It’s our inalienable right as citizens of the modern world to take a vacation or a holiday, right? Well, instead of packing your whole family off to an all-inclusive Club Med vacation or Disney cruise, how about taking on one of the most time-honored summer vacation traditions, the road-trip. Long drives through scenic countryside with loving families and family pets are some of the best memories we all have, right? Right?
Well, at least we have iOS devices with us these days to both combat boredom and make sure we arrive where we want to. Here’s a veritable cornucopia of apps and ideas for road-tripping this summer, iOS-style.
Teach The Kids Classic Car Games On Summer Road-Trips
So, you’ve got that big road-trip planned this summer, right? Got everything packed, maps apps at hand, ready to see the world from the point of view of your car, up close and personal in a way jet travel will never be. Pile in the dog and the kids and hit the road!
Of course, once the initial excitement wears off somewhere down the road, the kids are gonna get whiney. Instead of numbing them out with cartoons or video games, how about a bunch of classic car games? Of course you can use your iOS device! Here are a few fun apps that will teach the whole family some great ways to stay interested in the world outside the windows while staving off boredom.
Road Trip Fun is less a game app and more a car-game discovery app, with almost 30 different games you and your family can use to while away the long hours of auto travel. Launching the app brings you to a list of roat-trip games like 20 Questions, Spelling Bee, Road Trip Math, A is for Armadillo, and our family’s all time favorite, I Spy.
The app itself isn’t much to look at, but it’s worth the $0.99 to have all of these in one place to help you remember ones you haven’t played since you were a kid yourself.
SlugBug Roadtrip brings the car game classic to the iOS generation. Launch this $1.99 app once downloaded and add player names and photos for up to four SlugBuggers. You can then set whether to have music and how long the game will last. You get different points for different Bugs found, one point for modern Bugs, two for classic Bugs, and 5 for a padiddle Bug (one that’s missing a headlight). This one’s great fun and easy on the eyes.
Finally, where would a good road-trip be without a license plate game? State Plate Bingo! is a great way to track all those license plates you find along the way. Launch the game, then tap on the state of the licence plates you see along the highways and byways of your automobile vacation. Tap on the My Plates button to see all the license plates you’ve collected. If more than one family member has a copy of the app, it’s time for some competition for the most states found in a day, or who can get to 10, 20, 50 states first. Great family fun, right in the car, yeah?
Use These Apps To Road-Trip With Even Less Planning
Planning, sheesh, who needs it? Maybe you’re young, fancy free, and willing to take a risk on things like hotels and fuel being available when you get there? Maybe you’re just taking a zen-like trip in your car, and planning really messes with your mojo. Either way, there are apps for that, as you’ll quickly see.
HotelsByMe is an app that will help you find that last minute place to lay your head when you roll into town much later than you anticipated, or when you just can’t drive much longer and need to find a place to park and sleep. HotelsByMe lets you view a list of hotels by location or landmarks, sort by price or star rating, and even filter by the type of amenities the hotels nearby are offering. There’s even a 24/7 call center for booking snafus and customer support should you get stuck. It’s a universal app for the very nice price of free, so you don’t have much to lose if it works. Via IntoMobile
Another app that might help you with your plan-less travel is Cheap Gas! Heck, it’s an app that could probably help us all regardless of our organization or planning abilities. Cheap Gas! uses location data from your iPhone to help you find nearby gas stations, sorting by distance, or price. It uses the GasBuddy.com website to, ahem, fuel the data it returns to you, and allows you to add info on gas stations you visit that aren’t already there. Once it finds the data, it will help you get there with routing information as well. For a free app, it certainly sounds pretty nice. Via IntoMobile
I’m a big fan of just typing a place into the Maps app on my iPhone, like “coffee shop” and finding what’s nearby. However, that does take a certain amount of tapping and typing and such. Map Buddy helps you do the same thing, only with less time and effort, and that can’t be a bad thing. Downloading this app, currently on sale for $0.99, will let you find the nearest location using pre-defined lists in the app itself. You can, when you feel like doing a little pre-trip effort, customize the lists, add new ones, and even organize the locations into categories. Cool feature? It even works with an iPod touch if you’re in a metropolitan area with Wi-Fi in some areas of the US, Europe and Japan. Nice! Via Mashable
Road-Trip Off The Beaten Path
Road-trips are tons of fun, but it’s easy to forget that the journey itself is just as important as the destination. Sure, you may be driving across the country to head to a resort or amusement park, but there’s fun to be had along the way as well.
Here are three apps that will help you get off the highway and deeper into the joys of traveling the road this summer.
