All around the area is the sound of vans being loaded full of suitcases, coolers, activity kits and happy families. It’s vacation time and we thought that we would share some of our favorite vacation planning tools with you in the hopes that it will make your trip even better. I’ve done several road trips with my family and believe me, the (modified) saying “an ounce of preperation is worth a pound of cure” is very true here.
From early planning to on the road to keeping everyone entertained – you can leave that atlas at home – just grab your smartphone and your table and you are ready to roll! (Most of these are available both online and as an app: W = Web-based, M = Mobile apps, B = Available as both!)
Before You Leave:
- TripIt (B): TripIt is a tool that helps you create you itinerary and keeps all of your reservations organized. It will take your flight, hotel and rental car email confirmations and organize your trip. You can subscribe to your friends itineraries and keep up with their plans as well! You have the option to make your trips public or private as well as add multiple travelers to your trip.
- Kayak (B): Whether you need a car to go on your trip or a hotel in each destination, this is my site of choice. It has repeatedly produced the best rates for me in all categories!
- Springpad (B): Similar to Evernote but I prefer it because it caters more to the personal organization. You can create notebooks for each piece of your trip or one master notebook with separate lists, notes, etc. It is an organizational powerhouse and a must for our house when I plan anything – especially roadtrips!
- Roadside America (B): Want to know where the World’s Largest Ball of Twine is? Got it. World’s Smallest Horse? Check. Any good roadtrip must include finding the fun and unique, out of the way places along the way. You can plan ahead or live life by the seat of your pants as you pull into town!
- DayZipping (B): Need something to do close by once you’re to your destination? Let DayZipping help! Just enter your location and this site will give you ideas for a day trip right around you and how much it will cost. This one’s great even for your own hometown!
On The Road:
- GasBuddy (B): Gas is expensive so you want to know where to go to get the cheapest tank possible. If you’re not already using this at home, make your road trip your inaguaral use. Just launch the app and it will locate the cheapest gas near you based on your geolocation.
- AAA (B): Tried and true classic, AAA has modernized it’s offerings. No need for paper TripTiks anymore – there’s an app for that! You can also search for AAA rated restaurants and best deals on hotels while you’re on the road. I never travel without this app.
- RoadAhead (M): This is my new favorite road trip app. An absolute must if you’re traveling with kids. Need to know what restaurants or bathrooms are located at the next exit? This is the app for you. No more getting off the road to find out that McDonald’s is actually 5 miles down the road.
- Sit or Squat (B): Speaking of endless bathroom stops – how can you tell if that particular bathroom is decent enough to – well… sit or squat?? This is from our friends at Charmin (and they KNOW bathrooms) and will come in handy whether you’re on vacation or not!
- Waze (M): Part GPS, part social game, part traffic and police alert. I don’t make this my primary GPS as it doesn’t always have the most up to date directions (but the more you use it, the more it learns) but I definitely launch it once I’m on the road. It has realtime notifications of traffic conditions, speed traps or accidents thanks to other users logging the info in as they’re coming up on it.
Apps to help keep everyone entertained during the long stretch of highway:
- Pandora (B): I’m sure you’re familiar with Pandora by now. No more fighting over what’s on the radio – let everyone have their own Pandora account, create their own stations and then earbud up and everyone can ride in peace. Except the driver – they still get the radio. Earbuds and driving are not a good mix.
- Audible (B): Literally millions of book titles to download. For a small, monthly fee you get credits that will let you download a pre-determined number of downloadable book titles. There are also free titles to download as well as podcasts, newspapers and magazines
- Netflix (B): Take your Netflix on the road! Watch your favorite movies, shows and cartoons all on the road! The only issue that I have with Netflix on the go is that only one device can be logged in at a time. So to help that, I also have…
- Hulu (B): I find that there are many more options for shows (especially) on Hulu. You can get the free version which has ads or pay a monthly fee where you’ll still have ads, just not as many and a lot more options for shows and movies.
Welcome to Town! Now that you’re here, what will you do first?
I hope these suggestions help make your next road trip the best ever! I’d love to hear what some of your favorite ones are – feel free to leave them in the comment section!
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