That next family road trip you’re planning is going to go one of two ways.
Either you’re going to happily sail through your perfectly planned itinerary, or you and your entire family are going to suffer through most of the miles in misery.
The key is in the planning, both before you leave and while you’re on the road. Lucky for you, that smartphone you can’t bear to part with is handier than ever while traveling. Download these must-have apps before your next road trip to help with both pre-trip planning and on-the-road decisions.
1. Roadside America
It’s not hard to figure out where the big theme parks and other main attractions are, but sometimes you want to see something a little more off the beaten path. Roadside America collects the nation’s most curious, interesting and lesser-known tourist attractions and shares them with you. App users get contact info, directions, photos and reviews of each destination.
No one wants to spend half their road trip sitting in traffic. With Waze, you’ll always know what’s coming by using its crowdsourced, up-to-date traffic info.
Road trips may be cheaper than flying, but high gas prices still take a chunk out of your wallet. Save your money for tacky vacation T-shirts, and use GasBuddy to find the cheapest gas on your route.
There’s no need to wait until you arrive at your destination to check out the local flavor. With OpenTable, you can peruse restaurants from across the country — including hours, menus, locations, photos and reviews — and make a reservation from states away.
5. Field Trip
There’s no bigger road trip bummer than finding out you drove by something awesome without even knowing it. That just won’t happen when you run Field Trip in the background of your phone. Preprogram it with all your family’s interests, and you’ll get an alert when you come close to something you might like to check out.
You depend a lot on your phone for guidance when you’re on the road, but what happens when you suddenly find yourself without service? With Triposo, you can download maps and travel guides right to your phone, so you have access to directions even when you’re out in the middle of nowhere.
7. WiFi Finder
Speaking of cell service, we all know sometimes you really need to connect, even when you’re on vacation. WiFi Finder will show you free Wi-Fi and hot spots close by.
Don’t waste your time roaming countless exits, looking for the right lodging or entertainment. Use iExit to see what’s on every upcoming exit so you leave the freeway only when you really want to.
How many times have you watched those travel dining shows and promised yourself you’d make a stop if you ever found yourself nearby? With the TVFoodMaps app, you’ll find out when one of those mouthwatering featured restaurants is nearby.
10. Weather Underground
Don’t let surprise bad weather put a damper on your road trip plans. Plug your trip into the Weather Underground app, and see what you’re in for before it hits.
11. Hotel tonight
When you’re planning a road trip, prebooking all your lodging sounds like a great idea. But when you’re out on adventures, it’s not always easy to stick to the plan. If you end up someplace other than where you’d planned come bedtime, use Hotel Tonight to find the very best prices on nearby rooms, since many hotels use this app to unload empty rooms.
12. Google Goggles
One of the best parts of a road trip is discovering new things, but what do you do when you see something interesting and have no way to figure out what it is? Use the Google Goggles app to get the details, of course! Simply snap a picture of the object in question, and your trusty friend Google will fill you in.
13. Where to Wee
If you have kids in the back seat, you know you have about three minutes from the time they tell you they have to go to when it becomes a dire emergency. Where to Wee tells you where all the nearest bathrooms are and even gives you a heads-up on their access and cleanliness.