By Sky Fisher
A road trip can be one of the most fun and adventurous modes of travel; however, what is not fun is getting lost, running out of gas or listening to the same song 50 times. This list of must-have apps for road trips — all free on iOS and Android — helps you avoid all of the situations and find cool things to do on the way to your destination.
1. GasBuddy. If you’re heading out on a road trip, GasBuddy should be your new BFF. Gas is usually one of the biggest expenses of any road trip and GasBuddy is the best app to help you save money. It finds the cheapest places to fill up your tank and where the nearest gas station is for those times you’re almost on empty. My favorite feature, though, is the “Trip Cost Calculator” which offers a semi-reliable estimate of how much a trip will cost.
2. Offline Google Maps. Google Maps is a go-to map app for most as it’s typically already installed on devices. The regular version is fantastic — as long as you stay within cell service and are comfortable using up data. For times when you know you’ll be without cell service or don’t want to constantly use data, though, you can download maps ahead of time for use offline.
3. Spotify. The most annoying thing about spending any significant amount of time in a car? Trying to find a radio station that comes in clearly for more than ten minutes…and hearing the same song 15 times because you have to keep switching stations and every one is playing the same 5 songs. The solution? Spotify. Spotify allows you to create custom playlists with all of your favorites or listen to playlists they’ve already curated for virtually every mood and situation under the sun. Basic Spotify does require cell service and uses data so I recommend upgrading to Spotify Premium. For around $10 a month, you receive additional mobile features and can download playlists to your phone so you can listen for hours without using up all your data or in regions where cell service is less than stellar.
4. HotelTonight. Last-minute hotel booking apps like HotelTonight can save you a bundle if you’re flexible. They basically take unsold hotels up to a week out and offer them at a discounted rate. The closer to the stay date the better deals you’ll find. HotelTonight is especially awesome for road trippers, as with one click the app uses their location to pull up a real-time map of what’s nearby with prices. Bonus Discount: Use referral code “JFESTA4” when using HotelTonight and save $25!
5. Roadtrippers. If you go on road trips, Roadtrippers simplifies the process by a million — and makes it fun. Choose “Plan A Trip” and enter in your starting and ending points to be brought to an interactive map. From there, click the interest icons representing attractions, restaurants and outdoor fun (among other choices) to be shown options along the way. All of these will show up as waypoints on the map. Click the waypoint to learn more about the site, with the option to “Add To Trip.” Once your map is complete, you can share it with your friends.
Even if you’re not going on a road trip, you can “Explore The Map” by typing in your destination, choosing your area of interest and having cool experiences around town shown for you to plot on the map.
RoadTrippers is THE app for a US-based roadtrip. The app helps you plan your route by showing everything from hotels and camping to restaurants and bars; however, the best part of the app is all of the offbeat attractions listed, ranging from categories like “Weird Places” to “Natural Wonders”. This is perfect for long days of driving when you want to see something cool without going off course or to create a unique road trip based on all the wacky attractions they find (and there are a LOT of them in the US!).
6. Waze. Though Waze was originally intended as a way to improve daily driving, it’s also a life (time) saver on the road. Waze allows you to see real time traffic updates more than any other app because they allow other users to add updates. Beyond finding a route around the traffic backed up for miles, Waze can also alert you to a police car sitting up ahead or a recent accident. It’s a great tool for avoiding traffic, construction, and getting to your destination via the quickest route possible based on real time conditions.
What are your favorite apps for road trips? Please share in the comments below!
How To Plan A Trip Without Making Plans [Blog Inspiration]
Road Trip USA: Cross-Country Adventures on America’s Two-Lane Highways by Jamie Jensen [Great Reads]
Fox 40 Sonik Blast Safety Whistle [Travel Safety]