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Get These Apps Before Your Next Road Trip

by on April 23, 2021
in Tips & How-Tos, Travel & Entertainment, Car Tech & Safety, Travel, Mobile Apps, Android Apps, iPhone/iPad Apps :: 29 comments

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Thinking about taking a road trip? Be sure to load up on our picks for the best road trip apps. Whether you're out of gas, looking for something to see along the way or want to steer clear of speed traps or traffic, there's an app to help.

And, of course, remember to stay safe—don't try to use your phone while you're driving, no matter how handy the app.

Where to stop for the basics

iExit app

Looking for a bite to eat? A restroom? WiFi? Something to see along the way? There are apps to help with all of these situations.

If you're traveling on a major highway, iExit (Free in App Store and Google Play) is a great resource for amenities available at upcoming exits. There's information on restaurants, gas stations grocery stores, hospitals, hotels and more. Once the app finds you on a highway, it will show you the upcoming exits along with icons to represents amenities and how away each exit is. Then for each service, you can see just how far you'll to travel off your route—much better than those icons on the highway signs. If you're planning a trip, you can select a highway to plan out your stops. 

Gas Buddy

If you're looking for gas, also open up Gas Buddy (Free in App Store and Google Play) to compare gas prices.  The prices are crowdsourced, so less-frequented areas may not have up-to-date information. You'll know, though, because you'll able to see when the prices were posted.

WeeWeeFree app

If it's a bathroom you're after, try WeeWeeFree (Free in App Store and Google Play). WeeWeeFree has restroom ratings and you can search by features, like baby station, family restroom, gender neutral, and special needs. Shy about using a multi-stall bathroom? WeeWeeFree Symphony are sounds to cover up any sounds you may make. 

Traffic, road hazards and speed traps

Waze app

Waze

No one likes getting stuck in traffic or getting a ticket, so use an app to get alerted before you get stuck. No one likes getting stuck in traffic or getting a ticket, so use an app to get alerted before you get stuck. For a free traffic option, our pick is Google Maps (Free on App Store, preloaded on Android devices). Not only does it show you the quickest route when you start out, but it will also alert you when a faster route becomes available.

If you typically use a radar detector, you'll appreciate Waze (Free on App Store and Google Play). This traffic app uses crowdsourced data to find a faster route for your commute, but the alerts provided by other users include speed traps and red light cameras as well. With a large user base, this app is as good as real-time traffic reporting gets.

TollGuru app

If you're concerned about tolls and gas adding up, check out TollGuru (Free on App Store and Google Play). You can calculate tolls and gas together for a wide range of vehicles, including cars, motorcycles, RVs and SUVs towing a trailer, among others. Input your car make and model year and expected gas price for the best accuracy. You can plan routes in the U.S. and Canada. 

Sightseeing

Roadtrippers app

Roadtrippers

Don't want to miss any sightseeing gems on your trip? Enter your starting point and your destination and the Roadtrippers app (Free in App Store and Google Play) will find you interesting places to stop in between. Pick from categories such as amusement parks, adventure sports, historical markers and hiking, and you'll see places pop up along your driving route. You can read up on each attraction and choose to add it to your trip or your "Bucket List." The free version of the app only lets you add 5 stops. Upgrading to Roadtrippers Plus ($29.99 per year), lets you store up to 150 waypoints on your route, see traffic and view maps offline. And, you won't see any ads. 

Atlas Obscura may not have an app, but the website will help you find fun and more obscure attractions. You can search by type of attraction or your location. For instance, there are a lot of famous attractions near my office, but Atlas Obscura picked out the Graffiti Hall of Fame. 

Where to stay

Trip Advisor

Trip Advisor

If you don't like to be locked into staying in a particular hotel or town as you travel, you can book your room while you're on the road. Trip Advisor (Free in App Store and Google Play) lets you search for hotels by city or zip code. Or you can find hotels that are closest to your current location. The app pulls up the highest ranking hotels first, lets you check rates and tells you how many miles away they are or shows them on a map relative to your location.

If you're in or near a large city, Hotel Tonight (Free in App Store and Google Play) provides last minute travel deals (sometimes up to 70% off) for hotel rooms, literally, tonight. It can be the perfect app for finding a hotel that evening when you're out on the road—and around one of the locations that the app supports. 

Where to eat

OpenTable app                                                                                                                 

OpenTable

After a long day of driving on the open road, it’s too easy to pull off the highway at the first sighting of a familiar fast food sign. But you’re missing out on all the great small places with authentic and healthy regional food. That’s where Yelp comes in (Free in App Store and Google Play). Not only does it show you local eateries, but it also lists microbreweries, organic coffee shops, and farmers markets.

