5 Free Apps for Saving on Your Next Road Trip

In this article: These free travel-related apps can help you save money on gas, lodging and food each time you hit the road and help you find amazing places to visit along the way.
by Charlie Cohn
Free Apps for Road Trip photo

Ah, the Great American Road Trip. It’s your chance to break free, take life by the wheel, celebrate your independence, and see the country on your terms. Of course, with that freedom comes the responsibility of planning your adventure.

Thankfully, plenty of smartphone apps are on the market to help you every step of the way. To ensure that your drive goes smoothly, here are five free travel-related apps (and one shopping app) available for iOS and Android phones to help you plan and execute your expedition.

1. Plan Your Trip and Find Attractions With Roadtrippers

When it comes to a road trip, the phrase, “It’s not the destination, but the journey,” epitomizes the magic of taking in the sights along the way. Though Roadtrippers can help you find food, entertainment and accommodations, the app is best for finding odd attractions along the way.

Whether you want to see the World’s Largest Sun Dial or explore one of our many beautiful state parks, Roadtrippers will help you find it. Simply set your starting point and destination, and the app will suggest attractions along the way. Tired of looking at your phone? The app even allows you to print out your itinerary. As a bonus for the budget-minded, Roadtrippers allows you to estimate how much fuel will cost along the way.

Roadtrippers offers a free plan and paid plans.

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2. Locate the Best Price on Gas with GasBuddy

Remember that episode of Seinfeld when Kramer decides to see just how far a car can go on a tank of gas? We’ve all done it (sometimes accidentally) — and it can be terrifying. GasBuddy alleviates the fear of not being able to find the next place to fill up the tank.

This essential app uses your GPS to locate the nearest gas stations and tells you how much gas costs at each location so you can always find the best price. It allows you to filter by price, fuel grade, map view, and whether a station carries diesel fuel.

3. Book a Place to Stay with Hotels.com

I recently found myself looking for a last-minute hotel after discovering all the campgrounds were full where I planned to stay for the night. Not knowing my options, I pulled out my phone and opened Hotels.com’s app on my iPhone to find the most economical accommodations in the area. (You can get the Android version here.) Then, I drove directly to the hotel to make a booking, which was a big mistake.

The front desk would not match the same low price I found online. So, I stepped out of line, opened the app back up, found a mobile-only Hotels.com discount at RetailMeNot.com, and made my reservation. Then, I got back in line and checked into the hotel at a fraction of the advertised cost.

4. Navigate Around Town Via the Quickest Route With Waze

Waze is a community-based app that incorporates real-time traffic information from other users to provide you with the most efficient directions. That means you can drive like a local no matter what city your trip takes you to and save gas by avoiding traffic. The app works so well that Google shelled out a reported $1 billion for the company in 2013 to incorporate its technology and data into the Google Maps app.

Don’t feel comfortable looking at your phone while you drive? No problem. The app will give you directions by “voice” while you drive.

5. Find Where to Eat, Shop, and Get Your Car Serviced with Yelp

Many apps are designed to help you find restaurants along the road, but Yelp is still my favorite. Users have been providing Yelp.com with peer reviews of businesses since 2004, filling the site with an incredible amount of information about restaurants, shopping, nightlife, entertainment, and services you might need along your journey.

Want a cheap meal? Yelp it. Need a new tire? Yelp it. The Yelp app gives you access to all the information you’d find on the website and puts it at the tip of your fingers. This app is a must-have for any traveler.

Now you have food, entertainment, fuel, and directions. What else do you need for a great road trip? All that’s left to do is download the apps and hit the highway. Adventure calls.

Reviewed May 2024

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