Summertime, and the travelin’ is easy… or at least it can be! If there’s a road trip on your horizon AHRN.com has got your back with tips and Apps that just may change the way you travel for good! Whether you’re going solo, with the family or friends, renting an RV, heading to a resort, hauling a camper, pitching a tent, staying at B&B’s, or couch surfing, every trip has a few basics to cover.
App: AAA’s TripTik
Free, for Apple and Android devices, though some features are only available to members.
Set up your trip online through the AAA TripTik travel planner, then download correlating maps, complete with attractions found en-route, onto your phone through the App. If you need a hotel, check diamond ratings and book rooms through the App too!
App: Budget Travel Road Trip Apps
Free, for Mac or Android devices.
Need help deciding where to go? This App provides a guide to more than 75 Great American Drives. Whether you’re heading to the city, lakes or mountains, or along country roads, you’ll get GPS maps with the best places to eat, see, and stay.
App: Trail Wallet
Free, for Apple devices
While you can still keep all your receipts in an envelope and tally it all as you go, Trail Wallet is an easy travel expense tracker App that lets you set a daily budget and track your expenses quickly. It’s intuitive and lets you set categories to suit. Add in amounts of receipts as you go and toss. There’s a detailed summary screen, including the last 5 days, and budget spent vs. budget remaining help. If over budget, the App tells you what categories are absorbing it.
Free, for Apple, Android, Windows and BlackBerry devices.
Search for the best gas prices across the country by city, state or ZIP code! They get their info from fellow travelers who input prices as they see or use them while on the road. It’s got a lot of users so is said to be fairly accurate. Check out their $100 free gas per day contest!
RESTAURANTS, COFFEE SHOPS, HOTELS
Free, for Apple, Android, Windows and BlackBerry devices.
The well–known TripAdvisor is a way to get the skinny on hotels and B&B’’s from real patron reviews and pictures. It’s App adds info on some restaurants and attractions. Patrons (not pros) post reviews, so read through several — if you weed out any extremists you’ll get a good sense of things.
Free, for Apple, Android, Kindle, Windows
It seems no matter what you’re looking for, from the best shopping or pizza to the nearest gas station, breakfast spot or pub with a pool table, Yelp is a great search engine. It lists whatever you ask for with a plethora of information (if a restaurant has patio tables, kids seats, a fireplace, their menu, and you can even make reservations from it!), in descending order of proximity to your location, and also has real-people reviews.
PARKS AND ATTRACTIONS
Military.com offers an article that lists the military discounts offered from LEGOLAND to Dollywood, Six Flags to Schlitterbahn. They also cover the details of military discounts at 10 National Parks. It doesn’t list Zoos or museums, so you should go to the individual website of that attraction and search for their military discount or free admission policy. And check out Disney’s Armed Forces Salute Policy for travel through September 2015 too.
$2.99 for Apple and Android devices
Once you get from point A to B, you’ll likely need maps for enjoying B! This really great App helps you navigate your way if you’re spending time at zoos, theme or national parks – even subways – by downloading their maps on to your mobile device. Bonus: Do it before you arrive at a place with little cell reception and you’re still good to go – great for off the grid travel!
SNACKS TO GO
While you may be going where there’s plenty to eat, you’ll want some snacks to go. With food allergies so prevalent these days, you may already do this and know just what to bring. If there’s no room for a cooler, there are healthy snacks that won’t spoil at all, or would safely go for a dozen hours or more and travel well, like cheese sticks or Baby Bells, peanut butter, hummus, granola bars, trail mix, cheerios, carrots, apples bananas and oranges and grapes.
Drink from screw top sodas when in the car – prevents spills and aren’t as wasteful as cans. Juice boxes are a healthy alternative. Try to keep as little sugar going into kids as possible when doing long drives to help them be less antsy! Look for places like Chipotle, which are now almost everywhere (including airports) and make a great healthy, fresh, fast food choice.
Bring one small all-purpose knife for but wrap the blade in foil to avoid accidental cuts when reaching for it where stowed. You can never have enough napkins, and wet wipes are a godsend. Have a designated garbage bag to empty at each stop and if at all possible, set recyclables aside to drop when you get to the nearest city. Ask restaurants and coffee stops if they recycle and they will often take yours.
FUN ON THE ROAD
Begin your vacation the moment your start the car by finding ways to have fun all along the way.
It’s a far cry the days when your folks tuned the AM dial as they drove from city to city, finding mostly static in-between. If you don’t have satellite radio, or blue tooth from your phone, you can plug in an mp3 player or discs for music, podcasts or books on CD. Get them free from your local library or download them from sites like Amazon, iTunes, or Audible. Search for free podcasts covering every topic under the sun from gardening to history to spirituality to news. It’s amazing how much is out there. Stuff You Should Know and The Thomas Jefferson Hour are two fascinating choices. NPR’s Fresh Air, the Moth, and their game shows are good all-interest pleasers.
Many cars come with video screens to keep the kids absorbed and if not, they have their (or your) handheld devices. A couple of great kids’ Apps, found though Amazon, iTunes or Google Play are: Mad Libs, Geography Drive USA , and Road Trip Bingo. Minitime.com offers free printable travel games for kids. But don’t miss the opportunity to use part of the time to bond with no-tech sing-alongs and playing license plate games together.
Doing a little planning before a road trip will save money and help you be prepared enough to truly enjoy your vacation. So put out your Gone Fishin’ sign, load in your snacks and get on your way to starting your vacation as soon as you shut the door to the house… just remember to bring your device chargers with you!!
Is your road trip part of your PCS? Find the perfect home to end your journey at AHRN.com!
Meet Your Contributor:
Rochelle Joseph is a Writer and Image Consultant who has had experience marketing, renting and buying/selling her properties for over 20 years. She has written and edited for several publications, including the Boston Book Review,The Emerson Review, ZooBorns.com, WildLife Magazine, the Houston Zoo, The Wildlife Center of Texas, One Spirit Interfaith Seminary as well as AHRN.com. She currently writes at her great gifts blog at https://lookyhereu.blogspot.com and her animal blog at https://naturegirrrl.blogspot.com.