4 Companion Apps for the Ultimate Road Trip

The smartphone is an essential part of the driving experience in 2013. It has replaced bulky GPS navigation systems and in-dash CD players, and it even serves as an insurance and claims tool in the event of an accident. It seems like our phones have replaced every function of driving except pressing the gas pedal and turning the wheel.

Whether it’s a road trip or a daily commute, some apps are must-haves before starting the engine and hitting the road.

Navigation: Google Maps (free)

Images via Apple App Store

Google Maps is one of the most popular apps on both iOS and Android. It’s accuracy, mountains of map data and turn-by-turn navigation is unmatched by competitors. Google Maps can monitor traffic, offer alternative routes and even grab walking directions from your car to your destination if you park a few blocks away. An app with these features would cost you $50 just five years ago, but Google doesn’t charge a dime for the best navigation tool around.

Pro tip: Program your home and work addresses for quicker directions from these common locations.

Energy Saving: FuelGood (free)

Images via Apple App Store

Conserving gas saves money; gamifying makes it fun. FuelBetter uses GPS to determine how much gas your vehicle’s using and shows opportunities where fuel can be saved. This app is great for used trucks or older cars that get less-than-desirable mileage in the city, and it credits points toward fuel consumption improvements.

Pro tip: If your car’s upgraded or modified, change the engine’s size/specs in the app’s settings.

Discovery: Along The Way ($2.99)

Images via Apple App Store

Along the Way is a godsend for long road trips through unknown territory. It uses the popular check-in service Foursquare to find places of interest along your route. Tell Along the Way to find a good burger joint, and it drops pins on a map along the road to make stopping for a bite to eat.

Pro tip: It’s not just for food. Use the sites and arts searches to find historic landmarks throughout your trip.

Anti-texting: DriveSafe.ly ($13.95 per year)

Texting while driving is a big issue on the road and causes accidents, injuries and deaths all over the country. It’s considered a bigger distraction than driving while intoxicated. DriveSafe.ly ensures your focus is off the phone and on the road. It receives all incoming texts and emails and reads them allowed as they drive, letting you keep both hands on the wheel, or you can set an auto-reply message to let others know you’re driving. Auto companies are adding this feature to newer cars that sync with smartphones, but this is a cheap and reliable option for anyone without a smart system in the car.

Pro tip: You can assign voice gender by contact, so a text from a male friend will read in a male voice and a text from a female friend will read in a female voice.