Updated July 19, 2020. Forget those bulky paper maps that can’t be refolded. Road trip apps are here!
Growing up, I remember my mother, finger on a big map, directing my dad as they attempted to get to a new place. Twenty years later, it was my turn to be navigator. Conversations weren’t always pleasant when a turn was missed. Or that time I got east and west mixed up…but didn’t realize it for fifty miles. How I would have loved a good road trip app. Or two.
I’m sure many relationships are being saved these days because of road trip apps. And many solo travelers are driving with confidence, because they’re not going to end up like some stranded character in a horror movie plot.
Road trip apps are abundant and most are easy to use. All you need is a smartphone (or tablet) and a little patience to try them out. Here are some of the best, for iOS and Androids:
Roadtrippers: Just like its name, Roadtrippers is designed for auto travel in the U.S. and Canada. Forget Google Maps–enter your destination, and Roadtrippers gets you there, pointing out gas stations, diners, hotels, historic places, scenic viewpoints, even a fun category called “weird stuff.” You can plan and save your trip before leaving home, as well as send the itinerary to others. Free!
Tripit: Pretty amazing, Tripit organizes all your reservations into a timeline, complete with details. You make the flight, auto, hotel, and restaurant reservations, then forward them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tripit puts them into a master itinerary. Voila! And, it’s free!
Waze: One of the most interesting road trip apps, Waze is a free “community-based” GPS navigation system. Users open Waze on their devices and information such as drive times, accidents, police, and traffic delays are constantly updated. Waze will automatically redirect you to save time and frustration. It can even tell you where the cheapest gas is!
iExit: We’ve all been there. Ready to stop for gas and food, but wishing we could find something–anything–besides McD’s or Subway. Good news: iExit lists the upcoming exits, along with gas, food, and hotel options. It works nationwide near any interstate. It also partners with GasBuddy to give you the best fuel prices.
Flush Toilet Finder: Yep, this app is a godsend. Just open it and Flush Toilet Finder uses your location to show you where to find a toilet. Designed by a clever Brit, it has over 100,000 loos around the world. It also tells you if there is handicapped access, a fee, and other bits of useful information. Reminder: You can’t always flush the toilet paper!
Hotel Tonight: Whether you’re a free spirit who doesn’t believe in reservations, or a button-downed itinerary fanatic, at some point you’ll need to locate a hotel quickly. Stuff happens: weather, illness, fatigue, or just a whimsical detour. Hotel Tonight not only locates nearby hotels, it gives you last-minute deals in cities around the world. Reserve up to 7 days in advance with a few swipes and taps on your device.
Road trips should always be fun. Thanks to these apps, your travel just got easier, too. All you have to do is decide between playing “I Spy” and singing “99 Bottles of Beer”…
More tips and inspiration: