Road Trip Apps

shutterstock_171584552If you’ve read any of my former entries, you know I’m a fan of a road trip.  And moving to Texas has reset my family’s acceptable number of hours in a car.  When we entered Texas, for the first time, and saw that I-10 ran 879 miles in the state of Texas, we knew we were not on the East Coast anymore!  Since that first trip, our family has done lots of local drives to Waco, Austin, College Station and more.  We’ve also done some longer road trips.  Our whole family drove from The Woodlands to Yellowstone National Park, where we also stopped at Arches National Park in Utah and Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming.  I’ve also popped my kids in the car one summer and drove from The Woodlands to Illinois to Pennsylvania to Washington, DC to North Carolina and back over a 3-week time span.  I love road trips and the chance they give us to connect and actually talk, even though my kids are usually entranced by one device or another.  They are required to put them away for periods each day but how could I put those devices to good use?

The April 2016 magazine publication Living – The Woodlands Edition had just the information I needed.  They had an article, “Open Road Downloads,” that included some great recommendations of apps to download to enhance any road trip, near or far.  I’ve include the content below and plan to incorporate more than one of these on our next trip!  Click here for the original article: http://www.livingmagazine.net/open-road-downloads/

For help in navigation:

roadtrippersRoadtrippers – A great road trip often starts with a great plan (even if it gets messed with along the way). EnterRoadtrippers, which allows you to take a good look ahead of time and mark out a route that includes all the stuff you want to see. Enter your starting and ending points, then check off attractions you’re interested in. The app will even estimate your fuel costs. You can also edit your route on the web—your work stays synced between the website and app. (Free)

osmOSMAnd+ – While apps like Google and Apple’s standard mapping tools are probably more than sufficient for your daily commute, consider upgrading to a powerful application like OSMAnd+for meandering road trips. The app allows you to download full maps of entire regions for those instances where you might lose cell signal off the beaten path, ensuring you won’t be suddenly without navigation if you hit some patchy areas. (Free/$6.99)

meet-me-in-the-middle_result_result-150x150Meet Me in the Middle – If your road trip will end in meeting another person, perhaps… halfway, consider the realistically named Meet Me in the Middle, which will intelligently spit out the most logical midpoint between two entered destinations. You can even click the little icon to receive a recommendation for a coffee shop or restaurant at which to meet. (Free)

For an interesting diversion:

historyhere_result_result-150x150History Here – As it turns out, the folks at The History Channeltook a short break from cranking out shows about aliens and pawn shops to put together a genuinely interesting little application called History Here, which points out historical places near wherever you are, complete with a little background and (usually) a photo. If you find yourself in some bigger cities, you can even do some of the app’s curated “history tours” that take you on routes past various notable landmarks, like places frequented by Marilyn Monroe in Hollywood or Capone-era locales in Chicago. (Free)

tvfoodmaps_result_result-150x150TVFoodMaps – Another television-related app, TVFoodMapsis definitely your jam if you’ve ever caught an episode of something on Food Network where they go to a restaurant and been like “hey I gotta try that place!” It’ll show you any restaurants nearby that have been featured on one of dozens of shows, tell you what show featured it, show you the menus and hours when available, and even give you the episode name and air date if you wanna track it down. (Free)

iexit_result_result-150x150iExit – If you’ve ever found yourself flying down the Interstate wishing you had a little more information on where to fill the car’s tank (or your own) outside of those handy blue signs, iExitis the app for you. This’ll locate you on the highway, show you your upcoming exits, and provide a helpful list with details about all the good stuff there is behind each one, from food to fuel to hotels. (Free/$2.99)

In search of amusement for the drive:

audible_result_result-150x150Audible – If you’re an Amazon user you’re probably at least a little familiar with Audible Essentially the iTunes of audiobooks, Audibleis the modern alternative to carrying around a giant folder full of CDs containing the unabridged Lord of the Rings novels. If you’re a new user, you can sign up for a free trial and get yourself a book or two, gratis—enough to get you through a pretty long trip, depending on what you pick. You can also download the books to your phone to avoid losing the plot in case of a signal dropout. ($14.99/month)

heads-up_result_result-150x150Heads Up! – Popularized by Ellen DeGeneres on her daytime talk show, Heads Upboils down to a glorified version of that party game Catch Phrase. One player holds the phone facing the other players, who try to give clues to the phone holder so they can guess the person, movie, phrase, or whatever else appears on the screen. This can be easily modified so one person sees the screen and gives clues for the others in the car to guess—even the driver can get in on the action. Add-on packs covering tons of specialties are available for purchase within the app. ($0.99)

pocket-casts_result_result-150x150Pocket Casts – The wonderful world of podcasts—essentially fully contained talk radio shows on a wide range of topics—has brought an almost impossible variety of programming to your usual car rides. There are plenty of options for listening to podcasts, but we like an app called Pocket Casts, which lets you browse, subscribe to, and download hundreds of free shows like This American LifeChannel 33Serial, and lots more in a jiffy. You’ll have to shell out a couple bucks for the app, but the quality compared to non-paid alternatives makes it worth the buy. ($3.99)

Amy McLaughlin Personal Concierge and Blog Contributor

Amy McLaughlin
Personal Concierge and
Blog Contributor