Car travel apps for iphone


— Spring breaks are starting up across the country, which means it’s the beginning of road trip season.
In “Travels with Charley: In Search of America,” one of literature’s most famous road trips, John Steinbeck wrote, “We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”
In the spirit of Steinbeck’s philosophy on travel, we encourage you to take a road trip with no planning whatsoever, so that the journey can unfold without the interference of plans or expectation.
Here are a few apps that you can download on your phone that will allow you to go on a trip at a moment’s notice, with nothing more than a bag of clothes, a full tank of gas and a healthy dose of wanderlust.

No need to burn dozens of CDs or deliberate over the perfect iPod playlist. With Spotify, you have an infinite jukebox at your fingertips. Driving through the deserts of the Southwest, try “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” soundtrack. Cue up some Louis Armstrong on the way to Chicago. Let Sinatra pump you up for a weekend in Sin City.
You can search as you go, make playlists beforehand, or snag other Spotify members’ playlists. In order to listen to Spotify on your iPhone, you have to pay a monthly fee. But remember, that means never buying or pirating an album again.
Available on Apple products and Android. The app is free but the premium service costs $9.99 per month

Roadside America

You can get your kitsch on Route 66 with the aid of this app. After all, it’s not a road trip without at least one detour to a bizarre roadside attraction. Make sure you don’t miss out on a slice of Americana pie by mapping out all the offbeat tourists traps on your route. Let’s face it, you’d be devastated if you discovered you had passed right by the world’s largest ball of twine, the world’s largest garden gnome or the world’s largest shoe house.
Available on Apple products. $2.99 for permanent access to one region, $1.99 for temporary access to one region, $5.99 for all regions.


Today it would probably cost you between $300 and $600 to drive from Chicago to Los Angeles on Route 66. You can shoot for the lower end of that range by using this app to seek out the cheapest gas once the fuel gauge needle starts getting cozy with the E.
Available free on Apple products and Android.

Sometimes the best way to pass the time or enhance the experience is with a good audio book. And as much fun as it can be to comb the truck stop racks for the most ridiculous science fiction book on tape you can find, you’d probably prefer to catch up on your reading list.
Or perhaps a little travel writing will get you in the mood: “Travels with Charley,” Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” or Robert M. Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” are sure to hit the spot.

License Plate Travel Game

A part of the exhilaration of road trips is reliving the family vacation experience, minus the family (if possible). Nothing takes you back to your childhood in the backseat quite like road games. The incessant punching of Slug Bug can lower morale, but you can’t go wrong with the license plate game.
With this app, you can play continuously throughout your trip, as the app logs all your finds and keeps score — one point for plates already found and two for new plates.
Available for $0.99 on Apple products and free on Android.

While your road atlas collects dust in the car-door bin, your kids in the back seat are ignoring the DVD player and tapping away at their tablets and smartphones.
Mobile devices have become inseparable companions for millions of Americans hitting the road this year for summer vacation. In just a few years, it’s become unfathomable to start a trip without essential smartphone tools — GPS maps, weather updates, camera, Yelp — at your fingertips.
The travel category has remained popular among app developers, and choices for handy travel apps have widened in recent years. They range from money savers like GasBuddy to fun time-killers that digitize the nostalgic road games we played in our childhood (spotting license plates, road sign bingo).
Here are some apps to consider this summer before heading out the door. Don’t forget to pack a car phone charger. Running apps, particularly GPS, will drain the battery more quickly.
(free; available on iOS, Android,
BlackBerry, Windows Phone)
Gas Buddy is a mobile version of the website, which shows nearby gas stations and current prices that are updated by users. The app lets you sort stations based on your current location.
While it’s not worth driving several miles to save a dollar or two at a cheaper gas station, the app can be helpful on long car trips as you cruise along the highway. Instead of filling up in Town A, drive farther and exit a few miles down the road to save. Prices, particularly in densely populated areas, are generally accurate because of its large base of fans.
($2.99; available on iOS)
Serendipitous discoveries are often the most memorable moments of a road trip. This app makes finding offbeat local treasures a little less serendipitous. By selecting a U.S. region, say Northeast, users can unlock a list of odd and unique places not likely found in guidebooks, such as the scary stairway from the movie The Exorcist in Washington, D.C., or the parking garage in Arlington, Va., where journalist Bob Woodward met his source, Deep Throat.
The app says it contains 7,800 such attractions. But you have access to only one region for $2.99. It divides the U.S. into six regions, and you’ll have to pay more for the rest.
(free; available on Android)
iOnRoad is a distracted-driver prevention app that uses the phone’s built-in camera, GPS, accelerometer and gyroscope to display your car’s position in relation to the driving lane and the car directly in front.
Once mounted below the rear-view mirror, the phone’s app emits an audiovisual alert — as pre-set by the driver — if your car gets too close to the car in front or swerves from the lane. As with other driving-aid apps, it should be used as a supplement for safe driving, not as the sole guide.
($1.99; available on iOS)
The app features more than 40 colorful road-trip-themed bingo squares, including road signs, animals, vehicles, street marks and mountains.
It’s good for killing a couple of hours with toddlers, but not likely to retain the attention of older kids for long. The Android Market has similar games.
(99 cents; available on iOS)
While a turn-by-turn, voice-guided GPS device is a nice tool to have in your travel arsenal, not everyone can afford to spend $150 for yet another device. Meanwhile, TomTom, which makes a GPS device, sells its map software for $37 as an app.
Skobbler’s GPS Nav 2, on the other hand, is a low-cost alternative that can handle most navigation functions, including a “3-D” map and voice instructions on where and when to turn. It lacks the bells and whistles of other expensive GPS devices and apps, and its lists of nearby restaurants and other points of interests are limited.
But if a simple navigation guide for directions from Point A to B is all you’re after, this app is sufficient. But beware that on our trial run, it was often inaccurate on smaller streets.

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