How to Have the Road Trip of a Lifetime

Why not make your next vacation a road one? Here are a few essential tips and apps to make the ride a smooth one.


Let Your Apps Guide You

From tunes to eats, use your phone or tablet along the way. Here are some great apps for the road:


PackPoint will ask you to answer a few questions — Who are you? Where are you going? What for? And when? It’ll then gather data on the weather, cross-reference your activities and tell you what to pack. Road trips call for comfortable clothes, snacks, walking shoes and sunglasses!

How to Have the Road Trip of a Lifetime

Grab a friend and embark on your open road adventure!


If you’re not much of a planner and you like to be spontaneous as you drive through new cities and towns, Field Trip is your guide to interesting and hidden things around you. It tells you the (honestly, really fascinating) history behind buildings near you, what great attractions are nearby, where to eat within a short walk… it’ll even tell you where celebrities live and show you pics. It shows everything on a map, with color-coded cards along the bottom that have useful pics of nearby places. It pulls in all the info you need, including Zagat reviews, hours, prices, etc. and gives a great context to an area, so you can stay spontaneous and learn about the places you’re visiting while on-the-go.

Whether you’re planning ahead or you find yourself on a different route than expected, use an app like Along The Way (iPhone) and On The Way (Android) to map out your route and the restaurants, gas stations, tourist attractions and hotels along the way.

How to Have the Road Trip of a Lifetime

Avoid getting stuck staying here by using Google Maps and checking the reviews


Did you know that you can download your favorite books on WiFi via the Audible app (here’s a free trial) before you head out? You can listen to them with headphones, or share the experience with the whole car over the speakers. I, of course, recommend downloading the 50th Anniversary edition audiobook of On The Road (narrated by Will Patton, one of the best narrators out there) and listening to it while driving. Here’s the synopsis, in case you’re not already familiar:

Few novels have had as profound an impact on American culture as Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. Pulsating with the rhythms of 1950s underground America, jazz, sex, illicit drugs, and the mystery and promise of the open road, Kerouac’s classic novel of freedom and longing defined what it meant to be “beat” and has inspired generations of writers, musicians, artists, poets, and seekers who cite their discovery of the book as the event that “set them free”.

Based on Kerouac’s adventures with Neal Cassady, On the Road tells the story of two friends whose four cross-country road trips are a quest for meaning and true experience. Written with a mixture of sad-eyed naïveté and wild abandon, and imbued with Kerouac’s love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz, On the Road is the quintessential American vision of freedom and hope, a book that changed American literature and changed anyone who has ever picked it up.

How to Have the Road Trip of a Lifetime

Just make sure to pull over, or have your friend use the apps


It’s not a road trip without snacks. But, only eating junk food will leave you feeling bloated and blah. In addition to your go-to sweet snacks, pack a variety of nuts, granola bars, dried fruit and wheat-based crackers. When you stop for something more substantial, plan ahead using an app like Clean Plates or Food Tripping. Clean Plates lets you browse nearby eating options, and you can even filter by cuisine, price and diet. Food Tripping focuses on finding local, sustainable stops like farmers’ markets, juice bars and green eateries.

How to Have the Road Trip of a Lifetime

Don’t get stuck eating junk food and feeling bloated for half of your trip!

It may be tempting to eat junk food while on the road, but in order to keep your strength (and mood) up, it’s more important than ever to find healthy plant-based meals while on the road. Thankfully, HappyCow is the perfect app for this. It caters to herbivores and healthy eaters on the go, letting you search by area for healthy restaurants wherever you’re traveling.

Other Essentials

One of the nicest things you can do for your parents (no matter what age you are), is use a postcard app to send your family and friends postcards along the way. Just take a great photo, write a quick message, and the app will print and mail it for you for between $1 and $3 per postcard, depending on the app you choose.

How to Have the Road Trip of a Lifetime

Leave plenty of time and avoid stress — this trip is meant to be relaxing and fun!

Need a bathroom ASAP? If this is the classic problem of the road trip, Sit or Squat is your best friend. This app will locate the nearest restrooms, rate their cleanliness, and make your pit stops quick and easy.

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Avatar of Hilary Rowland

A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she lives in Monte Carlo, but spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always traveling, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 117 Comments

  1. Avatar of Jonathon Swift

    Jonathon Swift

    If you are thinking about gas stations, and restaurants along toll roads, some U.S. interstate toll roads, such as the Ohio, and Pennsylvania Turnpikes, do have gasoline stations, and restaurants directly on the freeway. You don’t have to exit the toll road and pay the tolls if you don’t want to do. There’s usually a bigger selection of gasoline stations and restaurants, and likely cheaper prices, off the toll road, especially at major intersections.

  2. Avatar of Maryann Smith

    Maryann Smith

    North America has had a big car culture since the 1950’s. Driving the open road is “the” experience, and that includes stopping in all the cheesy attractions along the way!!! Not my cup of tea, but you sure do make it sound fun 🙂

  3. Avatar of Jossen Row

    Jossen Row

    I always check the engine before going for a long trip. I also bring a spare tire, so whenever something happens on my tire, I have spare for it.

    • Avatar of Joe Root

      Joe Root

      You should always have a spare tire at the back of your car. It’s a must.

  4. Avatar of Jodi Thil

    Jodi Thil

    Let us hit the road now! I want to try these applications that Urbanette gave to us. What do you think? Are they worth downloading, or if they are paid apps, are they worth buying for?

  5. Avatar of Joss Butler

    Joss Butler

    I really want to do road trips, but the problem is I can’t stay awake for too long. I would be asleep in the middle of the trip.

  6. Avatar of Osana Smith

    Osana Smith

    Once I forgot to bring my hygiene travel kit, and the hotel doesn’t give complimentary hygiene kit. I have to buy it from a convenience store which is too far from the hotel. The lesson has been learned.

  7. Avatar of Candis Melton

    Candis Melton

    MY way of easing my stress is hitting the road with my love. Even if it’s just for a weekend. Simple, yet you are satisfied.

  8. Avatar of Steev Smith

    Steev Smith

    PackPoint is a great app. I am using it in my travels, and it gives me the right stuff I need on my trips. I am happy with it, so I suggest you download it.

  9. Avatar of Wilma Moore

    Wilma Moore

    I will test my boyfriend next week. I invited him to visit my mom in Boston, and he said that he will drive for me. I’m thinking of some tests on the road. Ha!

  10. Avatar of Josephine Murphy

    The longest trip that I ever had is the 8 hours drive. I am not the driver, I’m just a passenger because I would be exhausted in just a 2 hours drive, and what more on 8 hours, right?

    • Avatar of Helena Lowson

      Helena Lowson

      ALways think to relax and even take a nap if needed when you’re driving long distance. Every two hours is good, and remember to eat light but enough also 🙂

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