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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21 Comments (1 pingbacks)

  1. Awesome! Congrats to you both! I’m currently working on my first iOS app now, and it’s somewhat comforting to know that I’m not the only one struggling with the “it’s not perfect yet” issues. I’m guessing you took the same course I did — CS193P? Anyway, even though I’m not currently traveling, I plan to buy it, first to support you guys, and secondly, so I can use it when I finally get back on the road! Good luck!


  2. I’m super stoked for you guys! And I agree with you, there’s no end to the tweaks and changes that can be made, but at the end of the day, getting version 1 out through the door is crucial! Your icon is great & the colors & design are clean and really well done. Looking forward to seeing it in the store! :)


  3. Congratulations! And, I definitely agree with the wise words of Guy Kawasaki. In fact, waiting too long to perfect my ideas and work is a problem I constantly face myself so I can relate to your struggles, Simon. Now, having said that, here is an idea for a future version if you haven’t already included it. How about the ability to easily export info (e.g., tables, graphs) so they can be incorporated in a blog? I’m sure a lot of folks would like to write about their expenses on the road and your app could help them do that. I would even put in an attribution/link so that any time someone used it on their blog you would have promoted your product.

    Another idea is to offer a free and paid version. Perhaps the free version would only support one currency and/or limited or no graphs. Something to get people to download it and try it without risk but then realize the paid version is definitely worth an upgrade.


    • Thanks very much Jeff—glad to know we’re not the only ones who struggle with that. Thanks for your ideas and we’ll definitely keep them in mind, and may well experiment with the pricing strategy once we see how this one goes.


    • If we become successful app developers then he will :) He has a web development background but learnt to create iOS apps from doing the Stanford course in iTunes University (no sure it’s there any more though). That and trial and error.


  4. So excited about this App! I have been looking for something like this since the App Store opened and no one has done it correctly.

    I use a similar app currently, but it does not convert currencies so each time we change countries, we have to do a mind boggling (to us) balance adjustment that we are always afraid we are doing wrong. On top of that, the app is only helpful by month, but useless by the year because one month we will be in Korea and spend millions (of Korean Won 1,200 = $1) and the next month we will be in the states and spend thousands, so our budget looks crazy – March – $2,345,030, April – $2,343, etc.

    Anyways, thanks so much for taking the time to make such a needed and awesome app and for spending time to make it beautiful as well! Can’t wait to buy it. Keep up the great work!


    • Thanks so much for your support Griffin. That’s exactly why we created the app – because we couldn’t find another app that was quick and easy to use and supported multiple currencies. I hope it provides a good solution for you.


  5. Great idea! And as my dad always told me, “ideas are cheap” :) it’s taking it to the ‘ship’ stage that is a whole other story! I’ve launched businesses and products I still continue to underestimate how long it takes to create/launch and I can soooo appreciate the work that went on behind the scenes for you guys. Congrats!


    • Very true! We often have people wanting to work with us because they have a great idea for an app, but the idea isn’t the hard part!

      Glad we aren’t the only ones who underestimate how long products take. I’m hoping we’ll get better at it over time but I think it’s something everyone struggles with.


  6. Congratulation Simon… I can imagine how hard can be and how much work you have put into this. I wish to sell lot of these app. I will buy one for sure :)


  7. What a great idea guys, and congrats on the impending launch! I can only imagine the hardwork that has gone into getting the product to this stage, but I think you were right to just pull the trigger and launch it. These days, it seems that nothing is ever 100% completed, and apps on the iStore are always being updated and improved after going live.

    As for tracking money on the road, we too do this fastidiously… though I admit to being very low-tech about: just a cheap pen & pocketsize notebook for us! We don’t have an iPhone so most of these apps pass us by, but if we did have the technology, this is the kind of thing that would be right up our alley!


    • Thank you Steph! It has been a lot of work but it’s so satisfying to have finally (well almost) finished something that we think will be really useful to people.


  8. Oh wow… I love this! If I travelled with an iPhone or iTouch I would definitely use it. At the moment I track everything I spend every day with those same categories except bribes… don’t have that. If & when I get one I’ll be sure to download the app cus I know it would help me tons. Oh & you know what would be cool if you can enter your own category? Like if I wanted to keep track of how much I spent on BEER for the duration of my trip. Now that I’m nearing the end of my RTW for some reason I wonder how much I spent on BEER. I know it’s random but a thought jaja. I wish y’all the best & hope it gets approved.


    • Thanks Jaime. We’ll be adding the ability to create your own categories in the next version. I think alcohol would be an interesting one for lots of people! We rarely drink but when we do I put it in Entertainment :)

      Shame you don’t have an iPhone or iPod as it’s so much easier to keep track of your expenses when you do.


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