8 FREE apps to make your road trip a success
Whether you’re moving across the country or heading out for a family road trip, these apps will help make the journey more enjoyable. 1. Waze – This navigational app is more than just another pile of maps. It has a social component to keep you on route and on time.
Wazers (that’s what they call their users) can report road hazards like a crash, construction work or a disabled vehicle in the roadway to alert fellow motorists about potential delays. If the problem is causing significant problems, Waze will find an alternate route to avoid the congestion and keep you moving.
Motorists can even report the presence of a police car so other drivers can check their speed and be sure to stay in the clear.
- Notify friends when you’re on the road and allow them to watch your journey in real time on the map
- Search places of interest like stores, restaurants and gas stations
- Add photos of destinations that other Wazers may find useful
Author’s Note: This app enabled me to drive in the greater New York City area. If I had not stumbled upon Waze, I probably would’ve stayed in the house for the past year.
2. Oh Ranger! Parkfinder – This is an app every Moving Mom needs whether they’re embarking on a road trip or not. It is a massive database of parks across the country.
Just enter your zip code or turn on your location feature and hit the search button. Voila! A whole list of parks nearby, complete with park features, address, website, phone number and reviews.
- Check in when you arrive at a park
- Share your park findings with friends
- Search based on things to do, like golfing, biking, caving and fishing
3. GasBuddy – It’s exactly what it sounds like: an app to help you find cheap gas wherever you’re located.
Sort nearby stations by price or distance, depending on the urgency of your gas needs (or bathroom needs, as the case may be).
- Earn points for reporting prices
- Use points to enter drawings for free gas
- Find coupons redeemable at gas stations near you
4. Findery – This is the perfect app for any tried and true traveler. Findery bills itself as “the treasure map of your life,” but it’s also the map of everyone else’s lives and you get the benefit of learning from their mistakes and successes.
As you explore new places, use Findery to share your favorite local food finds, scenic overlooks or boutiques. Or use the suggestions of other users to help you decide which town to spend the night in during your roadtrip.
- Read a Findery newsfeed of sorts to see what fellow travelers are up to
- Select any city or country and read real-life travel reviews to help determine whether it’s the right fit for your travel plans
5. TVfoodmaps – You know all those Food Network shows that have you drooling over burnt ends from Kansas City barbecue joints or fluffy, decadent cupcakes in Washington, D.C.? You think “Mental note: if we’re ever in Kansas City, we have to try that restaurant!”
The makers of this app must have known that busy moms don’t actually remember those mental notes so they compiled it for us! Just enter your location and TVfoodmaps will list nearby eateries that have been featured on a variety of television food shows. Or use the Road Trip feature to find delicious dishes along the route of your road trip. Just enter your starting point and your destination and be sure to include how far off course you’re willing to drive to indulge your inner foodie.
- Use the TV Listing function to find out which food shows are airing today and which restaurants and cities will be highlighted
- Create lists of your favorite dining establishments that you’ve tried and a separate list for the ones you hope to get to soon
6. Spotify Music – Just when you think you’re going to claw your eyes out if you have to listen to one more 90s slow jam on the only station that comes in while cruising down a desolate stretch of highway, this app comes in and saves the day.
Spotify Music is an app that allows you to search for any artist, album or playlist on your phone for free. Bringing your tablet? No problem. The app also brings up any song, any time for tablets. The free version has ads but then again, so do those old-school radio stations you were just listening to.
Bonus: There’s a category called “Songs to sing in the car.” It’s like they saw us coming.
- Create playlists
- Offers a selection of running playlists that begin after the app detects your running tempo and matches it to music at the same pace, which helps you run farther. Authors note: You NEED to try this feature if you run better with music – it’s fantastic!
- “Moments” category offers playlists to fit any mood from “backyard barbecue” to “productivity booster”
7. States and Plates FREE– If you’re driving cross country, you’re going to see a lot of things. But let’s face it, most of those things will be other cars. So why not make it a game?
This license plate game app helps you keep track of all the vehicles you see from states all over the country. Just select your home state when you begin and start checking states off the list! A U.S. map will highlight each state you obtain and help show areas you’re missing.
- For each state plate you find, you’ll be asked a Vanity Insanity question that asks you to solve the meaning of a vanity license plate. Example Question: BR DWLK for the State of New Jersey. Answer: Boardwalk
- App lists fun facts about each state as you tally the license plates
8. Road Trip Ice Breaker Questions for Couples – Ok, so you already know your husband. And he knows you pretty well, too. But after hours or even days in the car, when the kids are passed out or tuned into their devices, it’s time to spice things up and find out something new about one another. That’s where this app comes in handy.
It literally offers one thought-provoking question after another. Obviously the passenger is in charge of reading the questions, but some of the answers may surprise you.
Example questions: If money was no object, what is the one thing that would be most important for you to do? Who helped you figure out how to ask someone out on your first date? How do you plan to handle the aging of your parents?
Some questions are heavy and some are more light-hearted. But they’ll all make you think and maybe even reveal a new side of you.
– By Emily Shedek