Long before the smartphone, Facebook and Twitter were mainstream, one did not use travel apps. In fact, once upon a time, my parents printed out stacks of maps. Google Maps directions, neatly outlining the miles of road and expected hours. To supplement the plain directions, we added AAA tourist books.
One day, my mom didn’t print any directions. She waved her phone, “Google has this app with directions, we don’t need the lists anymore!”
I remember being dubious, would a phone work as well as our sheets of directions? Mom wouldn’t be able to pass it to the backseat and let us peruse. No more markers, crossing out the exits we’d taken. No, now there was an app for that.
Now, we still brought along our AAA tour books. Where else would we go for the lists of museums, hotels and best places to eat?
But one trip, we forgot our AAA tour books. Not intentionally, it was just an oversight. While we had a mini-panic attack, my mom realized, Google had all that info too! Just ask Maps for lists of restaurants and Voila! There was even customer reviews! Poor, AAA tour books. While I still love to get them before planning a vacation, with a smartphone, tour books are almost relics.
But Travel apps are almost as much fun! Today, there’s alot more than Google Maps on the market. I’ve seen friends using Waze, Road2Rio, MapQuest and tried and true Google Maps. Which one is the best? Each travel app has unique feature, with definite pros and cons.
Waze ranks as one of the most fun apps to use. Waze markets itself as the largest community based traffic and navigation app.
As users drive with Waze, road conditions are updated by drivers. Waze warns you as you drive, “Car parked on shoulder” or “Red light camera ahead” Since living in Philly the red light camera warning has been super helpful, it’s a $300 fine for running a light!
Waze also connects with your social feeds, if you choose to connect you’ll know when any of your FB friends are driving. That’s kind of creepy 😉
Waze also doesn’t let you navigate if you’re driving. If you want to type in an address, you have to put the app into passenger mode.
While the constant road hazard warnings can be helpful, they also get annoying. Do I really need to know when each and every car that is parked on the shoulder? On the other hand, always knowing the speed limit is super helpful
Waze also seems to run a bit slower, sometimes I think it takes a while for the map to catch up to where my car actually is. I’ve missed a turn or two because it showed my car a block behind where I actually was.
I’ve only recently discovered MapQuest. And it’s super fun! Not only does it provide clear instructions, but there are a ton of layers. Press the coffee icon and MapQuest shows all the local coffee shops. Same with ice-cream, libraries, and fast food. MapQuest calls these searches filters, and there’s a large variety.
Map quest also has a progress bar, giving you an immediate head’s up on how much more driving you have to go.
This app does use up a lot of battery, so you’ll need to watch out for that. Just make sure you have a spare charger handy.
Want to ride instead of drive? Rome2Rio is for you! Just type in your destination, and Rome2Rio shows any way you can get there. Bus fare, trains, and flight plans. Even Uber and Lyft!
This is a super handy dandy app if you’re in a big city and need sub info. While Google Maps may show you where the subway is, R2R gives you the price, which line you need to jump on and how many switches you might be making. The app was priceless when I was in NYC, it helped us figure out the very confusing New York City Met system.
R2R isn’t a driving app, it instead relies on local transportation to get you places.
These are the various travel apps I’ve used; I know there’s more on the market but I haven’t invested in trying them all out yet. Maybe you can share your favorite app in the comments below!
Still travel using Google Maps? Don’t worry, no-one’s watching 😉