If you've found the perfect place but need a reservation, OpenTable (Free in App Store and Google Play) is the place to go. Using their website or the OpenTable app, you can search for local restaurants with—get it?—open tables when you're planning on stopping for a meal. If you know where you want to eat, you can search for a specific restaurant—but you can also browse by location, cuisine type, price, and schedule. If outdoor seating is available, you can usually choose to book an outdoor table. 

Parking

Best Parking app

When arriving in a strange town, finding parking is going to be your first task. The Best Parking app (Free on App Store and Google Play) will show you available garage and street parking either immediately around you or anywhere you search on their map, along with the cost for each one. You can filter your search by either garage or street parking, and then further refine you search by features like accessible spaces, valet parking, on-site security, and electric vehicle charging, among others. 

Updated on 4/23/2021

[Image credit: couple driving in convertible via BigStockPhoto, iExit, Google, Toll Guru, Roadtrippers, Trip Advisor, OpenTable, Best Parking]

https://www.bigstockphoto.com/image-99311465/stock-photo-happy-young-carefree-couple-driving-along-country-road-in-convertible-at-sunset


Discussion loading

Traffic/Maps app

From Canadian_user on May 15, 2014 :: 11:26 am

Even better than google maps is an app called “Waze”. Free on iTunes, not sure about Google Play. Shows you real time traffic updates, option for alternate routes, shows where there are cops, whether they are hidden or in plain sight, red light cameras etc etc…

Much better and easier to use than Google Maps app IMO.

Reply

Indeed

From neminem on May 18, 2014 :: 5:08 am

I was also going to post about Waze - I don’t know why anyone would ever recommend Google Maps over Waze… nor do I know how I managed to live so long *without* Waze. I learned about it a few months ago, now I use it anytime I’m driving more than a few miles. There’ve been a few times it’s directed me to do things that made me think it was going crazy and sending me who knows where… every time, after doing what it told me to do, it became clear just how amazing a job it can do at redirecting you past as much traffic as possible by sending you down alternate routes and back.

(And it is also free on Android, as that is what I use.)

Reply

See previous comment

From Google User on February 29, 2016 :: 9:52 am

Well they would recommend the source data (Google Keyhole) over its crappy subsidiary which seems to be aimed at the one demographic that doesn’t drive, tweens with its unprofessional cartoonish interface.

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Waze rocks

From Phil Conti on May 22, 2019 :: 5:59 pm

Ditto your experience..she sends me wherever I shake my head in total belief afterwards in amazement…she got me home three different ways I never would have done or thought…successfully! She rocks!!

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Waze Rules, Almost

From Cat B on April 23, 2021 :: 5:39 pm

Waze is an amazing GPS app.  It fosters a lovely community spirit, with wazers helping other wazers with quick alerts about road hazards, accidents, speed traps, detours, etc.  Waze is almost 100% spot on accurate, even driving all over Italy, with one rather embarrassing hiccup… In Sorrento, Italy, Waze sent us up a progressively narrowing road meant for horses and Vespas, not even the smallest of cars.  15 minutes after renting our little Fiat, thanks to Waze’s glitch, the road closed in on us and we nicked the side mirror.  Otherwise, perfect navigating.

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Incorrect

From Google User on February 29, 2016 :: 9:49 am

Actually Waze with its child like cartoonish interface is far inferior to Google’s interface which uses the same Keyhole data as Google is also the parent company of Waze

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Rest Stops

From Barbara McKenzie on May 15, 2014 :: 5:50 pm

Is there an app that shows upcoming rest stops along highways?

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Rest stops

From Cynthia on December 04, 2019 :: 1:15 pm

Yes, its called ALLSTAYS

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Waze and prvacy?

From Pam on October 20, 2014 :: 8:44 am

What about privacy issues with Waze?

Reply

What privacy issues? Bes to

From Avi on October 20, 2014 :: 9:36 am

What privacy issues? Bes to contact them for any concerns I suppose…

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Contact info for Waze

From Google User on February 29, 2016 :: 9:56 am

They can be contacted at the Googleplex in California

Reply

Alphabet/Google company

From Google User on February 29, 2016 :: 9:53 am

They are owned by google so your just as insecure as you are with google

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Why no Amazon Store Apps?

From L A Graham on May 21, 2015 :: 12:52 pm

I have an Amazon Fire phone.  I cannot use apps from Google OR iTunes on it - only apps in the Amazon App Store.  I realize the Fire phone has a small segment of the current smartphone market But PLEASE provide at least Some content for it.

Reply

Many are available on Amazon

From Josh Kirschner on May 21, 2015 :: 3:27 pm

Many of the apps listed above - Google Maps, Waze, Gas Buddy, OpenTable - are available on Amazon. If something above interests you, it’s worth checking on Amazon to see if you can get it for your Fire phone.

Reply

Thank you!

