The next time you get the urge to hit the road and see the sights, a driving-themed website or mobile app could help you plan your route and maximize your fun on the road. Some of the best digital road trip helpers can not only provide driving directions and trip planning, but can also alert you to attractions along the way, nearby shopping and the best restaurants.
If you typically head for your car instead of the airport for vacations, you are not alone. According to the U.S. Travel Association, 79 percent of leisure trips in 2012 were taken by car, and many more people are now using their mobile devices to help them find their way on these epic road trips. Sixty-seven percent of smartphone users rely on their phone at least occasionally for turn-by-turn directions, according to a 2014 survey by the Pew Research Center, and 31 percent of smartphone uses noted that they use their phone for GPS-powered directions frequently.
67 percent of smartphone users rely on their phone at least occasionally for turn-by-turn directions Twitter Icon
Apps on your smartphone that provide real-time location information can be particularly helpful for your lucky passenger who is acting as the navigator while you handle the driving. But your smartphone can be helpful as more than just a map. In addition to the selections below, look for regional apps or those associated with your destination to find information specific to your route. But it’s important to remember that using apps or websites to help you during your road trip may take your eyes off the road while driving. Avoid distracted driving by having a passenger monitor the apps or utilize a voice command system while the vehicle is in motion. Here are some apps to consider:
Many map apps simply route you from point A to point B. But with Road Trippers, you select if you want the drive to feature attractions, natural wonders or “weird stuff,” and then the app designs a route specifically for your interests. Some of the strange attractions that this site can serve up include a giant teepee, the filming location of “Gone with the Wind” and America’s largest sundial. You can also see what other travelers have to say about the stops along the way; both the scenic routes and the strange sights.
Motorcyclists can also have scenic routes designed just for them. Use this Harley Davidson app to customize your route to take advantage of the most scenic terrain, while also taking motorcycle safety into consideration. After you plot your route within the app you can sync it to your dash-mounted GPS device for easy access. Need some inspiration for where to ride? The website has an inspiring video of the best rides across the country to help with your trip planning.
A list of driving apps wouldn’t be complete without this popular road trip companion. Many drivers have wished at some point that they had a crystal ball telling them a three-hour traffic jam was lurking around the corner. But with Waze, other drivers report slowdowns and you can change your route and the app can notify you via its voice technology through your smartphone’s speakers. So, if you are going to admire the foliage in the fall or driving on the coast in the spring, you can avoid being in a line of rubberneckers.
While not an app, this robust website can download your pre-planned trip to GPS devices, and the site can be used on mobile devices. Want to find some of the best scenic drives in your area or an area you are traveling to? My Scenic Drives lists all of the scenic routes in each state with detailed information about each drive – basically your own tour guide. This site boasts a wealth of knowledge – with a tour-guide-style description of each stop, links to nearby hikes, other drives in the area as well as ratings from other travelers. While not technically an app, this site is mobile-friendly and allows you to send the routes to your phone if accessing from a computer.
These are just a few digital road trip assistants, but there are plenty of others available that may provide you with a set of tools and services that more accurately fits your needs for a particular trip. Do you have a favorite road trip app? Tell us below in the comments!