A friend and I recently went on a week long road trip from Central New York, down Route 66, then to Salt Lake City. During our journey we used several apps. Some of them were extremely useful, while others were more annoying than anything. My friend has an iPhone and I have an Android. We used our phones interchangeably because all of these apps are available for both systems.
Delta and US Airways:
Because my friend flew in, this trip started and ended with an airport visit. I have used both Delta and US Airways and they are both pretty handy. The Delta app is really sleek and more useful, while US Airways just gets the job done. I just love that I can type in the flight number and get up to the minute info on when they will be landing.
This was by far the greatest app we had for the entire trip. You can search for gas based on your location, or you can type in a location. You can have it as a list, or you can look at it from the map, but all locations show the price of the gas and when this price was last updated. The prices are based on other users entering in this information, so you need to do your part and update the prices as well, but they make that really easy to do. There were some times when we were in the middle of nowhere so the gas prices weren’t available, but more often than not it helped us to find gas 10 cents cheaper than the rest of the town.
This one is obvious, but it never fails me. The reviews and quick tips are the most helpful thing for me when I’m looking for a great place to eat. This app will lead you to the places that are more popular and probably frequented by tourists. I like that it gives me general price so I can stay within my budget. However, if you end up in a tiny town, it’s better to just ignore the app and go to the place that has the most cars in the parking lot. That’s where you’ll find the best food.
We used a few different apps to find places to stay. They all have pro’s and cons, so it just depends on what works best for you. In general, we started looking for a place to stay around 5:00pm while we were still on the road.
We booked our first hotel with this app. You can search for hotels based on your location, or you can type in a city. It brings up deals and reviews and promises the best price. I found the hotel I wanted then hit “book”, which dials a number. I thought I was calling the actual hotel, but it was really hotels.com. They answered and asked a bunch of questions and booked the hotel for me and I payed over the phone. It was weird. When we got to the hotel, the price on the sign was $20 cheaper than what we’d paid on the phone. We called hotels.com and they wouldn’t give us the refund because of something to do with same day booking. So they promise price matching as long as you are not booking on the same day?
I know hotels.com has some sort of program where you stay a certain amount of nights and get the next one free. That might make this app worth it if you figure out their system. They lady on the phone was nice and they did find us a hotel for cheap, but we could have found it cheaper. I’m still up in the air about whether I’ll be giving them a second chance.
Booking.com (iPhone) (Android)
This was very similar to hotels.com, except that we found that there were many hotels that didn’t actually come up in our search. We were sitting in a parking lot looking at a Best Western, but it wasn’t coming up in the app. We didn’t really move forward with this one after that.
I love the website and have planned whole trips through them before, so when we saw there was an app we decided to give it a try. This app was the most helpful in listing more hotels than anywhere else, but we found that there aren’t as many reviews as there are on hotels.com so it made it harder to figure out what we were getting ourselves into. It also doesn’t have a direct phone number to call the hotel to book. There is a number at the bottom that just takes you to hotels.com. This makes me thing that trip advisor is just linking to hotels.com so it might be easier to use the other app anyway. I do like that Trip Advisor has not only hotels, but also dining, things to do, and flights. You could potentially do everything you want with this one app.
We ended up searching for hotels with this app, then googling the hotel we wanted to find their phone number to call them directly. Once again, this was because we were booking same day. If you’re booking in advance, you’ll might get better deals through hotels.com.
This app is really fun. It sends out a glympse of your location to anyone you choose. I sent it out to my family via their smart phones or email addresses. They could watch my little dot driving across the country. The longest glympse you can send out is 4 hours, so I either sent it several times a day or just once in the middle of the day, depending on how I felt. The catch to this is that is shows how fast you are moving. So if you are speeding and don’t want your parents to know, then don’t do it. I found that it was a fun way to keep them updated and my dad even sent suggestions on places I should check out because he saw I was in the area.
I have never used this on an iPhone so I’m not sure if it works the same, but my sister said she downloaded the app onto her iPhone and followed my progress through it.
I think it’s very important when using these apps to do your part in leaving feedback. I’ve noticed that usually the people that leave feedback are the ones that had a bad experience, so that skews ratings in the negative direction. So if you find a great place to eat, stay in any hotel, or see a different price for gas – just update it. Most of the time it takes less than 5 minutes (30 seconds for gas buddy).
Smart phones are definitely making road trips easier, but also remember that part of the fun of a road trip is experiencing things along the way. So, you may consider putting away your phone and have some adventures.