There’s one thing that every camping adventure has in common: the road trip. Say what you want about technology at the campsite, but in our opinion, the fact that we all have a tiny computer in our pockets has drastically improved the road trip experience. From games to finding a place to eat to saving a few bucks on gas, we have you covered. Here are our tried and true road trip apps, updated for 2020.
You’re not going to find a better navigation app than Google Maps. Why? Because it’s the most widely used, which means that it has the most accurate traffic updates.
PRO TIP: Always download the area you’re going to be traveling in before you leave the house. When you do this, it will still provide navigation with zero cell reception.
Some people really love Waze. It’s more community based than Google Maps and has a few neat features, but it’s not our favorite. We put it here because it’s fairly popular, and to tell you why we don’t prefer it – you can’t download maps for offline use. Also it’s just for driving, and Google Maps works for every mode of transport (including walking).
Toll Calculator GPS Navigation
Our advice is to just keep a bunch of cash and coin on hand because you have to get there anyway right? That said, this app lets you choose different travel times and routes to calculate how much moolah you’ll have to spend. Pretty slick.
Trip and Toll Calculator
Like the app above, this toll calculator estimates tolls for cars, trucks, trailers – pretty much everything. You can also enter payment options and input multiple destinations.
Why did we include a hiking app on our road trip list? Because All Trails has an excellent filter feature. If you’re in the car all day and you need to stretch your legs you can search for one-mile hikes along the way. Pulling off the highway for a 20 min hike is a great way to fight travel fatigue and get reenergized.
Here’s another great way to get the blood flowing after you’ve been sitting for too many hours. No matter where you are you can always find geocaches, and they’re often close to the road. Grabbing a bite at a restaurant? Open the app and there’s probably a geocache within a few hundred yards. It’s a fun way to change things up. Need a few tips? Check out our article on geocaching.
It’s not a road trip without tunes! The best thing about Spotify on a long journey is the “collaborative playlist” feature. Anyone else with the app can add songs, which keeps everyone involved. You can get creative with this. Our favorite is to add songs that are inspired by the town you just drove through.
This is one of the best road trip apps for real-world situations. Often times someone in the car needs to eat or use the bathroom sooner rather than later. With iExit you can find out everything available at your upcoming exits. That way someone can empty their tank, you can fill yours, and someone can get that meatball sub they keep talking about.
Roadside America is one of the best road trip apps of all time. Instead of taking a break at a wayside rest, why not pull in to see something truly bizarre? Every weird roadside attraction you can think of is in this app. Get ready to go nuts on Instagram. We saw three fairy tale themed attractions in New Jersey and it was awesomely weird.
This one is for groups only, and really gets the gears turning. The narrator describes a seemingly odd scenario, and the players can only as yes/no questions. It’s very conversational and encourages cooperation. If you like lateral thinking puzzles you’ll love Dark Stories.
Would You Rather?
There are a lot of “would you rather” apps out there and this is one of the better ones. It’s always good for a few laughs, and usually sparks interesting conversations that you never thought you’d have in a million years.
Stitcher is a podcast app that has an excellent interface, making it easy to create lists of your favorite topics. On a road trip, search for episodes that are all about your destination! It’s fun to learn more about where you’ll be spending your weekend, and it’s one of the best road trip apps for making the trip feel shorter.
Last but not least, sometimes you just need to get a little shut-eye, and nothing will drown out your fellow passengers better than good ol’ white noise. This app by TMSOFT also has a lot of nature sounds, but our favorite is actually brown noise (yes there are different colors). It has more bass and drowns out pretty much everything so you can rest up for a weekend of adventure.