Are you planning your summer road trip(s) yet?
I can’t wait to hit the road this summer with my family. And when we do, I will be relying heavily on several road trip and travel apps. I have compiled a list of my favorite FREE ones to help with your planning and traveling.
We are Team Apple at our house and all of the apps I use are iOS from the App Store. A lot of my recommendations, however, can also be found on Android.
- Google Maps
While I love Apple products, the Maps app is definitely not my favorite. That’s because Google Maps is so AWESOME! You can beat traffic with real-time ETAs and traffic conditions, save time with automatic re-routing based on live traffic, accidents and road closures and even find top-rated restaurants and other businesses. You can also use offline maps to search and navigate when you don’t have an internet connection.
- Gas Buddy
Right behind Google Maps, Gas Buddy is my most used app when traveling. Gas prices can fluctuate (a LOT sometimes) from community to community. So I always use it when planning my road trips (love-love-love the Heat Map section of the website). And it’s super convenient when you’re traveling as well. We’ve saved more than a $1 per gallon by waiting for the next town to get gas.
- Sit or Squat
I’m pretty picky when it comes to going to the bathroom as we travel. There are a lot of sketchy-nasty-smelly-dirty-and-so-on public bathrooms out there. Especially at gas stations. We’ve found newer truck stops and rest stops to have the cleanest ones. Sit or Squat by Charmin, though, helps you search for clean public bathrooms wherever you go with more than 100,000 public restrooms included.
- USA Rest Stops
Speaking of bathrooms … how far to the next rest stop? That question is easily answered with the USA Rest Stops app. It’s location based so you can search near you wherever you are and includes all interstate, US and state highways. You can also save your favorites for your next trip and view ratings from other travelers.
- TV Food Maps
One of the best things about traveling is the food. And we love to eat where the locals eat.
We started a tradition in 2010 of eating at Triple D (Diners, Drive-ins and Dives) restaurants on each road trip. TV Food Maps makes them so easy to find. It tracks over 40 different TV shows and allows you to find restaurants near you or in a specific location.
BestParking helps you find the cheapest and most convenient parking facilities in 105 cities and 115 airports. It shows both parking in garages and on the street and also provides reservations at some locations.
Parkmobile is another great parking app with over 1 million parking spots in over 3,000 locations across the country. It lets you pay right from your phone (PayPal, Apple Pay, masterpass, Chase Pay, Visa Checkout or your credit or debit card) without having to use a meter or kiosk.
I’m sure you and your kids have plenty of games on your mobile devices to keep you entertained. But here are a couple of other suggestions.
A big part of our family’s road tripping is educational so one recommendation is State the States. It’s a fun way to learn the 50 states and capitals with state flags, state nicknames and statehood dates. There’s both a learning and a game section.
Find the License Plate is a digital way to keep track of the old school road trip game of locating as many different state license plates as you can on any given trip.
- Weather Channel
This one might seem pretty obvious but The Weather Channel is my favorite weather app with its (fairly 😉) reliable forecasts, interactive radar and real-time alerts (the alerts might be my favorite part). You can plan your day around the weather and make last-minute changes if that forecast wasn’t quite as reliable as you hoped.
- Apps specific to your destination
Disney World,Marriott, Smoky Mountains (one of our destinations this summer), etc. There are lots of apps out there for wherever you’re headed. Just do a search in the app store. If there’s more than one, make sure you check the reviews and user ratings.
There you go … my list of free favorites. Have any others not on my list? Let me know!
And remember to pack your chargers before you hit the road!