Best road trip apps

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Using apps to achieve the perfect summer road trip

The dream of the road trip—windows down, perfectly curated playlist on, nothing but open road—really is just that; a dream.

In reality, road trips tend to be a challenge: Snarled summer traffic, kids who have to pee twice as often as they do at home, and stifling heat that dares you to even try to roll down the windows. 

Despite the challenges, the summer road trip—the most American of vacations—is such a compelling and rewarding way to experience the country that millions of families take to the road ever year. Thanks to technology, there are plenty of ways to minimize the annoyances and increase the likelihood that a summer road trip will live up to the ideal. 

Let’s run the common scenarios.

1) You’ve been driving for hours and it feels like you’ve seen nothing but corn fields/desert/kudzu-covered trees. Everyone’s getting restless and you all could use a good distraction. Roadside America has just the solution. The app is chock-full of America’s quirkiest roadside attractions. And nothing breaks up a long drive like the World’s Largest Ball of Twine, partially buried Cadillacs, or “Foamhenge.”


2) Everyone’s hungry, someone already ate all of the Kind Bars, and half a bag of Kettle Chips is just not going to cut it. Yelp to the rescue! With user-generated, (often hilariously) opinionated reviews for restaurants in almost every city in America, Yelp makes it extremely easy to find a place to grab some grub quickly. The app also has filters for characteristics such as “open now,” “family-friendly,” and “credit cards accepted,” which means everyone will be eating soon.

3) Traffic is nightmare and it’s looking like your not going to make your goal of arriving at your next destination before the sun goes down. Waze can help. The social traffic and GPS app is constantly updating its database with millions of user-generated alerts, so you can avoid bottlenecks or chart a new, traffic-free route.

Viewfinder Tip: doesn’t have a proper app, but it does have a comprehensive list of the yummiest grub around the country.

4) The day has unfolded exactly like you’d hoped. Traffic was a breeze, there have been few complaints from the passenger and back seats, and you’re all one happy family. In fact, the day has gone so well that you forgot to figure out where you’re going to stay tonight. Expedia saves the day. Within just a few minutes on this app you can find and book a hotel in the area, all without getting ripped-off for simply losing yourself in the perfection of the day. 

5) Even though you stopped 15 minutes ago so everyone could go to the bathroom, someone needs to go again. USA Rest Stops offers some relief. In addition to providing a clear, reliable list of upcoming rest stops (with the option to receive notifications), the app also alerts you nearby service plazas and welcome centers. Just don’t bother to say “We’re not stopping again!” because, let’s be honest, you most certainly will.

What are some of your favorite road-tripping apps?

Expedia compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site, such compensation may include travel and other costs.

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Kent and Caanan are self-described fulfillment fanatics who rejiggered life so that every day could be a dream day. They started a virtual consulting business in order to travel deliriously, give back, and make a living from anywhere doing work they love. They most love writing about LGBT getaways, nature-centric adventures, the tech side of travel, globetrotting with purpose, and luxury escapes that aren't fussy.


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