According to the iTunes app description, Roadside America will make sure you “never miss another giant twine ball, crazy museum or hilarious statue.” This is a neat looking app that will give you one of seven “oddity-rich” US or Canadian regions, with an option to unlock all regions available for in-app purchase. You can search by location, zip code, address, city, or attraction name, and then filter with over 70 categories, like Atomic, Music, Celebrities, and more. The app hooks into RoadsideAmerica.com and provides editorial commentary and ratings on the various oddball places along your route.
Rest Stops Plus seems like an ideal companion if you’re heading down the open road on the United States or Canadian highway system, at least. It has over 4,000 places in its database: turn outs, scenic vista stops, rest areas, etc. You can filter the list of available stops by amenities like picnic tables, accessible parking, restrooms, and even travel direction (only northbound stops, for example) to make sure you’re getting what you need.
Wouldn’t it be cool if you knew what was at the next exit off the highway? I always end up seeing the signs for places I want to stop AFTER I’ve wooshed by the actual exit for them. That problem is solved with iExit, an app that tells you what’s coming up at the next exit, in real time. It look spretty slick, and it’ll make sure you don’t miss things you want to see rather than having to settle for things you happen upon when you drop off the interstate.
Use These Map-Enabled Apps To Make Your Road-Trip Go Smoothly
Gone are the days of folding and unfolding huge maps that you get from the gas station or the Automobile Club, what with GPS, Maps apps, and the like. Using the built-in Maps app is a great way to get where you need to go, but what if you want to take your navigation to the next level? What if you need to make sure you don’t get a speeding ticket? What if you want to get your kids excited about the National Park you’re all going to see? Maps app won’t do any of that justice. Here are three apps that will, though.
Turn by turn navigation is really the best way to get around, especially when road-tripping through unfamiliar cities and towns. There are a ton of apps out there, but why spend all the cash on those when you only need it for one trip? AT&T’s own navigation app, AT&T Navigator, is a free download, and will simply add a $10 to your AT&T bill, saving the hassle of signing up for another service. When you’re not gadding about the country, you simply turn off the feature, and don’t have to pay another cent.
Speeding tickets are kind of a bummer. It’s hard not to speed, though, when you’re jamming along the highway, cranking the tunes, headed for who knows where far away from here. Luckily, Trapster is here to help you avoid those speed traps along the way. The app will alert you when there are road hazards ahead of you as well as letting you know when you are going too fast for the posted speed limit, using the accelerometer in your iPhone. There’s also live traffic reports from NAVTEQ, and some great crowd-sourced info from other Trapster users. It’s also free, so you don’t have anything to lose by checking it out.
Google Earth may seem like an odd addition to this list, but boy is it fantastic if you want to show your kids (or other passengers) where you are headed. Going to the Grand Canyon? Simply search for it and zoom into the beautiful satellite imagery provided by Google’s amazing app. You can have it label things for you, or turn them all off for an unfettered flyover of your destination. Slick, fun, free, and gorgeous on the new iPad.
Road-Trip With Your iPad, Too
We’ve spent a good deal of time on apps that will work on your iPhone, what with its built in cell-data capabilities, but wanted to find some great ones for you iPad-only owners as well. Yes, apps made for the iPhone or iPod touch can run in enlarged mode on the iPAd, but we’re kind of iPad snobs and really only want to run iPad apps natively. That’s why you’ll only find Universal or iPad-only apps in the next list for road-trips with your iPad.
The Weather Channel for iPad
This one is for the iPad only, and contains all the weather info you might need for your road trip planning and while on the road. It’s gorgeous as well, and full of neat little touches for weather geeks, like an interactive world weather globe, radar weather maps that move, pollen information for the U.S., and some storm and breaking news footage. It’s really gorgeous on the new iPad as well.
Trip Time – Are We There Yet?
Here’s the phrase that strikes terror into the hearts of parents everywhere: “Are we there, yet?” The lucky ones who have an iPad (or an iPhone, this one is Universal) can use this app to help
the little terrorists their kids in the backseat to visualize where tehy are at in their trip, and how much longer it might take to get there. Simply start the app, set the destination, and the travel method, and Trip Time will display the distance and duration left in your trip. Sweet mercy!
Ever get to where you’re going, then realize you have no idea what to do there? No clue where to go eat, what to check out in your free time, where the best selection of beers on tap is? Well, universal app Goby has you covered. Download it, connect to your Facebook account,a nd it will immediately start showing you things to do in your local area based on your Facebook preferences. Search across 350 categories like Live Music, Children’s Museums, Yoga Studios, and – obviously – Brewpubs. Never be bored again, on a road-trip or in your own backyard.