It’s July, which means it’s time to hit the road.
Which means it’s time to hit the apps that make hitting the road easier, and more of an adventure.Today’s road warrior has an arsenal of tech tools at his or her disposal, a plethora of personal technologies. They range from the cutting-edge mobile app that takes you to local chefs’ hangouts, to a device that assists your stargazing while camped in the middle of the Nevada desert, or websites tricked out with the latest guides for finding micro-adventures on the nation’s blue highways. It’s all there.
Yes, you can head out with Google Maps or Apple Maps and get the job done. But here’s a look at a few other ways to enhance and streamline your summer road trips with digital tools.
Plotting your itinerary
Roadtrippers: This app is a one-stop shop for trip planning. You build your itinerary and map on the associated website, roadtrippers.com, then sync the information to your phone and proceed, gleaning tips along the way. You can choose between burgers and barbecue over here, or opt to visit this museum over there and perhaps check out that bluegrass festival 30 miles down the road. You can share your itinerary with travel buddies, who add their own ideas, working from their own computers. Finally, you can download your itinerary as a PDF on your phone — just in case you run into some gorgeously isolated stretch of roadway without cellphone coverage.
The first information Roadtrippers gives you — the instant you enter a destination — is the trip’s distance, the estimated cost of gas and the traveling time. Once you’re in motion, follow Roadtrippers to offbeat destinations along the back roads near where you’re traveling. Aside from food and drink, cultural attractions and nightlife — with lots of subdivisions within each category — Roadtrippers directs you to outdoor recreation destinations, vacation rentals, camping sites, shopping and more. It also rates its suggestions, aggregating responses from users and from across the web.
In a hypothetical jaunt, I plotted a 410-mile trip from Santa Cruz, where I live, to Ashland, Ore., the mecca for Shakespearean theater. Figuring on hot weather, I planned an ice cream stop in Chico (Schubert’s Ice Cream and Candy), a culture stop at my mid-point in Red Bluff (art galleries, a Victorian house tour), and a last-gasp cup of coffee in Yreka (Golden Rush Espresso), 38 miles from my destination. (The app is free, iOS and Android.)
AllStays Camp and RV: Again, browse through information on the website or on your phone, where you can store the map you create — keeping you on track without the internet while driving. Among other features, the site lets you tailor your camping destinations: Maybe you want to stay at independently owned campsites that are pet-friendly and have laundry facilities and cost less than $35 a night near Denver. AllStays filters your specifications and gives you the various possibilities, along with photos of the campsites. The app points you around bridge clearances and steep road grades not only to those camping sites, but to Costcos and Walmarts that allow overnight parking. All in all, it’s about spur-of-the-moment travel, designed to let you wander and then look for a place an hour or three down the road. And if you subscribe to AllStays Pro ($29.95 a year), the high-end version of the website, you can add features including ghost towns and RV washes, while slicing and dicing all the other information in thousands of ways. (The app is $9.95, iOS.)
Google Trips: This, too, lets you lay out your itinerary, plotting out your trip point-by-point on a map and giving you the travel time to each location. In the event of a Wi-Fi crash, the itinerary is saved: phone numbers, reservations, directions to Airbnbs, not to mention your friends’ restaurant recommendations. And if you’re combining a family road trip with flights, car rentals and hotel stays, all that information will be bundled together here, as well.
Say you’re passing through Chicago, Kansas City or Dallas. The app will hook you into emergency services (e.g. the names and addresses of hospitals); provide detailed information on public transportation; and guide you to food and drink with an overview of local cuisine and top eating spots, while mapping your path from one point of interest to the next. You’re covered. (The app is free, iOS and Android.)
Refining your adventures
ChefsFeed: This one points you toward the best restaurants in 150 towns and cities around the nation. It’s way more sophisticated than Yelp, as all the recommendations come from highly regarded chefs — they’re sending you to where they like to eat outside their own kitchens. This app is very strong on California recommendations, so, listen up, all you foodie road warriors — it’s time to cross the Golden Gate, while top chefs curate your eating stops.
I sampled some of ChefsFeed’s recommendations heading north toward Oregon. My hypothetical trip — which I intend soon to make real — includes a stop at Fish in Sausalito for a Dungeness crab roll, buttery and decadent on a torpedo roll; barbecued oysters with garlic butter (and a cold beer) at the Marshall Store in Marin County on Tomales Bay; and (yes, I’m having trouble leaving the region) a smoked duck breast sandwich at Sunflower Café in Sonoma. ChefsFeed doesn’t offer much in the way of rural food discoveries, so I’ll have to fill in my eating gaps with other apps and intuition. But when I hit Eugene, Ore., there’s always a classic burger — a “juicy mess,” according to one of ChefsFeed’s curating chefs — at Killer Burger, followed two hours later by a $6 meal of rice, soup, roasted chicken, cucumber and cilantro with a savory sauce at Khao Man Gai in downtown Portland. (Free, iOS and Android.)
Sky Guide: This app gives you an augmented reality view of the night sky as a complement to your stargazing — this is what you should take along on that Nevada desert excursion. Say you’re looking at a bright point on the horizon and want to identify it. Just point your phone at that portion of the sky, and you will be shown a labeled map of what you are observing: that bright spot on the horizon — as well as planets, stars, constellations, galaxies. Zoom in and out for a better view of the virtual sky on your phone, then look up and match what you’re seeing to the actual phenomena. ($2.99, iOS.)
Field Trip: Just turn on this app and let it tell you what’s near you — bars, shops, restaurants, movies, museums, places of architectural interest and historical sites. Your phone becomes your personal guide, filling you in on history trivia or directing you to the coolest new food truck in the neighborhood. This is a classy production — the fonts and designs are reminiscent of a vintage travel journal. (Free, iOS and Android.)
For the family’s in-car entertainment: Bring along digital versions of board games, including Risk, Monopoly and Bingo. (Browse the app store to find them; there are lots of variations, some free, most inexpensive.)
To keep all your devices running, bring a battery pack; a plug splitter; and a power inverter to change your car’s direct current into the alternating current that runs a laptop or coffee maker.
Gas Buddy: This app gets you to the cheapest, nearby gas pump when you’re running low and starting to panic. (Free, iOS and Android.)
And don’t hit the road without an old-school Rand McNally Road Atlas — printed on paper. It’s good for a backup or a change of pace; after days of squinting at your phone, try squinting at an old-fashioned map.
Digital resources for road trips
roadtrippers.com: A one-stop shop for trip planning.
allstays.com: Lets you tailor your camping destinations.
Google Trips: get.google.com/trips Lets you lay out your itinerary, plotting out your trip point-by-point on a map and giving you travel times.
chefsfeed.com: Points you toward the best restaurants in 150 towns and cities around the nation.
Sky Guide: itunes.apple.com/us/app/sky-guide-view-stars-night-or-day/id576588894?mt=8 Gives you an augmented reality view of the night sky as a complement to your stargazing.
fieldtripper.com: Find out what’s near you — bars, shops, restaurants, movies, museums, places of architectural interest and historical sites.
gasbuddy.com: Gets you to the cheapest, nearby gas pump when you’re running low.
Published at Thu, 29 Jun 2017 14:00:52 +0000