Family Life


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Best Road Trip Apps for Summer Adventures

Hit the road, Jack. And while you are at it, don’t forget to download these handy road trip apps when you pack your sunglasses, snacks and favourite travel mug.

Your smartphone or tablet can help you remain organized, connected and entertained during your road trip through Canada or the US—and even save you time and money.

From smart navigation maps and deal-sniffing gas guides, to booking hotels on the cheap, here are some awesome road trip apps we love to get you going in the right direction.

Navigation aids

Perhaps you use Apple Maps or Google Maps for directions since it’s already included with your iPhone or Android, but be sure to also download Waze before you head out, as it’s the world’s largest community-based navigation app.

By crowdsourcing traffic and road information from millions of users (known as “wazers”) you get real-time data about the roads around you—including accidents, construction zones and speed traps—to help you get to your destination faster.

Along with different navigation voices to choose from, Waze also lets you stream music and podcasts right from within the app. For video and music services like Netflix, Apple Music and Spotify, be sure to download your media while still at home and connected to your Wi-Fi so it doesn’t use up your data while you are driving.

Waze also includes a Share your Drive feature that lets you communicate your route with friends and family before you leave, so they will get an accurate arrival time instead of calling for updates. Another handy feature? If you have a 407 ETR pass, you can see the estimated toll cost you would need to pay if you take that route.

Fill ’er up

Given the high cost of gas these days, be sure to download road trip app Gas Buddy before you head out. The company estimates it helps to save the average user about $340 per year by identifying nearby stations with the lowest prices—and mapping their locations so they are easy to find. You can search gas stations by distance or cost, plus you can see prices for regular, mid-grade, premium and diesel fuel.

Other GasBuddy features include a trip cost calculator, tips and tricks to use less gas, car recall information and optional in-app challenges you can accept to win free fuel.

If you drive an electric vehicle, PlugShare is one of the most popular and free solutions to find public charging stations compatible with your car. It also works with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which means you can see and access the information on your vehicle’s dashboard screen.

PlugShare lets you browse nearby or bookmarked charging locations and find stations along your route using the app’s built-in road trip planner. You can also search by amenities or charging network and see station ratings and their real-time availability. At some locations, you can also pay for charging using the app.

Nighty night

At more than 25 years old, is a long-standing booking service and website that is now also a popular app. It features an intuitive interface, maps and ride-share integration, support for smartwatches, a “secret price” feature, and arguably the best loyalty and rewards program around (including a deal to stay ten nights and get the next one free). To reduce the likelihood of fake reviews, all customers who rate a hotel must have stayed there.

And then there’s Pruvo, which helps you get a better price on your hotel—after you’ve booked it. Once you have your reservation, you can forward your confirmation to a special Pruvo email address that will monitor your room rate.

If the rate drops—a common occurrence, according to the company—you’ll be notified on your phone about how much money you could save, and you’ll get instructions on how to cancel your original reservation. You can then rebook at the lower rate. The only catch is, you need to have the ability to cancel your room to begin with.

Lastly, if you drive an electric vehicle, you will also want to consider downloading EVHotels, which highlights accommodations that also offer charging stations.

Where to go

An ideal tool for Canadian explorers, Roadtrippers: Trip Planner helps you discover places to stop along your route this summer, from great restaurants and hotels to scenic sites and quirky roadside attractions like Sudbury’s Big Nickel or Echo Bay’s “Giant Loonie.” You can use the app to plan your trip and also share your itinerary with family and friends.

Looking for a good vegan restaurant or need to find a gift for that finicky relative you are about to visit? The Yelp app helps you find businesses near you by using your smartphone’s GPS location.

You can also narrow your searches by neighbourhood, distance, rating and price, make restaurant reservations using its OpenTable platform, and use the app’s augmented-reality feature, where you hold up your phone to see information superimposed on top of the real world around you.

For more from tech expert Marc Saltzman, check out or follow him at

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