Whether you're planning a coast-to-coast adventure or a multi-state mini trip, there are smart phone apps that will help you with your travels. Consider these downloads to get the most out of your USA road trip.
When fatigue sets in on a road trip, you often just want to drive as far as you can to get to the next town and call it a night so you can start fresh the next day. The free Hotels.com app available in the iTunes app store, the Android Market, and for Windows phones lets you look up and reserve hotels, even last-minute ones. Hotels.com currently has listings for 140,000 properties and the app lets you store reservations, track rewards points, and save hotels in a favorites list for later browsing.
Smart phone apps have helped to give everyone the tools to take beautiful photography. The Pano app, available for Android, iOS, and Windows Phones, lets you take panoramic shots with ease. Indeed, this app is handy for those traveling in the Southwest, where the endless vistas demand more than just a snapshot. Another winner in this category is the 360 Panorama app, available for iPhone and Android.
These apps are priced between $0.99 and $1.99, as of this writing.
You can download apps for Groupon, Living Social, and other deal sites, or you can download Bitehunter, which aggregates daily deals from all the deal sites and provides up-to-the-minute details on discounts and happy hours. Bitehunter is free and available in the iTunes app store.
If you're less motivated by budget concerns and more interested in conquering a food craving while road-tripping, Foodspotting is an excellent app. Foodspotting users across the country upload photos of their most memorable meals and dishes, creating a veritable mobile scrapbook of dining ideas. The service also includes user-compiled lists, perfect if you roll into a large city and want to know where to get the best burger or where to go for dim sum. Foodspotting is free and available for iPhone, Blackberry, Android, and Windows phones.
Tripit is a travel planning and itinerary organizing app typically more by frequent fliers. But road trippers can user the Tripit app and/or website to plan a trip, complete with hotel, dining, and shopping stops. Social components in Tripit let you share your travel agenda to Facebook or with other friends on Tripit. And, of course, you can save your trips in the Tripit app for future browsing. The Tripit app is free and available for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and Windows.
A GPS (global positioning system) is a must for many drivers, especially for road trips. If you don't have a stand-alone GPS device there are several apps that are worthy of a download. CoPilot Live is one of the highest-rated GPS apps and includes routes, turn-by-turn navigation, speed limit warnings, traffic outlook, and - most importantly - off-line maps so you can get directions when you're in a zone with a weak cell phone signal. The app ranges in price from $3.99 to $24.99 (standard to premium versions) and there are in-app add-ons that you can purchase on the fly (e.g., 3-D routes, gas prices, etc.). Purchase the USA or North America CoPilot Live for iPhone, iPad, or Android.
A road trip across the USA sometimes involves countless hours of driving at night in the middle of nowhere. Or, it could mean a camping trip under the stars. Both of these scenarios create perfect conditions for usage of the GoSkyWatch Planetarium app, an easy-to-use astronomy app that lets you point your phone at the sky and discover which stars, planets, and constellations are above you. GoSkyWatch Planetarium is available for iPhone and iPad for approximately $3.99.
What's a road trip without stops at the quirky attractions along the way? Roadside America's app uses your phone's GPS to locate nearby oddities, statues, museums, but also lets you search and plan your visit to other ones. There are field reports for hundreds of attractions, organized by state, city, and category. Perhaps one of the coolest extras in the app is the "Sunset Alert," which alerts travelers to the last daytime photo opportunity on their chosen route. Roadside America is available for iPhone for $2.99 and includes access to one of seven North America regions. Pay $5.99 to unlock all regions and more than 7,000 attraction listings. It's a small price to pay for a little fun.
As this gas price heat map from GasBuddy.com indicates, gas prices across the United States fluctuate by as much as a $1 per gallon. The free Gas Buddy app lets you use the knowledge of the heat map and GasBuddy.com volunteers to find the cheapest gas while on the go. Gas Buddy is available for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry.