Archive | November, 2011

The Best Road Trip Apps

23 Nov

According to AAA, 42.5 million people are expected to travel 50 miles+ for Thanksgiving this week, a 4% increase over last year.

Whether you are driving for one hour or trekking hundreds of miles, there’s no doubt that having a smartphone on hand can be a lifesaver.

Here are some of my favorite road trip apps, some help pass the time and others are more practical. All were tested on a multi-state trip this summer.


This app is awesome! We stayed at five different hotels on our summer trip, and I didn’t print out a single travel reservation email. Just forward your confirmations to Tripit, and it will build an itinerary compiling all your information. (Bonus: Tripit has a fun promo video.)

Road Hunt

This is the only “I Spy” type game I could find that worked for well for multiple players, and had things you might actually see on the road. A word of warning–the driver is at a great disadvantage (not that I’m still bitter from losing or anything).

Sit or Squat

While having the familiar I-Didn’t-Have-To-Go-Then argument with your kids (or spouse), use this handy app to find public bathroom locations nearby. And if you have a “crappy” experience, you can even leave a review.


Best Road Trip Ever

Using your location, this app will clue you in to the oldest, largest, and weirdest landmarks across the U.S. Without it we wouldn’t have found the “Home of America’s Biggest Burger Challenge” in Pennsylvania or the A Christmas Story house in Cleveland.

Gas Buddy

I’m one of those people who always pays too much for gas. Minutes after I fill up, I’ll see a station with rates five cents less per gallon. This app solves that problem by giving station locations and prices. You can also send updates to the app for a chance to win free gas.


This app is easy to use and navigate, just choose Stay, Eat, or See to find top rated hotels, restaurants, and attractions.With time to kill in Ohio, we used it to discover the Cleveland Botanical Garden–a totally unexpected highlight of our trip. I also found TripAdvisor’s reviews more helpful than Yelp.

Wishing everyone safe and happy travels this Thanksgiving!


My Favorite Place to Travel?

18 Nov

I was browsing the racks at a little boutique in Meredith, NH, when a store clerk struck up a conversation. She asked if I was on vacation.


“Do you travel often,” she continued.

“When I can,” I replied, offhandedly.

Then she asked a question that completely disarmed me: “What’s your favorite place to travel?”

To her, this seemed like idle chit-chat. But it struck me as deeply personal. If she had asked me my weight or if I believed in God, it wouldn’t have felt more intrusive.

I lied, said something about Arizona’s desert landscape (lovely, yes, but my favorite?), and made my way out of the store and into a neighboring bar.

While I sipped a beer, I wondered: Why had this simple question rattled me? And what is my favorite place?

Panicked, I searched my brain for an answer. Looking over London from the rooftop of St. Paul’s? Exploring the labyrinth of the Metropolitan Museum in New York? Winding up the California coast along US 101? Riding the ferry out to Block Island to spend day at the beach? None of it seemed quite right.

And the idea of choosing felt strange, felt wrong. Like picking your favorite child. Who could do such a thing?

Not me, I decided.

Maybe I haven’t found my favorite place yet. Then again, maybe I have. Either way, next time I’m asked, I’ll be better prepared.

I might say, “I’m not sure,” or perhaps, “My next trip is my favorite, I going to ________ this summer.”

Or maybe I’ll turn it around, and ask, “What’s yours?”

Because really, it’s not such a bad question.