It's summer and we have travel on our minds - summer means road trips. But, gone are the days of struggling with a giant paper road map and atlas, planning ahead, calling hotels for booking, or even researching the best attractions to visit before leaving. The modern road trip is spontaneous. It's a reflection of the current state of our app-loving and smart phone crazed culture. So, embracing the current times, we thought we'd put together a list of the top 5 apps to get you through the modern road trip.
We've already reviewed our top social apps for you. So, use them to round up some friends, pack the car, buckle up, and get your iPhone charger. You're going to be using your phone a lot!
1. TripAdvisor - Find the Best Places to Stay and Eat
Known as one of the most extensive network of reviews and suggestions for travel, TripAdvisor is a must have app for any road trip. Paired with the power of GPS on your phone, TripAdvisor becomes a mobile guide, directing you to the best places around. Recently, we installed and used the app on a trip to Key West. Having never been there, the app was great for ranking and rating places to check out. With so many restaurants and attractions on the small (5 mile!) island, we would have been lost without it. Money is precious, so picking a restaurant without looking at reviews is almost blasphemy these days! In that regard, using TripAdvisor was priceless and provided a truly unique experience, revealing many hidden gems that would we might have otherwise overlooked in favor of traditional tourist traps.
Jibbigo is a neat company that's innovated in the traditional translation app space (and Pittsburgh-based too!) We all know about Google Translate and the other options out there, but, what Jibbigo does differently is that it allows for offline translation. That's right, it lets you translate even when you don't have cellular service! Traveling through the middle of nowhere? No problem, you'll still be able to get a translation when you need it.
Now, the app does cost a little ($4.99) for each language you wish to download. But, my guess is that if you're traveling on a road trip, you probably won't be encountering multiple language zones. Unless you're driving across continents or something...Either way, Jibbigo is a great alternative to free apps that rely on data servers to translate. Check out the 5 star reviews, you'll see why people love it!
Okay, this might sound silly to include. But, think about it! Imagine you're driving in the middle of nowhere en route to your destination when all of a sudden you get a flat tire. With no streetlights around, it's pretty dark! Though, (thankfully) we've never encountered this scenario while driving, but HAVE used our flashlight apps at home during power outages. The iPhone has a great LED light that provides the perfect amount of extra brightness when you need it. Yes, most "old folks" would probably laugh at the suggestion of using this app, but hey, we're in the age of smart phones. Everyone has a phone. How many people have a flashlight handy at all times? The point is, if a flashlight is handy on a regular basis, it's extra handy in road trip conditions!
Spotify made huge waves when it was introduced to the US little while back. And now, it's making even more heads turn with its mobile app. Offering free streaming of custom radio stations, it's similar to the grandfather of them all, Pandora. Though, where it differs is that it lets you search for specific songs and artists, with no limitations on playing the song of your choice. Think of it as a portable library of your (and your friends') favorite songs, making a perfect accomplice for a long road trip. Can't decide on an artist or song? Let the genre-based radio pick them for you!
Maybe this should have been first on the list, not last? That would have made too much sense. But, while the title of the app implies that it might be the end-all app for taking your iPhone on a road trip, it's actually more geared toward those who are interested in tracking the wear and tear on their car during a long drive. The app tracks miles per gallon (MPG) as well as projected expenses incurred by driving great distances.
Being somewhat of mileage-nerds (okay maybe not as much as this guy) this app appeals to us just for the novelty of tracking statistics. We are always conscious of how we're driving, especially so when driving long distances, and certainly anyone taking a long road trip should be concerned with fuel costs, etc. as they can add up quickly!
If you get lost in the middle of nowhere and have to resort to what we call a "Man vs Wild" fire to get you through the night, grab the road atlas that's been collecting dust under your seat and throw it in!
Of course we didn't want to forget to mention the modern day GPS app. Android users are blessed with Google Navigation and need not bother with downloading a GPS app. iPhone users a not as lucky and we suggest spending a little because it'll get you a lot! It's your choice but we suggest upgrading from iPhone's standard Maps navigation because we want you to make it to Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky Ohio not Cedar Point middle of nowhere! A good middle of the road GPS for your iphone is iGo Primo. At $24.99 it tells you where to go with voice control, speaks multiple languages, and will show you true-to-life images of motorway junctions that help verify you're in the right place. What a great comfort feature when you get started on your next American road trip! Bottom line, you get what you pay for and it'll get you to your desired destination!
Hopefully, you've had a chance to take a break and enjoy a vacation this summer. But, if not, be adventurous and take a spontaneous road trip! There's nothing like jumping in the car with nothing (but your phone!) and exploring somewhere new. You've still got time. Load your phone with these apps and get traveling!