While David is busy building a deck ... that would be a backyard deck and not a Nine of Cups' deck ... you're stuck with me for the day. Grin and bear it!
We love to travel … especially road trips … hence the reason we bought Blue. We’ve criss-crossed the USA several times in the past, most notably in 2010 and 2012, and we’re looking forward to more. This time, however, we plan to really take our time. There’s slow travel and then there’s slooooooow travel. We fall into the latter category.
We’ve discovered a few apps that we particularly like and use frequently when making road trips that we thought we’d share with you. We have not included apps like Waze, Spotify, Yelp, Foursquare or Findery or travel apps like Travelocity or AirBnB, but rather those apps we, in particular, find most useful along our journey. We tend to avoid big city traffic; we prefer to sing along with our own CDs; and we picnic wherever and whenever we can. We’re always open to suggestions though, so if you’ve got a neat app or idea to share, we’d appreciate hearing from you. We have an iPhone, but most apps are available for Android, too.
Since Blue uses diesel and not every gas station offers diesel, we find this app particularly helpful for 1) finding a station that sells diesel and 2) finding the best price in the area. We’ve determine that even with discounts, truck stops on the highway such as Pilot, Flying J and Loves are usually the highest priced diesel out there. We can also check ahead to see if diesel is cheaper in a particular city or state. Arizona is cheaper than Nevada, for instance, so we filled up there before crossing the state line on our recent return trip from California. You can allegedly save $$ on gas with this app, too, but we haven’t tried it yet.
One of the problems we find with Google maps is that we’re not able to visualize the whole area or state, or at least we haven’t figured out how to do it yet. Sometimes we want to meander and in order to do so, we like to see all our options without a specific destination in mind. I’ve downloaded Maps.Me for countries we’ve visited as obscure as Devil's Island in French Guiana and been absolutely astounded with the results. From French Guiana to US states we plan to visit, I love this app. It can be used on or offline (great if you’re out of cell phone range) and provides detailed maps and places of interest.
We use the Choice Hotel app which includes several low-end to moderately priced hotels (EconoLodge, Quality Inn, Comfort Suites) at the “best” rate. You know … Badda book. Baddam Boom. Other hotel apps probably do the same, but we combine this app with the Choice credit card to accumulate points for free nights. They often offer “stay 2 nights… get a night free” promotions. We can view what rooms are available and make the reservations on our phone at the very last minute, once we decide where we’re staying. AARP/Senior rates are quite reasonable. Our back-up is Wyndham Rewards which offers similar benefits.
A friend told us about this app and we use it quite frequently now as we travel. It finds you on major highways throughout the USA and lists what’s available at every exit … restaurants, gas stations, supermarkets, attractions, banks, pharmacies, etc. Or you can choose a highway to explore in advance. Really handy if you’re trying to plan your stops along the way based on where you can get coffee, find an ATM or a Mickey Ds.
With this app, we can find available rest stops and amenities along major highways throughout the USA including those with parking, picnic tables, pet areas, vending, welcome centers and loos, either by exit number or in a map view. This app is free, or for $, you can add National Parks along the route, too.
GPS my city
I’ve found this app to be quite helpful once we’re in a city. It provides walking tours and highlights of dozens of cities … from Worcester, Massachusetts to Rome, Tokyo and Prague. It offers some specialty walks like architectural, historical, neighborhoods, museums, street art, etc, depending on the city. It provides detailed info and maps and it’s free.
Amazing ... even a walking tour of Worcester, Massachusetts, the city where I was born. Who knew?
Because we love the absurd and because we hate to miss anything odd, obscure or offbeat in our travels, this app was a must for us. I mean missing out on the biggest ball of twine? Or the spider farm in Vermont? Or the Spam Museum? I mean really … how could we? I actually paid for this app because I loved the on-line version so much and I think it’s well worth it just for the absurdity of it all.
We just discovered this one though it’s been around for awhile. If we know where we want to go, this app is great as a trip planner. It maps the route, things to see and do along the way, camping/RV sites, hotels, restaurants, etc. Useful and free.
We haven’t tried this one yet, but I’m anxious to use it because it will track your location on a map to show your route. You can add waypoints offline and upload later. You can add pix and you can even post to Facebook or other social media apps.
Well, there you go. I'm sure there are lots more out there that we haven't discovered yet and lots more to come. We haven't even begun to check out all the camping, RV and hiking apps, but we will soon. Remember, if you've got some ideas, please share with us.