The best mobile apps for summer road trips
Summer offers the perfect opportunity for traveling and road trips, but in years past those getaways could come with a dark side: Getting lost, finding yourself without a place to stay or struggling to get to the next exit in time to find a bathroom.
Things are different now. Mobile apps, smartphones and tablets have changed how we travel, making it possible to find the nearest rest stop for those emergency moments, nearby food or even a hotel before you fall asleep at the wheel. Grabbing the right apps for your trip can make it go more smoothly and help you enjoy summer a lot more cheaply.
You can find a mobile app to help you with just about any road trip destination this summer, and it pays to take advantage. Some of the best and most useful are those geared toward national parks. You can find tons of information about parks in a number of apps, but one of the most useful is National Parks by National Geographic on Apple’s iOS platform. It packs maps, points of interest, photos and information about parks all across the United States.
On the road apps
While planning where you’re going to end up is important, arguably even more important to the overall enjoyment of your road trip is the actual “road” part. That is, being able to get gas, food, sleep and bathroom access when you need it. RoadNinja, on both iOS and Google’s Android platform, is a great app to handle all those needs – it provides you with information about upcoming exits while you’re on the highway, and helps keep you going with what you need.
Another handy app is Hotel Tonight on both platforms. It’s designed for last-minute hotel bookings, and you may well be able to save money as you roll up and book a room at the end of a long day’s drive.
Apps on the cheap
While some apps are free, others will cost you – and while an app, itself, might be free, it’s often that in-app purchases such as maps are where the actual costs stack up. The best way to save money on apps and purchases in the iTunes App Store or Google Play Store is to grab gift cards for both at other retailers. Amazon carries cards for various app stores, and you might try Walmart, which offers as much as 3 percent Cash Back, or Target or Best Buy , which each offers as much as 2 percent Cash Back.