Let's all just take a moment right now to accept the futility of our best-laid plans for an unplugged vacation this holiday weekend. If you're anything like us, then you and your smart phone could probably qualify as conjoined twins. And you know what? It's okay, because they are gonna help take those Fourth of July travel plans to the next level.
If you're traveling by plane, be sure to check out The Five Best Travel Apps; but if you're staying a little closer to home, you'll want to download these five apps before you hit the road.
5. Gas Guru
This app won't direct you to any old gas station during your travels. Instead, it'll show you the ones with the cheapest gas. Gas Guru is useful even when you aren't traveling, but on road trips, the savings are even more noticeable. You can also use the app to find nearby restaurants, coffee shops, and ATMs in case you're looking for a little more than a quick fill-up. We also think you'll appreciate the clean and simple user interface.
If you are one of those people who worries about getting stuck in the middle of nowhere without food, lodging, or gas, this is the app for you. iExit lets you know in real time what is coming up at the next interstate exit. If you have the app running all the time, it can be a big drain on your battery because it uses GPS, but it's perfect to turn on once you're thinking of making a pit stop.
Forgot to plan ahead and book a place to sleep? No problem. Hotel Tonight has you covered. It's a quick booking machine that also offers great deals on places to stay for the night; kind of a procrastinator's dream.
For outdoorsy types, this app is the jackpot. The National Parks app excels in the precise way you would expect a National Geographic app to excel -- the photos. But it also includes thorough information about trails, camping, and other activities of interest. Be forewarned that it does not include every single National Park in the country, but the 25 park guides it does include are awesome.
Cost: Free with guides available for purchase in the app.
If any one piece of technology encapsulates what a road trip is all about, this is it. Roadtrippers is an app with accompanying web interface that helps you find all of the cool, quirky things that make road trips worthwhile. You can create itineraries for trips or just explore based on location. Places are categorized making it easier to find things that interest you personally. Do yourself a favor and check this one out.
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Bonus: Field Trip
This app would have made the list, but it's pretty new so we still don't trust it 100%. Field Trip is essentially a guide to whatever is interesting around you. Unlike Roadtrippers it sends you notifications when you get near something cool, which is either really cool or really annoying depending on your perspective.