Download these apps before your next road trip

Thinking of taking a road trip? Be sure to load up our picks for the best car travel apps. Whether you’re out of gas, looking for something to see along the way, or want to avoid speed traps or traffic, there’s an app to help. Of course, remember to stay safe, don’t try to use your phone while driving, although the app is very handy.

Where to stop for the most part?

Looking for a bite to eat? Toilets ? WiFi? Something to see along the way? There are apps to help you in all of these situations.

If you are traveling on a major highway, iExit (free in the App Store and Google Play) is a great resource for amenities available on upcoming releases. It contains information on restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, hospitals, hotels and more. Once the app finds you on a freeway, it shows you upcoming exits with icons representing amenities and how far each exit is. Then for each service you can see how far away on your route you need to go, which is much better than the icons on highway signs. If you are planning a trip, you can select a highway to plan your stops.

Traffic, road hazards and speed traps

No one likes being stuck in traffic or getting a ticket, so use an app to be alerted before they get stuck. No one likes being stuck in traffic or getting a ticket, so use an app to be alerted before they get stuck. For a free traffic option, our choice is Google maps (Free on the App Store, preloaded on Android devices). Not only does it show you the fastest route maps when you start up, but it also alerts you when a faster route becomes available.

If you usually use a radar detector, you will appreciate Waze (Free on App Store and Google Play). This traffic app uses crowdsourced data to find a faster route for your trip, but alerts provided by other users also include speed traps and red light cameras. With a large user base, this app is as good as real-time traffic reports.

Where to stay

If you don’t like being locked in a particular hotel or city during your trip, you can book your room while you’re on the road. Trip Advisor (free in App Store and Google Play) allows you to search for hotels by city or zip code. You can also find the hotels closest to your current location. The app pulls the top-ranked hotels up first, lets you check rates and tells you how many kilometers away they are or shows them on a map relative to your location.

Where to eat ?

After a long day of driving the open road, it’s all too easy to pull over on the freeway at the first sight of a familiar fast food sign. But you miss out on all the great little places that offer authentic and healthy regional food. It’s there that Yelp intervenes (free in the App Store and Google Play). Not only does it point you to local restaurants, it also lists microbreweries, organic cafes, and farmers’ markets.

If you’ve found the perfect spot but need a reservation, OpenTable (Free in App Store and Google Play) is the place to go. Using their website or the OpenTable app, you can search for local restaurants with free tables when you plan on stopping to eat. If you know where you want to eat, you can search for a specific restaurant, but you can also browse by location, cuisine type, price, and time. If outdoor seating is available, you can usually choose to reserve an outdoor table.

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