If you’re planning to hit the open road this summer, take a few minutes before your trip to download a few apps to your smartphone or tablet. Apps can perform a number of useful services that save you time and money and even provide peace of mind in case your car breaks down.
You should already have a navigation app such as Google Maps or Waze that provides turn-by-turn directions to help you find the fastest routes and avoid traffic. These additional driving apps can request a jump start or tire repair, locate the cheapest gas, inform your friends when you’ll be arriving, and even find the nearest bathroom.
iExit Interstate Exit Guide
Those blue signs on the side of the interstate provide helpful information about what gas, food, and other services are available on the next exit. But wouldn’t it be nice if you could see further exits? iExit does just that—it uses your GPS location to provide a real-time summary of the exits ahead. And you can search upcoming exits for specific amenities like Starbucks, Chevron, and KOA campgrounds. iExit is available for Apple and Android devices.
No one expects to break down or run out of gas, but it’s best to be prepared for such an event. Urgent.ly provides on-demand roadside assistance, including towing, jump starts, flat tire repair, lockouts, and gas. It works like Uber by locating the nearest available service provider and lets you track them on their way to your car, and unlike AAA, there’s no monthly membership fee. You pay a flat fee (typically $75) for the service provided. Urgent.ly is free to download for Apple and Android devices.
Gas prices are at their lowest levels since 2005, but you can still save even more on gas. GasBuddy not only locates the nearest gas stations, it tells you which one has the cheapest gas. You can use it to search nearby, or search by city and zip code to plan ahead. GasBuddy is free for Apple, Android, Windows, and Blackberry devices
If you’re planning to spend much time driving the highways, it’s likely you’ll pass through a toll. Just plug your route into the Tollsmart app, and it calculates toll costs across all bridges, tunnels, and toll roads in the U.S. and Canada. It even supports toll rates for motorcycles, RVs, and transponder accounts. Tollsmart is available for Apple and Android devices.
Texting while driving is dangerous and illegal in most states, but you may need to tell someone when you’ll be arriving. Glympse automatically informs friends and family members of your location using GPS tracking. You can select contacts to update, set an expiration time, provide a destination, and customize a message. Glympse does all the rest and leaves you free to drive. Glympse is free for Apple, Android, and Windows devices.
Flush Toilet Finder
It’s bound to happen: You get a few miles down the road, and you or one of the kids has to go to the bathroom. Flush Toilet Finder searches the area around for you the nearest public bathroom. Its database contains 100,000 bathrooms, and you can sort for disabled access, pay toilets, or even bathrooms that lock with a key. Flush Toilet Finder is free for Apple and Android devices.
There’s nothing worse that arriving at your destination and driving around another 20 minutes or more looking for affordable parking. BestParking provides comprehensive parking data, including locations and rates, in 105 cities and 115 airports throughout North America. BestParking is free for Apple, Android, and Blackberry devices.