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Americans have long cultivated a heady romance with the open road. And can you blame us? It doesn’t get much more exciting than trailblazing the pavement ribbon, whether you’re a 24/7/365 nomad or a weekend escape artist.
Maybe you plan road trips for months at a time, meticulously pouring over every detail of your next trip. If you enjoy drawing up a complete itinerary before you head out, more power to you. That said, there’s something to be said for a spontaneous road trip.
If this sounds a little sketchy to you, it’s time to rethink your position. After all, there’s a whole world of excellent travel apps out there to help you get from point A to point B in the most picturesque and thrilling way possible.
No matter your comfort zone when it comes to prepping for travel, here’s what you need to know about the seven best travel apps to help you get around.
1. Google Maps
You can’t get where you’re going if you don’t have the know-how. That’s where Google Maps come into play. Yes, this app has been around for so long that it’s a veritable cliche. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more comprehensive app for your needs.
The folks at Google constantly update the app so that you don’t end up “a thousand miles from nowhere,” to quote cowboy crooner Dwight Yoakam.
The bottom line is this. Every traveler needs a trusted navigation app on their smartphone, and Google Maps remains a solid option.
How would you like to avoid construction, traffic jams, and car crashes while chasing the horizon? If the answer’s yes, then you’ve got to get onboard with Waze. This app provides real-time updates as well as directions for navigating new cities like a local.
That way, you can nix hours lost in traffic while gaining time to explore off-the-beaten-path local dives and hidden gems. To streamline your experience, the app collects data from other drivers. That way, you can get where you need to go the way you want to.
You’ll find Waze available for download for both iOS and Android. It represents an excellent way to make the most of your travel time and downtime (once you park your vehicle and start exploring).
Speaking of parking, there’s nothing worse than arriving in a new city and not knowing where to leave your ride. If you’ve ever driven around Ocean Beach, San Diego, searching for a place to leave your vehicle, you know what we mean.
The same goes for trying to find a place to plant your wheels in San Francisco, New York, and Chicago. What’s more, even if you’re the lucky recipient of a spot, you might end up owing your first-born to pay off your parking fees.
What to do? Download the ParkMobile app today. It lets you reserve a parking spot ahead of time so that you always know you’ve got a place to keep your vehicle.
If you haven’t noticed rising gas prices over the last few months, then you’ve had your head in the sand. As these material costs continue to rise, you may feel hesitant to go on a road trip. After all, the last thing you want to do is burn through all of your hard-earned funds in fuel.
But what if we told you there’s an app that can help you save money on gas no matter where you go? Would it put you back in the adventuring mood? We can vouch that it’s definitely stoked our wanderlust in recent months.
Known as GasBuddy, the app provides you with the lowdown on the cheapest gas stations, so you never end up paying more than you absolutely have to at the pump. The app represents a network where drivers can clue each other in on the best prices.
So, you can also pay it forward by reporting where the closest and most affordable gas stations are. The app comes with a place to report nearby parking, too.
Although it proves less extensive than ParkMobile, it may prove handy in a pinch. GasBuddy is available for both iOS and Android.
5. Roadside America
If offbeat and kitschy roadside attractions float your boat, then do not pass go and do not collect $200 UNTIL you download Roadside America. This one-of-a-kind app is true to its name, reporting on all of the zaniest and most delightful oddities you can see by the side of the road.
Whether you wish to visit Mark Twain’s toilet in Virginia City, Nevada, or the World Famous Crochet Museum in Joshua Tree, California, this app’s for you. It will help you find those unique places worth stopping to take a gander.
Just know you’ll pay $2.99 with extra in-app purchases to enjoy all of the glorious eccentricities located from sea to shining sea. Only available on iOS, there’s also a limit of 500 miles when generating routes. But you can get around this by searching your trip in segments.
Sometimes you pull into town later than you’d like. That’s the nature of the game. Or you arrive when a major event is underway that has hotels chock full of guests, like Mule Days in Bishop, California. What to do?
HotelTonight is there when you need to find a quick place to crash and don’t have the luxury of planning ahead. Not only can it help you get out of a pinch, but it also provides day-of deals on the hotels nearest your location. This app will save you both time and money, and it’s available via iOS and Android.
7. iExit Interstate Exit Guide
Sometimes, there’s nothing more frustrating than knowing where to get off the road. Whether you’re looking for an indy coffee house or a decent place to get a bite to eat, you often don’t know where you want to go until you’ve already passed the exit sign.
And if you’re traveling out West or in the Midwest, you understand there can be serious mileage between your last and next freeway exits. That’s where iExit comes to the rescue.
It provides the info you need to find the perfect place to nosh, a clean and safe restroom, or a gas station. Get it for Android or iOS and take the guesswork out of pit stops.
The Apps to Fuel Your Spontaneous Road Trip
The seven apps listed above will take the stress and worry out of a spontaneous road trip. It might even light the fire you need to get out there to start roaming.
Are you ready for more travel hacks to make your next vacay the trip of a lifetime? Browse our blog now for the tips and tricks you need to rock your next automotive getaway.