Advertisement
Technology

11 Great Apps for Road Trips

The days of navigating a family road trip with just a map and your wits are over.

Scores of smart-phone apps make locating gas stations, roadside eateries and last-minute hotel rooms easy. But you'll get even more mileage from our favorites. They'll steer you around traffic jams, help you manage an emergency, and point you toward scenic hiking trails. All are free.

SEE OUR SLIDE SHOW: Best Cars for Long Road Trips

Advertisement - Article continues below

One for the road. With gas prices painfully high, finding cheap fill-ups and avoiding traffic snarls will keep your wallet and passengers happy. Tell GasBuddy (Android, BlackBerry, iPhone and Windows Phone; it also works on iPads, as do most Apple apps) your location and it will display the lowest fuel prices nearby. The system relies on user updates. If you own an electric car, download CarStations (Android, iPhone) to find recharging stations. At last report, the app listed more than 4,000 locations.

GPS apps are a dime a dozen, and you might already have a device built into your car. But for additional navigational muscle, check out AAA's TripTik (Android, iPhone), which bolsters your directions by including AAA-approved restaurants, repair shops and campgrounds, plus gas prices and directions to more than 2,000 charging stations. Waze (Android, iPhone, select BlackBerry, Nokia and Windows phones) records its users' locations, their speed and other info to create a constantly updated map with traffic jams, speed traps and construction delays.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Hikes and bites. When you tire of gas-station hot dogs and billboard scenery, these apps provide some relief. Stretch those cramped legs on hiking trails pinpointed with Sierra Club Trail Explorer (iPhone). The app is powered by AllTrails.com and uses GPS to alert you to the nearest paths.

Tell Goby (Android, iPad, iPhone) what you want—food, hiking, family fun—and it lists the options nearby. Type in any city, town or region in the U.S. and Goby gives you options in that locale or close by. It can sort options by distance, date or price, or via your "fun feed," a list tailored to your interests (entered manually or by syncing with Facebook). TripIt (Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, Windows Phone) lets you create an itinerary that you can share with others and syncs it with your phone’s calendar. To add to your itinerary, simply forward confirmation e-mails for hotels, restaurants and entertainment to the app.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Sleep cheap. Book last-minute lodging directly through these apps and get generous discounts. Priceline's Negotiator App (Android, iPad, iPhone) includes the "Name Your Own Price" function for savings of up to 60%. "Tonight-Only Deals" (available on Apple products only) lets you reserve a room on the day you need it. Rooms are discounted up to 40%, and they can be booked as late as 11 p.m. For spur-of-the-moment detours into the city, download Hotel Tonight (Android, iPad, iPhone). You can find discounts up to 70% on hotels in 35 cities.

In case of emergency. You'll want these apps after an accident to help you record the necessary information, take photos of the damage and call for help. Nationwide (Android, iPhone) includes a form for recording and exchanging post-accident info, GPS to log the accident location, and instructions on how to take photos of the damage. Nationwide customers can use the app to start filing right away. Roadside Assistance Lite (Android) gives you an accident checklist and instructions for taking crash-scene photos.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

11 Dividend-Paying Stocks You Should Think Twice About
dividend stocks

11 Dividend-Paying Stocks You Should Think Twice About

Dividend-paying stocks often can be a store of safety, but 2020 has been difficult on income equities. These 11 picks look like shaky plays despite th…
September 21, 2020
Medicare Basics: 11 Things You Need to Know
Medicare

Medicare Basics: 11 Things You Need to Know

There's Medicare Part A, Part B, Part D, medigap plans, Medicare Advantage plans and so on. We sort out the confusion about signing up for Medicare --…
September 16, 2020
Where You Should Invest Now
investing

Where You Should Invest Now

Kiplinger.com senior investing editor Kyle Woodley joins our Your Money's Worth podcast to answer investor questions about tech stocks, the election a…
September 22, 2020

Recommended

When Is Amazon Prime Day 2020?
spending

When Is Amazon Prime Day 2020?

Circumstances beyond its control have forced Amazon to move its annual Christmas-in-July Amazon Prime Day blowout sale in 2020 to ... later. Is Oct. …
September 22, 2020
18 Things You Can't Return to Amazon
Smart Buying

18 Things You Can't Return to Amazon

Before tossing these items into your virtual shopping cart, be sure to read Amazon's return policy first.
September 17, 2020
No Summer Vacation This Year? What to Do with the Money You’ve Saved
spending

No Summer Vacation This Year? What to Do with the Money You’ve Saved

Maybe that trip to Hawaii you dreamed about didn’t happen, but look at the bright side: You have a nice little windfall to plan for.
September 2, 2020
The Five Top Consumer Complaints
Smart Buying

The Five Top Consumer Complaints

Here are the top five complaints from a survey of state and local agencies from 19 states.
August 27, 2020