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Best Apps for Road Trips

Back in the pre-wireless Internet days, road trippers had to settle for amusing themselves with games of “I Spy” and “Punch Buggy.” But now, thanks to the power of smartphones, passengers have countless ways to amuse themselves while navigating the turnpikes and backroads of America. And, though drivers can’t (safely) play games while behind the wheel, they can also benefit from some great navigation and travel apps.

road apps

Here’s a look at what to download to your cellphone before you hit the road.


If you’ve booked numerous hotels and tours for a multi-day road trip, it can be tough to keep track of all the addresses and confirmation numbers you need. This free app does it for you: Simply forward your email confirmations to TripIt, and the app will store your itinerary in chronological order, for easy viewing whether you have Internet access or not.

Google Maps

Google’s been perfecting its navigation skills for years, and it shows in this free app. In addition to voice-guided turn-by-turn directions, you can plug in the name of a restaurant to instantly get directions, even if you don’t know the address. The app gives accurate time estimates and multiple routes for each destination. And the app can even help once you exit your car: It provides walking and public transit transportation options as well.


If you’re in an unfamiliar location, you probably don’t know where the nearest gas station, pizza shop, or motel is. That’s what AroundMe is for: The simple free app instantly detects your location and then lists businesses according to their distance from you, based on predetermined categories or search terms (i.e., “ice cream”). If you find one you’re interested in visiting, the app can pull up directions for you or provide you with a contact phone number.


What’s a road trip without good music? With Spotify, you can create custom playlists from millions of your favorite songs, or download your friends’ playlists. If you have plenty of data available on your smartphone, you can stream music over your phone connection the whole way for free — however, it can be well worth upgrading to the $9.99-a-month premium plan for the chance to download the music to your phone for better sound quality and no advertising interruptions.

Roadside America

Weird roadside attractions like the world’s largest thermometer or gnome are part of the road trip experience. Make sure you don’t miss out by downloading this app, which can help you find out which historic landmarks and strange attractions are nearby, and give you directions to find them. The app is $2.99 for one region, or, if you’re going cross-country, spring for the all-access $5.99 version.


When you’re spending hours as a passenger in a car, staring out the window gets old after a while. If you need to give your brain some exercise, try Drop7, an addictive logic puzzle game that’s a bit like Tetris with more math and no time constraints. The game is easy to learn, and available for free from Zynga.

Angry Birds

If you haven’t discovered this addicting physics game yet, a long road trip is the perfect time to get hooked on the original Angry Birds, which features level after level of birds, slingshots, catapults, and bad guys. If you’ve long since finished the original game, try one of its many spinoffs, including Angry Birds Space or Angry Birds Star Wars, or try out the new app featuring the birds’ nemeses, “Bad Piggies.”

Written By

Laura Adams is senior insurance analyst for, a leading online provider of free car insurance quotes and car insurance information.



  1. myles

    May 16, 2013 at 11:18 am

    a cool list , however while travelling i find spotify to be really suitable for me.

  2. Sudipto

    May 16, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    hey Laura,
    Nice post and Thanks for sharing this list of apps with us. I used Google Map and it really amazing but never used other apps you mentioned above but they really seems interesting and now I am thinking of use them also.

  3. Mahendra

    May 18, 2013 at 6:56 am

    Hello Laura
    These apps are really very effective for a road trip. But what I personally uses are Google Map and spotify. These apps are awesome .

  4. jennifer Richard

    May 18, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Very nice blog and specially it work when you are in road trip. it gives the knowledge about the all direction .

  5. Danielle

    May 19, 2013 at 4:58 am

    Thanks for sharing these road trip apps, Laura! My family and I take a lot of trips through the years, so I’ll definitely make sure to check out these apps soon! On our travels one app that we always enjoy having on the go is DISH Anywhere. I’ve had that app on my phone ever since I started working for DISH since the app lets us watch all of our shows from home, live or recorded, anywhere we get an internet connection. My kids love to use the app as entertainment during the boring parts of the trip and as a TV junkie I love using the app as a way to keep up with my favorite shows when we are thousands of miles away from home! 🙂

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