’re almost there. On Monday we submitted our travel budget appTrail Wallet to the Apple App Store. Now we’re just waiting for it to be approved and if all goes to plan it’ll be available on your iPhones next week. We are at the mercy of the App Store though so who knows what will happen. But finishing something and submitting it—that was a big step for us.

The Long and Winding Road

We’ve known for a long time that we want to move away from our web design and development client work and start creating our own products. We want to stop trading time for money and create a more scalable business. 2012 was supposed to be the year that we did that but turning down people wanting to give you money now, for potential earnings in the future, is not easy. We have turned down many clients this year, although often I have to force Simon to say no. But some projects have been too lucrative or too interesting for Simon to say no to, and ultimately, when people ask for his help he wants to do so. Which is why it’s taken to the end of the year for us to get to this point.

That, and the fact that creating something isn’t easy.

I say “our app” but really it’s all Simon. I’ve been involved in planning, testing and marketing but it’s Simon who taught himself to develop for iOS (taking an online Stanford course no less) and has spent hundreds of hours coding and designing. He’s had many problems to solve along the way but that’s what he does—he’s a master problem solver and, like a dog with a bone, won’t stop until he’s fixed something. His razor sharp focus can be annoying at times as he can’t think about anything else, but it does make him very good at what he does.

Simon working in the pool in Koh Lanta, Thailand

You know our life isn’t really like this, right?

The Important of Shipping

We’ve submitted the app but Simon doesn’t think it’s finished.

I’m not sure he ever will.

He has grand visions for what it could be. If he could spend a few more months on the design he could create something beautiful that would stand out in the crowded app market. A few more months and he could implement all the suggestions from our beta testers and add lots more helpful features.

But there’s always more to be done and there comes a point when you’ve just got to ship.

We asked our friend, business genius Warren for advice: should we send off the app now or wait until it was what we wanted it to be? His advice:

Ship. Ship. Ship.

Some of the best advice I ever heard was from Guy Kawasaki (he was an early Apple employee and evangelist). He said:

“Don’t worry, be crappy. An innovator doesn’t worry about shipping an innovative product with elements of crappiness if it’s truly innovative. The first permutation of a innovation is seldom perfect–Macintosh, for example, didn’t have software (thanks to me), a hard disk (it wouldn’t matter with no software anyway), slots, and color. If a company waits–for example, the engineers convince management to add more features–until everything is perfect, it will never ship, and the market will pass it by.”

So we shipped.

As soon as Trail Wallet hits the App Store Simon will be working on improving it for the next version, but we can’t wait until it’s perfect or it may never be finished.

Trail Wallet: Less Tracking, More Travelling

So what can you expect from Trail Wallet?

The chart screen of Trail WalletIt’s an iPhone app that helps you track your travel expenses easily and quickly while you are out and about. We’ve always talked about the importance of knowing how much you are spending on your travels. It takes the stress out of things and allows for more fun opportunities—if you know how much you’ve spent you’ll know if you can afford that bungy jump or scuba dive.

We track every item we spend and report back to you in our travel budgets so you know what costs to expect from a destination. Before we created Trail Wallet we had to remember what we’d spent throughout the day—rummaging through our pockets for receipts or trying to remember what lunch had cost. Trail Wallet was designed initially for us so we could quickly enter the amount on our iPod Touch (or now our new iPhone 5) and get on with enjoying our day.

There are plenty of budgeting apps on the market but we’ve designed ours to be really quick to use and to offer support for multiple currencies. You can set a daily budget in your home currency but enter purchases in your local currency, wherever you happen to be. The app updates the exchange rate for you with the latest rate.

Trail Wallet tells you if you are over or under budget and you can see which categories are eating up your money the most so you know where to cut back.

Head over to our Voyage Travel Apps website for more information about Trail Wallet and to sign up to the newsletter for updates and special offers. You can also find Voyage Travel Apps on Facebook and Twitter.

Update: Trail Wallet is now available in the Apple App Store!

Are you planning your next travel adventure? See our Travel Resources page for our favourite tools and gear to help you plan the perfect trip. 

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