Tag Archives: Gas Buddy

Apps for Your Memorial Day Weekend Road Trip

Tracey Dowdy

Ah, the great American road trip! Depending on how well your kids handle being strapped in for hours at a time, that phrase either filled you with delight or soul-crushing dread. My kids were pretty road hardy, but my friend Lilly’s daughter saw her car seat as a form of child abuse and would morph into a spider monkey if she even heard the phrase “road trip.” Getting her in the car required one of those clowns they use at rodeos to distract the rampaging bull and keep it from killing everyone in its path. At least that’s how I picture it.

Wherever your kiddos fall on the road trip spectrum, these apps can ensure things go as smoothly as possible and get you to your destination happy – and not just because you survived the tiny terror in the backseat!

We depend on our phones for navigation and entertainment while we drive but they’re not always within reach and it’s not always safe to pull over in order to find one. A car mount like Logitech’s ZeroTouch for Android puts your phone front and center and comes with an accompanying voice command app that syncs with your phone allowing hands-free calling, voice to text, voice navigation, location sharing, and voice activated music.

If your holiday includes planes, trains and automobiles, TripIt (Free – iOS, Android), is a sanity saver. Forward your reservations to plans@tripit.com and you’ll have access to all that information in one convenient location. You’ll get a master itinerary with maps, directions, and weather updates, all accessible anytime on or offline.

Waze (Free – iOS, Android), a community sourced traffic and navigation app, provides real time updates on your route so you’ll know about upcoming traffic jams, accidents, debris on the road or any of the other potential delays that will keep you from being where you need to be when you need to be there.

Automatic plugs in to your car’s computer and will report back to you on everything from your driving to why the check engine light just came on. It also has a parking map and walking directions so you’ll never lose your car again. Perhaps most important, if Automatic detects you’ve been in a serious crash, an agent will call to assist you, contact emergency services and loved ones and will stay on the line until help arrives.

The Sit or Squat app may be the greatest gift to road-tripping parents since the portable DVD player. Search and view for restrooms near you or at your destination, filter results by selecting Open Now, Sit-or-Squat Rating, Family Bathroom, Baby Changing Table, Handicap Accessible, or Pay-Per-Use toilets. (Free – iOS, Android)

Some newer model cars come equipped with 4G LTE but for those of us without, a mobile router is a great resource. Most carriers will let you add one to your existing plans so you have access to the data you’re already paying for, or choose Go from Karma with pre-paid data that you purchase by the gigabyte and that never expires.

Roadtrippers (iOS/Android) lets you find all the quirky and interesting sights along the way. Use the app to find a quick distraction when everyone is tired of the car or let Roadtrippers take you on the scenic route by choosing one of their Classic USA Road Trips. You can book hotels and share your itinerary with others all from within the app.

Despite the fact I grew up there and should have known better, a few years ago I came very close to being stranded and running out of gas in the Cape Breton highlands late at night. Gas Buddy (Free – iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry) is every road-tripper’s friend, as it not only helps you find the nearest gas station, it tells you prices so you can get the most for your money without going too far out of the way.

Finally, if the trip is taking longer than you expected or if you’ve just decided you’ve had enough for one day, Hotel Tonight (Free – iOS, Android),  is the answer, offering last-minute deals and discounted rates lower than what’s available on other apps. Search for hotels and see all the details you need – what’s close, which ones are pet friendly, have a fitness center, etc. Refer a friend and both of you receive a $25 discount when they book.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

9 Favorite Apps for Planning and Organizing Vacations

By Chantal Bechervaise

School is almost out and it’s time to start thinking about family vacations and activities. There are many apps out there to help you plan a trip and stay organized. Here are 9 of my favorites – they will help alleviate the stress of planning and preparing for your next trip.

Not Sure Where To Go?

1)      Minube (Android and iOS)

Not sure where you want to go this summer? Need some inspiration? Then this is the app for you. Minube can help you discover the best things to see and do, book flights and hotels, and make restaurant reservations. Minube does not end there – use it to sort and store vacation photos as well.

Price: Free

2)      Pinterest (Android and iOS)

Pinterest is one of my favorite apps – and not just for travel planning. It is easy to waste (er…spend) quality hours on it. Search for vacation ideas and let your imagination soar! The guided search feature can help provide suggestions as you type in search requests. You can also create your own Pinterest boards with different destinations, activities and places to eat. Think of Pinterest as an online scrapbook that you can take with you everywhere.

Price: Free

3)      Gogobot (Android and iOS)

This is another great app which lets you brainstorm places to visit but also lets you build a sample itinerary which you can share with family and friends.

Price: Free

Road Trip

4)      Along The Way (iOS)

Going on a road trip instead of flying somewhere? If you are an Apple user, you will want to download this app. Along The Way will help you find and discover venues, attractions, and gems along the way to your destination. Instead of just searching around you, search your route for anything, including food, sights, recreation, and more.

Price: $2.99

5)      Gas Buddy (Android, iOS and BlackBerry)

Find the cheapest gas anywhere in the US or Canada. You can also search for gas by location and estimate the cost of gas for a whole trip.

