10 Apps to Download For Your Summer Travels
More travelers hit the road on Memorial Day than nearly any other holiday weekend, so do yourself a favor and get properly equipped for the voyages that await this summer. These apps will ensure that you don’t get bored, hungry, or stuck in traffic (for too long, anyway).
Know your options: Rome2rio
If you’re not sure whether or not you’d like to drive, plug in your points of origin and destination, and this innovative travel planner will aggregate every possible method of transportation—flights, trains, local buses, and even taxis—for how to get there. Better yet, it also offers time estimates (and prices) for each leg of your journey. Free; iOS; rome2rio.com.
Get a last-minute room: Booking Now and Hotel Tonight
Especially on long drives, you may decide to stop spontaneously in that cute town you’re passing through—and even stay the night. These last-minute hotel-booking apps let you be impulsive about such decisions. Use the former to find what’s absolutely closest to you or the latter to find “stylish,” “hip,” or “luxe” rooms in the surrounding area—it’s better in cities than in the ‘burbs. Free; Android, iOS; booking.com and hoteltonight.com.
Stay entertained: Amazon Instant Video
The superstore’s Netflix-like service, free for anyone with a subscription to Amazon Prime, will keep you busy on long hauls (or long stints in the passenger seat). Just make sure to download your movies and TV shows before you leave if you’re heading anywhere without a stable Internet connection. Free; Android, iOS.
Skip the rental car counter: Relay Rides
Like an Airbnb for wheels, this service lets you rent privately owned vehicles, often more affordably than traditional rentals (insurance is equally fair-priced). Cars are available at 300 airports and most major U.S. cities (except New York City, notably); if you’re lucky, you might find fun options, such as a new Fiat 500 or a vintage Mercedes-Benz. Free; Android, iOS.
Navigate the Roads: Google Maps
Google Maps has become the best navigation app around, allowing you to pull up addresses with voice commands and turn-by-turn directions with a single tap. Real-time traffic info is now better than ever; this week, Google added features that forecast traffic on your route before you leave, and explain why you’re being re-routed when an accident or bottleneck lies ahead. Not driving? Straphangers can use the app to see the last train departure of the day, and bikers can use it to find routes that won’t be too steep. There’s not much this smart app can’t do. Free; Android, iOS.
Don't Get Caught in the Rain: Dark Sky
T+L editors are obsessed with this highly-detailed weather app, which offers hyper-local forecasts. Instead of telling you if it’s going to rain later this afternoon, it tells you that the storm will hit in exactly 22 minutes—with surprising accuracy. $3.99; iOS.
Plan Your Pit Stops: Roadside America
Looking to break up your drive? Perhaps you’d like to see Pittsburgh’s Robot Hall of Fame, or the world’s largest collection of teapots, in Trenton, Tennessee. This app helps you find those types of quirky attractions along your route, while also acting as a guide to their many idiosyncrasies—10,000 venues in all. $2.99; iOS.
Share Your Location: Glympse
There’s nothing worse than the feeling of being late and stuck in traffic. This app helps mitigate that (seemingly unavoidable) evil of holiday travel without a safety breach: it automatically relays your GPS location to family and friends for select windows of time, giving them a real-time ETA of your progress. Free; Android, iOS.
Improvise A Playlist: Tune In Radio
You’re unlikely to get bored listening to the app’s 100,000-plus radio stations from all over the world, but if you do, Tune In also offers streaming access to an inexhaustible number of concerts, podcasts, and talk shows on a clean, user-friendly interface. From NPR news updates to local traffic alerts and sports scores, this all-purpose radio app delivers in spades. Free; Android, iOS.
Find a Place to Eat: Yelp
Despite some outdated listings, Yelp is still the fastest way to pinpoint the nearest ATM, pizzeria, market, or coffee shop in more than 30 countries from Austria to New Zealand. Thanks to the acquisition of Seat Me, users can even make restaurant reservations straight from the site or app. Free; Android, iOS.
Nikki Ekstein is an associate editor at T+L. Follow her on Twitter @nikkiekstein.