Summer has just arrived. At least for those us based in the Northern Hemisphere.
That also means that vacation time is just round the corner.
What are your plans? A road trip, anyone?
If that’s on your agenda, you know you won’t be satisfied with Google Maps and a cooler full of snacks when there’s a bunch of other great apps, tools and gadgets to make your road trip even more delightful.
Finding The Way
Your first order of business is making sure you know how to get from point A to point B as well as points C through to Z.
One great little navigation app is Waze. This crowd sourced app not only gives you directions, you also get updates from other Waze users when there’s an accident, road closing or other incidents.
Of course, as a friendly citizen of the Waze community, you can warn others when you see something wrong as well.
The next app isn’t free, but at $2.99 per month it could be worth a whole bunch of money saved. TollsSmart simply warns you of all of the tollways on your route. This means you can plan to have enough change, or you can plan a route around them.
Finding Cheap Gas
Remember when five dollars was actually gas money?
Gas is pretty expensive everywhere you go, but why pay more than you need to? Gasbuddy is both an app and a website that helps you to pinpoint the cheapest gas prices near you.
If you have an electric car, consider using PlugShare as an alternative. This app offers up a comprehensive listing of car charging stations all over the country. You’ll know just where you can stop and charge up.
Keeping Everyone Fed
Road trip food is always a mixed bag of eating snacks from home, gas station binges and convenience stores for late night or early morning eats. Hopefully, also some chowing down at cool local establishments.
Thankfully, there are some apps and gadgets that can keep your crew fed both in and out of the car.
For food you pack from home, there’s the Autoark AK-021. This is an over the seat, insulated food storage system. This will keep water bottles, sports drinks, cheese, fruits, veggies and other snacks cool for the road.
Stopping for gas and snacks can be a real crapshoot. You’ll run across some gas stations where the only thing you want to do is pay for gas and get out of dodge. Then there are the true gems. The gas stations with dozens of possible drink options, hot foods, healthy salads and wraps, etc. RoadFood offers up information on gas station food as well as on the road cuisine.
Is it time to pull over and stop for some real food? No road trip should end without finding at least one, amazing local place to eat. It might be a food truck, Mom and Pop diner, fine dining experience, or authentic, ethnic place.
The point is to find at least a few great local places to nosh. Try checking out the Where Chef’s Eat app to find great places to eat.
It’s extremely important to keep both personal and vehicle safety in mind when organizing any road trip. Fortunately, there are plenty of apps and gadgets to help. Both you and your travel companions should consider the following tools.
The Emergency App was developed by the Red Cross. It was designed to be a key resource to travelers who find themselves in the midst of an emergency or disaster. It contains everything you need from emergency weather alerts to tips on delivering first aid in a variety of situations.
There’s always one traveler who wants to wander off on their own. They might want to stay out when others are ready to crash, or be tempted to take a late night stroll. Whatever the reason, encourage everyone to install the bSafe app. This app allows friends to track your location, sends out an SOS signal in an emergency, and can invite contacts to come and walk with you.
Of course, one of the most important safety considerations is keeping your vehicle safe and in running condition. Consider investing in the Suaoki portable jump start kit. It’s perfect when you have a dead battery and no one is available to help you with a pair of jumper cables. It even comes with a flashlight.
If you do run into engine trouble, the Automatic adapter plugs into your vehicle’s diagnostic port. It provides you exact information on what is going wrong. It also interacts with the companion mobile app to provide you with lots of other information.
Remember that vehicle safety and maintenance is particularly important, if your road trip involves extreme weather conditions, rough terrain, or if you will be taking your vehicle off road for any reason.
Finding Cheap Road Friendly Digs
When everybody takes turns driving, you can make really good time on the road. But the truth is, sometimes you just need to stop and crash somewhere.
Sure, you could just plan ahead and make hotel reservations. The only problem is that this takes a lot of the spontaneity out of road trips. Also, hotels can be really expensive!
Campgrounds can be a great place to crash for a night before moving on. Many are okay with you crashing in your vehicle. Others prefer tent dwellers. Allstays has a great app for finding travel friendly campsites.
Discovering Amazing Things To Do
Where are you going on your road trip? You might have a final destination in mind. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t make other stops along the way. In fact, isn’t that sort of the point?
The RoadsideAmerica app can guide you to everything from tiny, historical museums to fairs, to the largest kumquat in the greater southern area.
Here’s a tip. Try to challenge everyone to out geek one another and find some amazing roadside attractions. Then, give out awards for the most campiests and kitchiest locations.
The apps, tools, and gadgets listed above should cover all of your road trip basics. They will keep you and your friends safe, well fed, heading in the right direction and ensure your vehicle stays roadworthy. You’ll also know just where to stay and what to do along the way.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.