Price: Free

All Booked – Stay Organized

6)      TripIt (Android and iOS)

This app is the place to put all your travel information and keep it in one convenient location. No need to worry about all the different emails with flight information, hotel bookings, car reservations, etc. You send all the information as you receive it to TripIt and the app organizes it into an interactive itinerary which you can pull up on your phone. The TripIt app also includes simple explanations on how to use it.

Price: There is a free version which is adequate if you don’t travel too much and works well for family vacations. The paid Pro version works out to be $50 a year if you want access to seat upgrades and flight alerts.

Don’t Forget to Pack

7)      Packing Pro (iOS)

Packing Pro is a list building tool which you can organize by category. Select what you want for your list from a catalogue of over 800 items. If the item is not in the catalogue, you can add it yourself. This app is also great for planning day trips and weekend getaways. Never forget that charger cable again!

Price: $2.99

You Have Finally Arrived At Your Destination

8)      Google Translate (Android and iOS)

If you are traveling to a foreign country and don’t know the language, this app can help you. Google Translate supports 80 different languages and also works offline, although you have to download a large data pack beforehand.

Price: Free

9)      Foursquare

This app is great at helping you discover things to see and do near you – monuments, museums, parks, places to eat, etc. It does not provide reviews like Yelp does, but it is an easy app to navigate on the go. Other Foursquare members generally leave useful tips for you.

What are your favorite travel apps?

CBechervaise67Chantal is located in Ottawa, Ontario. She is passionate about everything related to the World of Work: Leadership, HR, Social Media and Technology. You can read more from Chantal at her TakeItPersonelly blog or follow her on Twitter @CBechervaise.

Apps to Help You Through the Holiday Season

By Tracey Dowdy

The holiday season is upon us and to make sure that light up ahead is the light at the end of the tunnel and not the train coming at you, here are a few apps to help you enjoy and not endure the Holiday season.

Getting organized is essential to successfully navigating the holidays.

  • EasilyDo organizes everything from do-do lists to travel. Get weather and travel alerts, link to your bank accounts, email, Facebook, LinkedIn…it’s like having a personal assistant in the palm of your hand. You can track packages, pay bills, even get directions with estimated travel time for events in your calendar. (Free – iOS, Android)
  • Slice not only tracks what you bought, when you bought it, and when it will be delivered, but it will also let you know if the item goes on sale and help you get your money back. You’ll even be notified if the item is recalled by the Consumer Safety Board. Slice organizes your receipts for easy returns and tracks spending to help you stay on budget. (Free – iOS, Android)

Speaking of budget, finances are one of the top stressors for the holidays. Whether it’s purchasing gifts, travel costs, or hosting family and friends, it’s easy to end up over budget without really knowing how you got there.

  • Mint offers a comprehensive, real-time look at all your account balances. It sends alerts if you’re about to go over budget, organizes transactions, and it can even send push notifications about your bills. (Free – iOS, Android, Windows Phone)
  • Snagajob is a great resource for finding seasonal work to supplement your budget. Create a profile and upload your resume to apply for jobs directly from your phone for work in retail, restaurants, and customer service. Search by location, industry, job title or company and you’ll receive daily alerts that match your specifications. You can even upload a 30 second introductory video to help you stand out from the crowd. (Free – iOS, Android)
  • Black Friday sends you constant updates on Thanksgiving sales and lets you create a wish list to save all your favorite deals in one place. You can organize deals by store, compare prices, and sort items by keywords, store or price. (Free – iOS, Android)

There are more apps to help with food or recipes for the holidays than you can shake a spatula at, but two of my favorites are from Bon Appetit and Food.com.

  • Thanksgiving: A Bon Appetit Manual manages to be both gourmet and rookie cook friendly. The app offers step by step instructions paired with photos so you know exactly what you’re doing. If planning and preparing is overwhelming, switch to Menu View and choose from pre-selected menus. (Free – iOS, Android)
  • Food.com not only has a massive recipe base which is great for all year round, it can help you create a meal from whatever you have on hand – great for using up those holiday leftovers. (Free – iOS)

Time with family and friends during the holidays is priceless, which is a good thing because Holiday travel can cost a fortune. Luckily, there are ways to get around blowing your budget.

  • Gas Buddy lets you find the gas stations nearest to you offering the cheapest gas prices. Content is user-created and for every report you post you can earn points toward prizes. (Free – iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry)
  • Waze uses your phone’s GPS feature to find the quickest, most efficient routes and avoid traffic due to congestion, construction or accidents. Users submit reports on traffic or road conditions so you always know what ahead. Waze also lets you know where to fill up for the best price. (Free – iOS, Android, Windows Phone)
  • TripIt Travel Organizer lets you organize every aspect of your trip in one place. Forward confirmation emails (automatic if you use Gmail or Google Calendar) from airlines or hotels and TripIt will create an itinerary for you so you can be prepared each step of the way. You can get directions, check weather conditions, link to your calendar and share your trip plans via social media. (Free – iOS, Android)

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.