Road Trips (Part 2): All the Planning Tools & Apps You’ll Need for Your Trip
The open road is calling and you’re itching to get behind the wheel. I know exactly how you feel!
Good news: you’re one step closer to your next (or first) road trip!
In Road Trips (Part 1): How to Plan an Awesome Adventure, I told you what questions to ask yourself as you began your planning.
Now that you’ve (hopefully) asked – and answered – those questions, its time to get down to the nitty-gritty.
There are tons of amazing websites and apps available online to help you before and during your road trip.
Below, I’m sharing some of my favorites with you. These tools will help you transform your road trip from “meh” to epic!
If you’re looking for inspiration for your road trip, these tools are for you. I recently discovered them and can’t wait to try them when I plan my next road trip!
GOOGLE MAPS (Website/App) – If you’re going somewhere, you can access Google Maps online or via the free app. It’s helpful for planning a road trip route since you can add stops to your route, get route option suggestions, find out the time and distance between stops, and adjust the route by moving the route markers. Google Maps also allows you to send your route to others, to save favorite places, and more.
MYSCENICDRIVES.COM (Website) – This website allows you to customize your road trip from start to finish. You are able to add an unlimited number of stops, share on social media, and print or export directions to GPS devices. It also offers cool features like automatically dividing your trip into manageable daily itineraries, to locating EV charging stations, finding hotels and campgrounds, and managing your budget.
ROADTRIPPERS.COM (Website/App) – Roadtrippers can definitely add elements of fun to your trip. It offers unique content such as the wonderful “off the beaten path” places to visit and millions of the world’s most interesting locations. If you want to discover the world around you in an entirely new way, Roadtrippers.com is for you. It is intuitive and easy to use.
If you already know where you want to go, you’re ahead of the game and can use either (or both) of these navigation resources.
GOOGLE MAPS (Website/App) – Once you’ve planned your route using Google Maps or one of the other tools listed above, you can use Google Maps to navigate to your destination(s). If you’re traveling alone or just want to share your route with someone else, Google Maps also allows you to do that. It gives you real-time GPS navigation, traffic, and transit.
WAZE (Website/App) – Waze is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app. One of the main differences between Waze and Google Maps is that is utilizes crowdsourced information to help direct you to the best route option based on current conditions shared by users. It also alerts you about accidents, road hazards, police, speed cameras, and street closings long before you reach them. Waze is available around the world including Costa Rica, Ireland, and South Korea.
GAS, FOOD & ACTIVITIES
AIRBNB EXPERIENCES (Website/App) – Discover and book unique experiences hosted by local experts. You can book in person or online experiences and find activities for large groups. Filters allow you to find the type of experience you want and even the time of day!
GAS BUDDY (Website/App) – Gas Buddy is a great tool for road travel. It helps you find the cheapest gas stations near you. It also features a gas price map to help you scout the area you’re in for the best price available.
GROUPON (Website/App) – Discover fun activities and get huge discounts in your city with Groupon. Check out great deals on things to do from kids activities to nightlife; try out new restaurants, spas, massages and hair salons near you, or plan a trip away from home. I use this app all the time and its enabled me to find new restaurants and activities that I may not have found otherwise. Its great for when you travel, too, as you can find discounts on sightseeing and tours as well.
iEXIT (App) – This app is really cool. Open it while you’re driving on or near any interstate across the country and finds what exits are ahead, what you’ll find at each one – food, gas stations (and gas prices), hotels. How great is that?
Google Maps also lets you search along your route for gas stations, restaurants, and more.
Choosing where you want to stay can be a challenge, especially if you’re on a tight budget. The options presented below go from free (Couchsurfing) to a little pricier (B&Bs) and everything in between. It’s always nice to have options!
AIRBNB (Website/App) – Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to discover and book unique accommodations around the world. “Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 65,000 cities and 191 countries.” You can book a shared, room, a private room, or the entire place and use filters to help you find exactly what you’re looking for. Airbnb is often a more budget-friendly option than a hotel room.
BEDANDBREAKFAST.COM (Website) – For travelers who want a more luxurious lodging experience, BedandBreakfast.com is a good option. They feature 10,000+ properties worldwide and nearly 75,000 rooms, it helps travelers find the perfect B&B by providing detailed descriptions, photos, and more than 250,000 consumer reviews.
COUCHSURFING.COM (Website/App) – Couchsurfing isn’t a new thing; it’s actually a global community of 14 million people in more than 200,000 cities. Hosts share their lives, cities, and homes with their couchsurfing guests. Couchsurfing is the cheapest lodging option of all and is just what it sounds like: you stay with a host and sleep on their couch (or wherever they have extra space) for free. A friend of mine has couchsurfed all over the world and swears by this lodging option. There’s a $20 annual fee but the money you save on lodging will more than pay for that.
HOMEAWAY (Website/App) – Homeaway offers the largest selection of properties for any travel occasion and every budget. They are committed to helping families and friends find a perfect vacation rental to create unforgettable travel experiences together.
HOSTELWORLD.COM (Website/App) – Hostelworld is the leading global hostel-booking resource for budget-conscious travelers seeking adventure and a social travel experience. Hostelworld operates in 19 different languages, has over 8 million reviews across 33,000 properties in 170+ countries. Options range from shared group rooms (the least expensive option) to private rooms (the most expensive option).
HOTELS.COM (Website/App) – Hotels.com is a well-known online accommodation booking website. It features properties ranging from international chains and all-inclusive resorts to local favorites and bed & breakfasts, together with all the information needed to book the perfect stay. You can also earn free nights after you book a specified number of stays.
KOA CAMPGROUNDS (Website/App) – One of the most well-known names in camping, KOA campgrounds are the perfect oases after a long day on the road. They can be found across North America and offer primitive campsites for tent campers, cabins for those who want more of a hotel-like experience, and long pull-through sites for travelers with RVs. Most KOAs also offer amenities including a general store/gift shop and an outdoor swimming pool.
VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) (Website/App) – VRBO offers the largest selection of properties for any travel occasion and every budget. They are committed to helping families and friends find a perfect vacation rental to create unforgettable travel experiences together.
On my road trip through North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia that I mentioned in my previous post, I chose a variety of lodging options: I stayed at a friend’s house, a few hotels, and an Airbnb. That allowed me to mix things up a bit.
The above tools should enable you to finalize the plans for your road trip.
So, are you getting excited about the adventure you have waiting for you? I am and I can’t wait to hear about them!
Do you use any of these websites or apps already?
If so, what are your favorites?
Are there any that aren’t on the list that you like?
Thanks for the tip about the MyScenicDrives.com website! It was a huge help in planning my road trip from Texas to New Jersey! I don’t think I could have planned it so well otherwise! I appreciate your help 🙂
Hey, Liana. I’m so happy to hear that you found a good resource for planning out your road trip. With the length of your drive, I know that pre-planning was crucial to both getting there on schedule as well as not driving so much that you were overtired. Glad it worked out.
Great tips, ATB! Thanks for sharing.
Thanks! Hope you found something helpful. Don’t miss Part 3 of this 3-part series.