From L A Graham on May 21, 2015 :: 3:45 pm

Thanks so much.  Waze is in the AppStore at Amazon and installed with no problems.  My prior comment was prompted because the AppStore is Never mentioned as a source for the apps I see in the articles here; it Should be when an app is available there as well.

Reply

Seems Handy

From Sara on May 22, 2015 :: 12:22 pm

The sightseeing and traffic one seems like they might come in handy the next time I travel. Awesome, thanks for listing these!

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How about Roadside Assistance App?

From Lokesh Kumar on June 03, 2015 :: 10:07 pm

I think Urgent.ly is also an essential app for any roadside trip.

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Urgent.ly

From Ron Ablang on May 22, 2016 :: 9:40 am

I checked out the app on the Google Play store.  Looks like it doesn’t yet support Sacramento, CA so I’m sticking w/ AAA car care club and paying my $150/year.

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Does AAA have an app?

From Paul on August 12, 2017 :: 10:22 pm

That would be cool if AAA has an app…used to love how they marked up a map so you know where the cool stuff was along your route.

Reply

AAA Motor Club

From Mike W on May 17, 2019 :: 1:01 pm

AAA Motor Club does have a Roadside Assistance with GPS Locator for your Phone.

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Toll App

From Sarah on December 27, 2017 :: 1:46 pm

I will suggest adding an app that calculates tolls and gas costs for the road trip. TollGuru is a neat trip-planning app that allows you to quickly look up the price of all toll bridges, roadways, and tunnels from start to destination. It adds up the costs of gas and toll to show you the cheapest, fastest, and compromise routes.

Reply

Travel With GozoCabs

From Biplab Poddar on January 27, 2018 :: 9:05 am

Thanks for sharing this. I am a travel. I can relate to you.Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.
People often have a theme that they base their worldly travels on, but how about a mental mantra for your travel? Out of a cheerleading event that consisted of our family shouting supportive words at our daughter who was attempting to kill a rather monstrous spider that the rest of us were too chicken to get close to, came this great quote, “If you don’t think, and you just do….then it’s done!”

This quote came back to haunt me when on vacation in Seattle. I thought it would be a great idea to take the kids on the Seattle Great Wheel, the ferris wheel overlooking the ocean, but as we approached it, I realized how high it went and immediately panicked! Just as I had decided to put the kids on it on their own, my daughter says, “Come on dad…If you don’t think, and you just do….then it’s done!” What could I do at that point?! She was telling me to stop thinking and creating more fear about the situation and just get on the thing!

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Roadfood.com

From Trip Rothschild on May 16, 2018 :: 11:49 am

You missed my favorite road trip resource: roadfood.com.
It lists and reviews one-of-a-kind restaurants that showcase the rich local cuisines still found throughout the country.

Just used it with great success for a cross-country car ferrying drive - in Austin (BBQ), Shreveport (Cajun seafood), Chattanooga (burgers), Shenandoah Valley (Virginia ham) and Scranton (“white pizza”).

Reply

Rest Stops

From Tony Everhardt on August 21, 2018 :: 11:49 am

It’s called Rest Stops. It’s a blue app with a white winding road on it with 5 stars. 1 of the stars being red.

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hotel app

From evangelos carpodinis on November 25, 2018 :: 9:55 pm

driving on the highway. You get sleepy. Any App that will tell you the cheapest hotel in the area?

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AnyFinder (for Apple)

From Gerald Plessner on February 14, 2019 :: 10:01 am

I have recently come across AnyFinder (anyfinder.info) and find it very useful. It works with OpenStreetMap and helps me to quickly find the major kind of POIs from their database. Only works online though.

Reply

Tolls API

From Leo on May 31, 2019 :: 5:23 am

I see you included Tollguru as part of your presentation, but actually they have plagiarized Tollsmart’s concepts and ideas and have since been hiding from public. It is Tollsmart that is the original and best tolls calculator. Do check it out.

Reply

Tolls needed Guru, being smart doesnt help!

From Niraj Singh on April 19, 2021 :: 8:20 am

Well, that’s a big thing that you are saying. Just checked both and found out TollGuru has much more coverage than Tollsmart and their app has a lot more to offer.

Not sure how someone plagiarized what wasn’t even there (wink). Look at their coverage.  Extending the same logic to mapping, I am sure you don’t think that every map provider is a copy of each other right?

Cut to chase, Tollsmart is good but TollGuru is just better. I am a user of their API and they update their toll charges every few minutes. Really fast I must say.

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https://www.bigtravelhelp.com/page/jfk-to-del-flights-from-new-york-to-new-delhi-flig

From JFK on December 17, 2019 :: 8:04 am

Really without these tools travel is not possible in today’s life. I want to say thank you for this beautiful post. It’s really helpful for all travelers.

Reply

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