Sometimes it makes sense to be prepared. Other times, flying by the seat of your pants is half the fun. Take the spontaneous road trip, for example. A few days, the open road, no set itinerary. Could there be a better way to spend the last carefree moments of summer? Yes — if the trip devolves into skeevy hotels and I-think-an-alien-was-birthed-in-here restrooms. We’re not advocating skipping the spontaneity altogether, but these apps will help make your trip as good as the one you agonized over for months, minus actually having to plan ahead.
It’s hard not to feel scammed booking accommodations at the last minute. That’s when rates are often insane even though empty beds means losing money. Enter HotelTonight, which finds available rooms the day you’re looking to book, often at significant a discount (there’s a best price guarantee). Rooms are organized into categories — basic, solid and luxe — so you can match the digs to the vibe of your trip.
2. Sit Or Squat
Sure, you probably wouldn’t mind getting some extra exercise to combat road trip butt. But we’re guessing squatting over a filthy toilet bowl isn’t the workout you were thinking of. Sit Or Squat uses your location to find nearby bathrooms that have been rated by users as “sit” (clean) or “squat” (drive on by).
Studies say it takes road trippers exactly five hours to run out of things to say to each other. OK, we made that stat up. But it’s a safe bet you and your travel companions are going to crave fresh company at some point. FourSquare’s new app, Swarm, lets you check in to locations. But Swarm is more socially minded, alerting you to which of your friends are nearby. The world just got a whole lot smaller.
4. TV Food Maps
You probably don’t want Guy Fieri along for the ride, but his picks for Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives would sure be nice. Enter TV Food Maps, an app that helps you find eateries that have appeared on shows like Triple D, Man vs. Food and Best Thing I Ever Ate. Because road trips are too short to clog your arteries with junk food that lacks the Food Network’s stamp of approval.
Unsure what you’re supposed to do on your road trip other than, y’know, drive? Download Peek, an app that functions like a less annoying version of your know-it-all friend. Users can search for activities by interest, neighborhood and occasion, such as “what to do when it’s raining.” Peek also asks celebrities to curate lists and lets users make reservations without leaving.
Got a helpful app we missed? Add it to the list below!