As with all aspects of our daily lives, mobile technology has revolutionized the classic road trip. But with the ability to take the entire Internet with us on the road, it can be hard to know where to turn. Luckily, many app developers have focused on the specific needs of road trips themselves—or at the very least, on the freewheeling spirit that inspires them.
Whether you’re planning every detail of a point-to-point trip or embarking on a spur-of-the-moment adventure, these free mobile apps will help cut back the chaos and make your trip even more of a pleasure:
- Travelmath. This handy travel companion helps answer the perennial question “Are we there yet?” by calculating driving distance and time between two cities, interim stopping points and information on surrounding areas.
- Food Tripping. Why settle for roadside fast food when you can have fresh, healthy and local? This app homes in on local dining options along your route, with special categories for vegan spots, farmers’ markets and more.
- Zagat. What this well-known service lacks in breadth, it more than makes up for in depth, with extensive user-based restaurant and nightspot ratings and reviews for 36 metropolitan areas in the U.S.
- Glympse. Whether you’re traveling solo or just trying to keep a caravan together, Glympse helps keep you safe by alerting key people to your whereabouts. You can even let preset contacts know where you are, and how long it should take you to arrive at your next stop.
- Hotel Tonight. A spontaneous side trip could leave you with nowhere to stay, but this popular app, which serves up last-minute room availability, is perfect if you find yourself in unfamiliar territory. You can’t book until the afternoon of your stay, so this is for the adventurous only.
- Scout. If you’re traveling in more than one vehicle, Scout can be a lifesaver. The app offers voice-activated turn-by-turn directions, alongside a messaging feature to keep everyone up to date on where you’re going, and how to meet up when you get there.
- Songza. Music and the open road are meant for one another. Songza serves up playlists based on mood and occasion, with plenty of road-trip mixes, including classics and family-friendly songs.
- Roadtrippers. This website and mobile app contain information on over 3 million sites of interest to explore when you want to get off the beaten path. Unlike other similar apps, Roadtrippers relies on hand-curated data with photos, pricing and more about extraordinary and offbeat places you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. There’s even a concierge function that generates suggestions of relevant places based on the time of day and your interests.
- Toddler Kids Puzzles Puzzingo. This collection of puzzles is your best bet to keep toddlers from squirming. They’re full of interactivity, animations, and sounds for repeat learning and play, and they help kids develop spatial recognition, matching, tactile and fine-motor skills. Visual and audio cues throughout the apps are also designed to make the games accessible for children with autism, kids in speech therapy and children with special needs.
- Opera Maker. Opera? For kids? Why, yes. This app takes children (recommended for ages 5 and up) on a wonderful adventure into various famous operas and allows them to create one of their very own. Kids can play, sing, create and orchestrate their opera and share the results as a video with friends and family.
- Brainpop Featured Movie. Older kids (ages 8 and up) can watch a different animated movie every day, then test their new knowledge with an interactive quiz. Topics tie in to current events, historical milestones and figures, holidays and more.
Are you heading out on the road soon? Arm yourself with these mobile app companions and you’ll be traveling like a pro.