How do you plan a road trip? How do you find interesting points of interest along the way? How do you make sure that the hotel you’re planning to stay at is clean and in a safe neighborhood? Where should you stop to eat? Which auto repair shops can you trust in a strange town?
First there were tour books and guide books – full of expert, though sometimes dated expert opinions. Then came the web, with (mostly) current information and a wealth of customer reviews. Today you have apps – thousands and thousands of apps – that can run on your smartphone or tablet PC.
Here is a list of apps and resources that should be on your portable device before you leave home.
Yelp – Nobody does user reviews like Yelp, and their app provides a handy way to access the latest reviews from any device. It’s particularly useful for finding services – such as an auto-repair shop you can trust, and good local restaurants for when you are ready to go beyond the national chains.
TripAdvisor – Need a place stay? Need some insight as to whether a local attraction is worth the visit? The user reviews on TripAdvisor are a solid resource. They also have a number of city guides you can use offline (no data charges or cellular connection required). Locations include: Boston, Chicago, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, San Francisco and Washington D.C.
GasBuddy – Join a community of users who report on local gas prices so that everyone can quickly find the least expensive gas stations in the area. iPhone, Android and Blackberry only.
There are a number of apps that can come in handy for finding local discounts while traveling. AAA members can use the AAA discounts app to find hotels, restaurants or attractions that offer AAA discounts. If you are a FourSquare user, their app shows listings of local places that offer discounts for FourSquare users. If you purchased an Entertainment book, be sure to register online and download their app for access to discounts along the way – many of which can be used directly from your device. All of these can use your phone’s GPS to find discounts near you.
Be sure to search for local apps depending on where you are going. For example: if you’re visiting Disneyland, you’ll want the Disneyland wait time app that give you instant updates on ride wait times. If you’re visiting New York, you’ll want the TKTS app that offers a real time view of the shows for which discount tickets are available.
When it comes to searching for apps, check out quixey.com. Just type in what you are looking for in plain English and you’re almost certain to find the right apps for the job. It’s not an app, but their mobile website will do the trick. Try typing in “Best apps for a road trip”. You’re sure to find at least one app to add to your list.