I truly believe that half the mishaps and mayhem that ensued in the Robin Williams’s film RV could have been simply avoided by having the proper road trip apps. But then again, one of the main charms of the movie was the lack of touch screen cellular devices. I’m completely serious. The comedic masterpiece is set in a surreal world where IM is still in fashion. Isn’t that adorable? I really shouldn’t be judging – I still own a working flip phone. Do I ever use it, though? I’m actually not going to answer that question. Anyways, today, I’m introducing you to the must have road trip apps because you never want to get lost, have a broken down car, or run into the Gornicke family. If you haven’t seen the film yet, you are just going to have to trust me.
Depending on where you are heading, you really have two main options when it comes to scouting for the best deals on gas. Waze and Gasbuddy. Overall, Waze is a more popular option. I can’t argue with the general psychology because the app is useful beyond finding Scrooge-worthy gas deals. Need to know about current traffic? Roadwork? Construction? Waze has you covered. The only problem with Waze is the user-base. Now, I love the user-base. Don’t get me wrong. Everyone is warm and considerate and quick to alert other drivers of upcoming hazards, but most of them don’t appear to willingly be passing through ghost towns. No, these drivers seem to be sticking to tried and tested routes. Unfortunately, when you’re driving through minimally populated cities that can create a bit of a predicament. Luckily, the users of Gasbuddy (another crowd sourced app) seem to have a knack for twisting the middle of nowhere into a more accessible destination.
Most phones nowadays come with a built in GPS system. Regardless, I still highly recommend downloading the Google Maps app as well because it is easy to tab back and forth between a GPS view and a list of instructions. Now, a hidden gem among map apps is MAPS.ME. MAPS.ME (in the app store as MapsWithMe) has a gorgeous simplistic user interface, but moreover, strikes gold in charting locations with the utmost detail. You can use it to find off-road sights and even cycling paths (anything, really). The best part? No Internet Connection is required. This app is completely offline. You don’t use cellular data and won’t be suppressed into paying awful roaming charges.
Last Minute has an appt title (pun intended. I apologize if you are rolling your eyes right now). It is a great tool for finding “last minute” hotel deals within the proximity of the area you are driving through. The discounts offered are reasonable and the app will serve as guide as you try to get a feel for the general prices in the area. For actual booking, the fast growing startup Hotels Tonight offers unparalleled offers. The discounts are mammoth. You can snag a luxury hotel for barely a $100. Now, if you have already booked your hotel in advance and it happens to be Marriott, be sure to download their app if you are interested in mobile check-in. You don’t have to hesitate about lines or face the annoyance perpetuated by looming crowds. The app streamlines the entire check-in process.
I happen to be the kind of person who dreams about dinner while I’m having lunch (tell me, I’m not the only one). Needless to say, finding the best on-the-go food app has always been one of my first priorities. I still believe the best way to uncover the most flavourful regional grub is to ask a localite, but if you are just driving through an area for a pit stop and still want to sample some of the provincial cuisine then TVFoodMaps is the must have app. The app aggregates restaurants featured from all your favourite food network shows, from Man vs. Food to Drivers, Diners, and Dives. I actually discovered the best chicken fried steak I’ve ever eaten in my life through this app. So yes, you should get it (the steak and the app). Now, on the deal spectrum, Groupon has long been my favourite. It’s the perfect app (albeit slightly bug-ridden) for finding great package deals. Looking for dinner for two? You can easily find 15% off at a high-end restaurant. How about a brunch cruise package? Yes, please.
Should you ever find yourself needing roadside assistance (I hope you never do), then an app like Urgent.ly is useful to have on hand. AAA is still the most popular option, but their app is more of a habitat for bugs than the Insect House at the San Diego Zoo. I’m not joking. It feels like mission impossible just to reach the splash screen most of the time (insert loud, frustrated sigh). If you are looking for a more intuitive user interface, then Honk is another option. Both Urgent.ly and Honk offer practically the same services with only a nuanced difference.
Well, you should be all set now. Have you downloaded everything you see fit for your trip? Good. Then, I wish you a safe and joyous vacation!
Have you ever used any of the aforementioned must have road trip apps? If so, tell me in the comments below! As always, I would love to hear from you.