Times have changed, my friends. Road trips used to be the standard means of travel here in the United States but more and more people are turning to flying to get from point A to point B. To an unexpectedly large group of people, road trips are a novelty thing – another vintage adventure such as camping. To others, it’s a more cost effective means of travel and even a luxury!
Though I can’t disagree with those who deem flying a luxury (I fly from time-to-time,too)…to the rest of us, road trips are our primary means of travel and we wouldn’t have it any other way! Though road trips are “old fashioned”, modern day technology has done its best to slingshot this timeless means of travel to 2015 and beyond! Mobile GPS units were a fantastic catalyst in the evolution of traveling technology. No more having to read maps while driving (dangerous!) or pulling over to ask for directions GPS’ helped travelers to become self-sufficient.
As the GPS and other pieces of technology evolved – namely the cell phone – so did the practical applications! Once smartphones took off, it didn’t take long for software developers to start building apps to make things easier for the every day traveler. Personally, I am an App junkie. If I have a need for it, I find the app for it. Traveling is no exception. In fact, it’s one of my priorities to have all the apps I need to make my traveling adventures seamless and enjoyable. Below, I’ve listed my top 8 favorites.
1. Waze – This is a navigation app for both Android and Apple iOS. It has excellent navigation functions with added amenities such as alerting drivers of road hazards and traffic. You can easily reroute around traffic and this app encourages having a driving buddy to do the typing. It auto-disables typing if you’re the driver! Kudos! And they make it fun by adding in points to collect and various levels of traveler that open up new “vehicles” and “moods” you can choose from.
2. Trip Advisor – Obviously I like reviewing things and reading reviews and Trip Advisor is one of my primary means of a) letting people know my experiences around town and b) learning from other people about their experiences with certain hotels and attractions in any given location. TA has also added in a point system to rank members by how many reviews and such they’ve done for the site. Also fun! I already review a ton on there and it’s cool to get rewarded for it… Now if only they’d pay me!
3. Yelp – Another great app to find places close to you. There is a variety of search options and you can see menu’s, contact information, and hours for a majority of businesses on their site. People are brutally honest behind the computer screen, so you’ll get a lot of the truth on Yelp. As always though, take their reviews with a grain of salt.
4. Road Ninja – This is practically a must-have for roadtrippers. This app lets you know what’s coming up at each exit along the interstate. You can search for specific food types, compare gas prices, and look for promotional deals for businesses! Seriously, who ever thought of this is a genius. You’ll never have to wander around looking for a MickeyD’s ever again. (This app was discontinued…and I’m super sad about it).
5. PackPoint – Another genius app that someone thankfully developed. When you open the app it asks if you are male or female, then it takes you to another screen that you enter in where, when, and for how long you’re going to be in a particular location. Once you’ve done that you add in what types of activities you’re going to be doing. Click done and it develops a complete and interactive packing list specifically made for the location and climate you are traveling to! AMAZING. I’m in love with this app. Don’t tell my fiance!
6. Gas Buddy – This is another great app for researching and comparing gas prices. This app is better for in-town travel. For instance, if I’m in Myrtle Beach and I’m looking for a good gas price vs. if I’m driving and needing a good gas price (of which I’d use Road Ninja). With Gas Buddy you can even estimate the cost of gas for a whole trip – which is super great for budgeting your vacation!
7. Free Wifi Finder – No one wants to use all of their phones data plan in one vacation… Make it easier on yourself and search for places and business that offer free Wifi such as McDonalds, Starbucks, and Panera. This app offers a quick solution to do a simple search in your area for such locations. It may seem a little counterproductive to use cellular data to find Wifi but hey… nothing in the world is truly free, right? Well, except this app!
8. RoadTrippers – This app is like the Road Ninja App for attractions nearby. You can do the planning before you drive off on your adventure or you can plan as you go with their nearby attractions feature! You can look at things in both map and list views, save favorites for later, and read reviews on selected places. All very nifty while on the road!
**Bonus App:** Uber! A ridesharing app is always good to have on hand. I prefer Uber because my Fiance drives for them… but even before he began working for them, we used their services. We are firm believers in NEVER drinking and driving and to have a utility like Uber helps us stay true to that when we have no other means of getting home safely and legally. Cabs can take forever but Uber drivers are always right around the corner.