A road trip can be fantastic fun, and you probably won’t be surprised to learn that your smartphone can be really helpful along the way. I’m not just suggesting that you put it to the usual purposes when travelling, like keeping in contact with friends and family and sharing photos from your trip to Facebook and Twitter. I’m looking at a much bigger picture than that…
It’s worth remembering that a road trip has various implications that wouldn’t apply during more casual travel. You might not be able to plan ahead in quite as much detail as would be possible with other types of travel. Therefore, you would have to largely devise your itinerary as you go along. PCMag writer Jill Duffy explains that “as much as I love to plan where I’m going to eat during any vacation, mapping out every meal along the way is usually impractical.”
Here are five ways in which your handset can help you to deal with the unpredictable nature of a lengthy road trip. Your device could help you turn that journey from daunting to thrilling.
Keep you occupied with music
A long road trip will, needless to say, involve a lot of travelling. However, there could occasionally be times when you are stuck in a rut and have to spend significant stretches of time in a car that doesn’t make much movement too quickly. A spot of bad weather could put you in this situation.
Hence, you will want to find something to occupy yourself with at times when even the scenery might struggle to keep you interested. Thankfully, you can probably already listen to lots of exciting music on your phone – whether from a stored library of songs or a streaming service like Spotify or Apple Music. Those services even let users listen to music where a data connection is absent.
Keep track of where you are with a mapping app
Why fumble around trying to unravel a paper map when, these days, you can look over a digital map wonderfully intuitively on your little gadget? That map is also probably more up to date than any paper map that you have at close hand.
There’s a good choice of mapping apps, though perhaps the two best-known are Google Maps and Apple Maps. iPhones are the only smartphones on which you can use the latter, but Google Maps is free to download on both iPhones and Android smartphones.
Which mapping app you choose for routine use is ultimately your decision. However, writing anecdotally here, I would most recommend Google Maps for now. Apple Maps has improved by leaps and bounds since its debut in 2012 but, in my experience, Google Maps generally seems more accurate, making it probably the best choice in a pinch.
Let you book a last-minute hotel with HotelTonight
Typically, when travelling, you would book hotel rooms well in advance. However, that’s not quite so practical when it’s a road trip that you are taking. You might not have a concrete idea of which towns and cities you should be in and when. This can be problematic because, by the time you do form a good idea, all of the good hotels in those places could be fully booked up.
To help prevent this scenario arising, you could install the HotelTonight app on your iPhone or Android device. This app will show you last-minute deals for hotels that have slashed their prices. And, yes, you could book a room for use as soon as the night after you make the booking. The app also supports the mobile payment services Apple Pay and Android Pay for quick in-app booking.
Enable you to research attractions with TripAdvisor
TripAdvisor, whether accessed through the web or an app, is so packed with useful information about various attractions, eateries, hotels and more that it can feel like a nomad’s encyclopedia. However, the TripAdvisor mobile app has one especially big advantage for when you are on the go: it lets you freely download, for over 300 cities, maps and reviews for offline perusal.
This means that you can look up vital information about these cities as you need it but without incurring expensive charges for cellular data. Meanwhile, the app’s rather self-explanatory Near Me Now feature lets you learn about places near where you happen to be at the time.
Help you find people who can expertly check your car
Should you want to have your vehicle expertly checked during your road trip, your smartphone could be your portal for reaching people who can provide such checking. By way of example, if you were travelling in or near Wiltshire in southern England, you could visit the website of Wiltshire Tyres, a company that can check to see if a vehicle needs wheel realignment in Salisbury or close by.