Is Pokémon Go for Travelers?

a group of yellow stuffed animals on a shelf
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Pokémon Go seems to have taken the world by storm in the last few days. The Pokémon Company partnered with Niantic Labs to create a new type of game for mobile users that allows gamers to blur the line between gameplay and their ordinary lives.

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If you liked Pokémon as a kid but are scoffing that you’re an adult now, the first-of-its-kind game is also great for travelers. Did you know that creatures and rewards are found in popular places like Shinjuku station in Tokyo and the waterfront in San Francisco? The Eiffel Tower, too.

Pier 39, San Francisco
Pier 39, San Francisco

Bulletin boards are full of gamers talking about what rare creatures might be hiding in which countries in future updates, and while the game is currently only officially available in the United States, Australia and New Zealand, there are reports of users in London and Toronto, with official UK, Europe and Asia releases coming sooner than expected. No word yet on official South America or Canada releases.

Using your phone’s geolocation, the game is tied to the features around you.

Working as a “team” with your iPhone or Android, you can be walking to the deli during your lunch break or about to grab a bowl of clam chowder at Boudin Bakery on holiday when you feel your phone vibrate.

Whipping it out it shows you Charmander (one of the game characters) right across the street. You swipe a Poké Ball across the screen to catch the Pokémon, making the fantasy real.

Fun for adults, and fun for kids. Plus, getting kids that are normally glued to their phones the motivation to get outside and get moving seems a great idea.

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Jokes and laughs abound with stories that are emerge about gameplay becoming too “real” after players are reportedly walking into trees and bruising their shins by looking at their phone rather than where they are going. All in a day’s play, right?

Historic places are also points of interest in the game, encouraging a trip to the library or an old hotel, and there are humorous sites about where not to play Pokémon Go.

For parents though, a little bit of caution is encouraged. An armed robbery is already being linked with the game, and then there’s the case of the Windsor.

The New Windsor Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona was built in 1893, when the town was just booming with a new railroad. The hotel is in the National Registry of Historic Places, though it is no longer being used as a hotel. Instead, it has become a halfway house for registered sex offenders.

The New Windsor Hotel, picture from Wikipedia
The New Windsor Hotel, picture from Wikipedia

Fox10Phoenix reported that Pokémon Go users saw the hotel as a beacon on their devices, probably because it a historic place. Even though players don’t need to go into the building to get game rewards, it is a good reminder that the real world still requires common sense and that contrary to game characters, you probably only get one life.

You don’t really have to “catch ’em all”. Maybe more like “catch some when it is safe”.

Darwin Police station in Australia is also a Pokéstop, but law enforcement officials are urging gamers to stay outside since you don’t have to go in to get the rewards.

Thinking of checking out the game?
Here are links to download Pokémon Go via:


If you are outside of the US, Australia or New Zealand and still want to play, here’s a website with details on how to do it.

For all new users, here’s a beginner’s guide to the game.

Even though the game isn’t everywhere yet, it will certainly add a twist to familiar landmarks.

Are you or your kids playing Pokémon Go? Will you play it when you travel?

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  1. Yes, my son Ryan is obsessed with Pokemon, has been for years. He was on it as soon as it was released. He even “captured” (or whatever you call it) one when they got to the grocery store last week…..

    1. @baccarat_guy that’s great! I didn’t consider the possibility that it would make mundane tasks more fun (I don’t play the game myself). Those game makers were smart.

      Now if they’d just tweak it a little so kids got to capture characters after they were done with chores or whatnot it would get even more applause.

  2. Really, Shinjuku station in Tokyo when Pokemon Go hasn’t been rolled out in Japan, and the database for the Japanese servers have been taken offline even if you managed to install from a store in a country that has the app?

    1. @Left Handed Passenger, the article I linked to indicated that Shinjuku station in Tokyo was one of the Pokéstops, and I figured that even if access has temporarily been suspended we can expect to see more and more exciting locations like this as part of the game. I’d also read that the game was officially going to be rolling out to Asia and Europe any day now, so I’m sure we’ll hear more soon!

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