11 Indispensable Apps for Your Best Road Trip Ever

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    Essential Tools for Awesome Trips

    Greatest Drive Road Trip App
    ••• SocialNav, Inc.

    Heading off on a road trip with your family? Having the right apps in your toolbox can take your vacation from meh to marvelous. Click through for our top picks.

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    Greatest Drive

    Free Road Trip App: Greatest Drive
    ••• SocialNav, Inc.

    Road trips are about the journey. If you're still planning your route, Greatest Drive can recommend the best road-trip itineraries for your needs, along with a summary, star rating, and user reviews.

    Is your kid prone to car sickness? Do you want the scenic route? This app will tell you whether a road is twisty, picturesque, or likely to be congested with traffic. Hungry? Integration with Yelp helps you find good places to eat and attractions to see along the way.

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    ••• HotelTonight

    Even on the best-planned family road trips, there may be some days where you're not sure where you're going to spend the night. What you need in your pocket is a way to land a cheap hotel wherever you happen to be.

    When you need a last-minute hotel, the HotelTonight app can land you a super deal with just three taps and a swipe. By matching travelers with unsold hotel inventory, HotelTonight can help you find a room for the same night or up to a week out, at more than 15,000 hotels in over 500 destinations all over the world.

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    ••• GasBuddy

    An essential road trip app, GasBuddy can help you estimate how much you'll spend on a car trip. Using real-time reports from other app users, it can also direct you to the cheapest gas stations along your route. 

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    Best Road Trip Apps: TuneIn
    ••• TuneIn

    Trying to find a great radio station in unfamiliar territory can sometimes feel like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. But what if you could discover awesome radio stations wherever you happen to be? 

    Along with TuneIn's 100,000-plus stations from all over the world, you also get streaming access to myriad concerts, podcasts, and talk shows. From NPR and BBC news to dozens of musical genres and sports to local traffic alerts, this nifty radio app gives exactly what you what you want, when you want it.

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    ••• Waze

    While GPS-enabled navigation apps are a dime a dozen, Waze takes your road trip to a new level of social connectivity. The self-proclaimed "world's largest community-based traffic and navigation app" links you to fellow Wazers who share real-time traffic info and even gas prices. Along your route, you'll get alerts on vehicles stopped on the side of the road, excessive traffic, dangerous weather conditions, or police lying in wait for speeders. Leave an alert of your own, and you'll get a series of thank yous. (Wazers are as zealously polite as they are helpful.) 

    The only problem? Interacting with Waze can be fun to the point of distraction, so it's not for solo drives. On family road trips, let your 'tween or teen co-pilot take the phone (setting your Waze mood to ninja, zombie, or sunglass-sporting cool cat) so that your family can safely give as well as receive useful information as you travel to your destination. 

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    Don't belong to an auto club? No worries. You can have the peace of mind of having roadside assistance with a free app called Honk that lets you quickly call a tow truck or mechanic without the annual membership fee. The app gives you access to 24/7 highway help from a database of more than 20,000 independently-owned tow trucks and garages, with service starting at under $50.

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    ••• HealthyOut

    Does your son have a gluten intolerance? Is your daughter a vegan? Or are you trying to stick to a low-carb plan? Whatever your dietary needs, HealthyOut lets you quickly find healthy restaurant choices in over 500 cities across the country. You can search by calories and points, nutrition tags and more.

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    ••• TripIt

    Where did you put that rental car confirmation number? What's your hotel's address? Do you find it hard to keep track of all your important travel details? TripIt is a genius app that simplifies your travel plans with zero drama. Just forward the confirmation emails from relevant providers—hotel, car rental, ticket vendors, and so on—and Tripit magically converts them into a concise, chronological trip itinerary with all the important information in one place. Use it once and you'll never look back.

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    Google Maps

    Best Travel Apps: Google Maps
    ••• Google

    Don't dismiss Google Maps as just an oldie but goodie. This app is still a rock star because it's so versatile and simple to use.

    First, it offers step-by-step GPS-enabled driving directions to where you want to go. On foot in an unfamiliar place? The app gives you detailed walking directions—including public transportation options in cities—with distance and estimated times. It can recommend places to eat and things to do, complete with user reviews and comments. And you can even use it to remind yourself where you parked your car. Genius.

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    ••• RoadNinja. Suzanne Rowan Kelleher

    Every family has its favorite chain restaurants, and maybe you are loyal to a certain gas station brand.

    If you've ever wished you had a crystal ball on a road trip to tell you exactly which restaurants, gas stations, and other amenities lie ahead on your route, check out RoadNinja, a free app that hits the fastforward button and shows you what's coming up at future exits.

    The app can tell you what's available at upcoming exits up to 3,000 miles ahead, and you can customize the exit list with your favorite brands and filter exits by category. You can also use the app to view and compare real-time gas prices, and redeem location-specific special offers and coupons along the way.

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    Weather on Wheels

    Weather on Wheels app
    ••• Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi

    Want to know if bad weather will impact your road trip? Use the Weather on Wheels app to see forecasts at a glance along your entire route. If a storm or other weather event is predicted for anywhere on your itinerary, the app will track weather conditions and may advise you to change your start time or suggest an alternative route.