With kid(s), a husband and possibly a needy dog in the car, what I like to call “efficient driving” on a road trip is essential. Fidgety kids paired with traffic is no fun. Neither is being late. Thankfully, technology helps travelers successfully cruise America’s great highways and beyond. Unsure which apps to use? This list of best navigation apps for road trips, written in partnership with AT&T, will help travelers arrive on time, avoid traffic, and tour a destination with ease.
Best Free Online Directions: Google Maps
Provided that you’re connected to the internet, Google Maps offers an easy way to look up an address and find out how to get there. Most of you are probably already familiar with it so I won’t get into too many details but it offers street maps, panoramic street views, real-time traffic as well as the ability to time out a journey by foot, car or bicycle.
I just read that you can download a map and use it offline but after messing around with the app on my phone, I couldn’t figure out how to do it which means I’ll never use this feature.
AT&T Navigator offers drivers much more than just directions. The app shares real-time traffic alerts on your route, will choose another route ifs necessary, lets drivers share arrival times with family and friends, locates inexpensive gas prices, offers coupons for nearby restaurants and other deals, shows points of interest from TripAdvisor and Yelp, along with other useful features you’d expect from a premium app. Downloading offline maps is another feature (that is much easier to use than Google Maps). The cost is $9.95 per month.
Best Community-Driven Info: Waze
Waze is a community-driven app that helps drivers navigate based on real-time data reported by other drivers. Their claim is that nothing can beat intelligence from real people. Where Waze shines is the alerts that chime when a policeman is nearby which is the kind of data that computerized apps can’t generate. A community of editors works furiously to make sure the app reflects fast routes, cheapest gas prices and more. It really is like a personal heads-up from millions of people.
Best Offline Maps: Maps.Me
Maps.Me is a map app that doesn’t require internet, a feature that can sure save on roaming charges especially when overseas. It’s also helpful when you’re driving in an area with spotty cell phone or WiFi coverage. Before going on a trip, open the app to download the city or cities you’re exploring. Users are pleased with its level of detail as it even highlights fountains and dirt trails in parks to help identify an exact location. The app zooms in and out easily, too, and they claim to have maps ready for even tiny islands and small villages.
Best for Hiring Someone Else to Drive: Uber and Blacklane
Let’s face it, there are times when we’ve arrived at an unfamiliar destination and don’t want to do the navigating. Or, maybe I’m tired from a full day of driving, checked into a hotel room and would like to enjoy a glass of wine (or two) with dinner. There is nothing wrong with calling in reinforcements.
If we’re in the United States, we use Uber to take us out to dinner and events when on road trips to Los Angeles or when visiting other cities around the country like Boston and Washington, DC. But, when overseas (in our experience) Blacklane is a far superior service with sleek luxury cars. We loved using them during our road trip from London to Hampshire. Either way, even when on a road trip anywhere in the world, feel no guilt about summoning another driver when a quick break is in order.
Best for Finding an Unplanned Room: Hotel Tonight
If your road trip is impromptu or perhaps you’ve deviated from a planned schedule, Hotel Tonight finds nearby rooms for the same or next night at (usually) a discount because hotels large and small sell unused inventory through the app. I’ve had great luck using it in Orange County when I don’t feel like driving home and in other similar circumstances.
Share your favorite road trip tips using the hashtag #RoadTripATT. You’ll also find other helpful posts in the hashtag in a range of topics from packing tips to best road trip songs.
*This post is written in partnership with AT&T.