14 Essential Road Trip Planner Gadgets & Apps
Make your next road trip a breeze with these tech solutions
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Plan Your Adventure
Before going anywhere, plan your route—and all the stops in between that truly make a road trip. On the Roadtrippers app or website, you’re not only able to map the start and end of the trip, but also discover the stops of interest in between, from national parks to hotels to cultural landmarks. Tap or click on spots on the map and Roadtrippers will automatically number your spots in the order you’ll hit them on the road, and save the trip to refer to along the way.
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Need some voice-assisted help away from home? Add the Garmin Speak to the car to ask Alexa for directions to saved locations, as well as the whereabouts of nearby gas stations or landmarks. The device also has a small screen that will prompt you visually with the next direction.
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Fill Your Tank
Don’t just plan the fun stops—plan the gas stops, too. Use GasBuddy’s app to optimize your route for the most affordable gas stations, or find the one nearest you. You can even run a trip calculator to estimate how much the trip will cost you in gas expenses.
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Find Your Way
If you can never decide between Waze or Google Maps, it’s probably time you knew: they’re both owned by Google. But Waze has the upper hand with community-based feedback that can warn you about traffic jams, construction, and even the most affordable gas stations as you drive.
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Prop It Up
The iOttie Easy One Touch makes for an easy dashboard mount for your smartphone, so you can watch the directions as you travel (and nothing else). iOttie makes a variety of mounts that attach to a CD slot or air vent, so you can choose the right option for your car.
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Dude, Where’s My Car?
Get a smart car without the hefty price tag. Plug in the Automatic Pro to track your trip, where you parked your car, and even integrate with third-party apps like IFTTT to work with your home Alexa (ask, “Hey Alexa, where’s my car?”) or Nest to start heating your home when you’re nearly there.
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Trying to plan your next pit stop? Download this app and it’ll use your location to tell you which exits are coming up and what they have to offer, whether that’s gas, food, and/or lodging options. The app can pair with GasBuddy, Yelp, and Travel Coupons to give you pricing on the different local spots coming up.
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Don’t get stranded with a dead battery. Grab a portable jump starter—a.k.a., one with a battery pack so you won’t need to attempt flagging down another car in the middle of nowhere—and make sure it’s fully charged before you hit the road. This model is good for most cars and midsize SUVs, but do a little research if you’ve got a larger or special-style engine.
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For the EVs
Hitting the road in an EV
? Download the ChargeHub app to easily find charging stations, check availability, and see what kind of charger awaits in your local area or on the road ahead.
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Don’t just settle for one USB port. Plug this gadget in to get quick charging for two USB ports, so you can charge your and a passenger’s phones at the same time.
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Don’t Get Tolled
Don’t forget to check your tolls before you hit the road. Use the Tollsmart app to plan how much your journey will cost you in toll fees, so you have the right amount of cash on hand before heading out. The app can even map tolls in Canada and Mexico.
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Be prepared for anything along the road with AAA’s handy kits for road excursions, which include necessities like band-aids and batteries. The kits are outdoors-oriented; they even have a winter road safety edition that includes a shovel and fleece gloves.
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Get a Parking Spot
Worried about where you’ll put the car while on a detour? The ParkMe app helps you find the nearest parking, daily and monthly rates, and even a parking timer to help remind you to get back to your ride.
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Somewhere to Crash
In case you aren’t in the mood to car camp along your journey, find a hotel room quickly with discounted rates on HotelTonight. Book a room up to a week in advance on the app if you know where you’ll be stopping for the night, or just find an available room on the go.