Hitting the road? Take apps along to spice up your trip
It's July, which means it's time to hit the road.
Which means it's time to hit the apps that make hitting the road easier, and more of an adventure.
Today's road warrior has an arsenal of tech tools at his or her disposal, a plethora of personal technologies. They range from the cutting-edge mobile app that takes you to local chefs' hangouts, to a device that assists your stargazing while camped in the middle of the Nevada desert, or websites tricked out with the latest guides for finding micro-adventures on the nation's blue highways. It's all there. Here's a look at a few ways to enhance and streamline your summer road trips with digital tools.
Plotting your itinerary
Roadtrippers: This app is a one-stop shop for trip planning. You build your itinerary and map on the associated website, roadtrippers.com, then sync the information to your phone and proceed, gleaning tips along the way. You can choose between burgers and barbecue over here, or opt to visit this museum over there and perhaps check out that bluegrass festival 30 miles down the road. You can share your itinerary with travel buddies, who add their own ideas, working from their own computers. Finally, you can download your itinerary as a PDF on your phone just in case you run into some gorgeously isolated stretch of roadway without cellphone coverage.
The first information Roadtrippers gives you the instant you enter a destination is the trip's distance, the estimated cost of gas and the traveling time. Once you're in motion, follow Roadtrippers to offbeat destinations along the back roads near where you're traveling. Aside from food and drink, cultural attractions and nightlife with lots of subdivisions within each category Roadtrippers directs you to outdoor recreation destinations, vacation rentals, camping sites, shopping and more. It also rates its suggestions, aggregating responses from users and from across the web. (The app is $9.95, iOS.)
AllStays Camp and RV: Again, browse through information on the website or on your phone, where you can store the map you create keeping you on track without the internet while driving. Among other features, the site lets you tailor your camping destinations: Maybe you want to stay at independently owned campsites that are pet-friendly and have laundry facilities and cost less than $35 a night near Denver.
AllStays filters your specifications and gives you the various possibilities, along with photos of the campsites. The app points you around bridge clearances and steep road grades not only to those camping sites, but to Costcos and Walmarts that allow overnight parking. All in all, it's about spur-of-the-moment travel, designed to let you wander and then look for a place an hour or three down the road. And if you subscribe to AllStays Pro ($29.95 a year), the high-end version of the website, you can add features including ghost towns and RV washes, while slicing and dicing all the other information in thousands of ways. (The app is $9.95, iOS.)
Google Trips: This, too, lets you lay out your itinerary, plotting out your trip point-by-point on a map and giving you the travel time to each location. In the event of a Wi-Fi crash, the itinerary is saved: phone numbers, reservations, directions to Airbnbs, not to mention your friends' restaurant recommendations. And if you're combining a family road trip with flights, car rentals and hotel stays, all that information will be bundled together here, as well. (The app is free, iOS and Android.)
Refining your adventures
ChefsFeed: This one points you toward the best restaurants in 150 towns and cities around the nation. It's way more sophisticated than Yelp, as all the recommendations come from highly regarded chefs they're sending you to where they like to eat outside their own kitchens. This app is very strong on California recommendations, so, listen up, all you foodie road warriors it's time to cross the Golden Gate, while top chefs curate your eating stops. (Free, iOS and Android.)