There are few better ways to experience the country you’re traveling through than a long, leisurely road trip. That being said, they come with their fair share of challenges as well: traffic, the price of gas, and terrible fast food among them.
Luckily, there are many apps that make road tripping a whole lot easier. From the cheapest place to fill up along your route to last-minute hotel deals, great places to eat to finding parking and public bathrooms, we’ve found some of the best road trip apps to download before you hit the highway.
Roadtrippers simplifies planning a road trip. Enter where you want to go and where you’ll be leaving from, and the app lets you know about cool, strange, and exciting stops along the way that won’t be filled with other tourists.
It’ll also calculate approximately how long the trip will take, and the cost of gas. It’s like having a local expert with you every mile of the way. Roadtrippers is available on the App Store and Google Play.
Gas can really eat into your travel budget, especially on a long road trip. GasBuddy finds the cheapest gas available across the United States and Canada. You can search gas prices nearby when you’re running low, or by city or zip code to get an idea of prices along your route.
It’s easy to sort by distance or price, and you can report the prices you find to help other people who use the app. GasBuddy is available on the App Store and Google Play.
iExit is designed for driving the interstates in the United States. It lets you know exactly how far the next exit is, plus what kind of features and comforts are available up ahead including gas stations, restaurants, hospitals, hotels, and more.
It also has a few third-party integrations, including OPIS, which provides you with real-time updates on gas prices. iExit is available on the App Store and Google Play.
Flush Toilet Finder
If you’re looking for a bathroom, check out Flush Toilet Finder. It has data on over 100,000 public bathrooms around the world. If you’re on the road and faced with a toilet-based emergency, this app might just become your new best friend.
The app works offline and provides important details like which bathrooms have disabled access, require payment, or need a key to access. It’s available on the App Store and Google Play.
Best Parking shows available parking spots that you can book immediately or reserve for later. The app works throughout major cities across the United States and Canada.
Use it to compare prices, and to grab parking at a lower price than what you’d pay on arrival. The Best Parking app is available on the App Store and Google Play.
Getting lost or hitting terrible traffic can really throw a wrench into a good road trip. Not only does Waze give you directions, it suggests shortcuts and gives live traffic updates from other users driving ahead of you, including speed traps and accidents. Waze also lets you know where you can find the cheapest gas.
So, if you’re interested in avoiding traffic and maybe catching more of the countryside via a few handy detours, Waze is an essential addition to any road trip. It’s available on the App Store and Google Play.
Heading off the beaten track? The Outbound helps you figure out what to do in a new area, whether it’s places to sightsee, taking local adventures, or tracking down the best restaurants.
Activity recommendations include detailed descriptions of adventures and tours, with packing lists, mileage, recommended gear, and a suggested skill level. Descriptions are supplied by users of the app who are familiar with the area.
Users can add their own reviews and recommendations as well, and upload pictures of their experience. The Outbound is available on the App Store and Google Play.
Spotify is a road trip must-have unless you’re going old-school and plan to cart around a bunch of CDs. There are millions of songs and podcast episodes available, as well as road trip-specific playlists and curated lists based on your listening history. You can also see what your friends and celebrities are listening to.
If you upgrade your Spotify account to premium, it gets rid of the ads and makes songs available offline. This definitely helps when you’re driving through a dead zone or want to reduce your data usage.
Spotify is available for free on the App Store, Google Play, and Microsoft Store, with premium features available via a monthly subscription.
If you’re approaching a large city and need to rest, take a couple of minutes to skim through Hotel Tonight. The app gives last-minute deals on nearby hotel rooms, with substantial savings that rise as high as 70% off.
There’s no need to get stuck with the first run-down hotel or motel you see on the side of the road, and the app can save you a whole lot of money on last-minute deals. It’s available on the App Store and Google Play.
If you need to get connected and don’t have cell service for whatever reason, WiFi Map will show you where the nearest network is based on your current location.
The Pro version adds a VPN for added privacy and safety on public networks (iOS only), and lets you download offline maps to your phone ahead of time, so you can track down that precious connection.
Boasting information for 100 million networks in 200+ countries, there’s a good chance of finding something in even smaller towns and cities. WiFi Map is available for free on the App Store and Google Play, with the Pro version costing $19.99/year.
Road trips don’t have to mean a steady diet of fast food. Zomato, formerly known as UrbanSpoon, lets you browse menus, photos, user reviews, and ratings of great nearby restaurants when you’re on the go.
You can find details on 1.5 million of the best local restaurants in 24 countries. Zomato is available on the App Store and Google Play.
While you’ll find plant-based restaurants on Zomato, vegetarian or vegan travelers should definitely download Happy Cow as well. For anyone looking to get a healthy dose of vegetables in their diet, it can be tough to find reliable food sources on the road.
The HappyCow app lets you check out reviews, prices, photos, and menu options from your phone, so you know there’ll be something you’re able to eat before you show up. Grab HappyCow for $3.99 on the App Store and Google Play.
Weather on the Way
Got a long driving day ahead? Just because it’s sunny where you are right now doesn’t mean there isn’t rain, storms, or other bad weather a few hundred miles down the road. That’s where Weather on the Way comes in.
This attractive iOS app lets you choose a start and end point, and then displays the weather forecast along your potential route for the times you’re expected to pass through. You can zoom in for more detail, and get details like sunset and sunrise times, severe weather warnings, and temperature predictions.
The free version covers off the basics, while upgrading to Pro ($0.99/month or $9.99/year) adds extras like alternate routes, visibility, chance of rain, wind speeds, and more. The first five trips include Pro features so you can test them out before committing. Download it from the App Store.
⛈ Looking for more iPhone weather apps? We covered a wide range of the best ones here.
Did we miss anything? Which apps do you think are essential for road tripping?
Images via stevepb (map and car keys), Falkenpost (gas station), Free-Photos (parking building), Ph B (hotel sign)