10 Best GPS and Navigation Apps for Road Trips

So long as highways have connected people from one side of the country to the next, road trips have appealed to drivers seeking new sights and adventure. As freeing as twisting roads and open highways seem, navigating them over the course of several weeks can prove challenging. Roadtrippers want to pause and ponder along the way without straying too far from their ultimate destination.

A car ready for long miles and fully stocked with supplies needs only a driver who knows where to go. Explore the crisscross of roadways confidently with the best navigation tools for road trips.

Navigation apps supply constantly-updating information on total trip time, alternate routes, traffic, and rest stops along the way. Your everyday map-app can often get the trip done, but there exist others specifically designed for roadtrippers. Some of the best include:

1. InRoute Planner: Lets you map to your destination and select up to five stopping points along the way, with more available in payable upgrades.

2. Road Tripper: Allows you to add layers to your destination route so you can see points of interest, hotels, restaurants, and more along the way.

3. Waze: Community-based app that generates updates and traffic information from users while always selecting the fastest driving route.

Typically free, navigation apps provide a great service. However, they do tend to use up data and phone battery life, and can stop working in zones without reception. No biggie for short drives, but longer hauls might demand more off-the-grid functionality.

Downloadable Maps

Many navigation apps include a feature for downloading maps to use offline. They can still keep track of your location using your phone’s GPS and will route you to each destination within each selected map’s range. Downloading maps will take a lot of data and battery power. Make sure to connect to wifi and fully charge your phone before doing so. Check out these great apps with offline maps:

4. CoPilot GPS: Once downloaded, comes with full map coverage and will provide turn-by-turn directions. Will save new places and addresses from Google search for use when offline.

5. HERE WeGO: Downloadable maps by entire countries, if desirable. Still provides turn-by-turn directions.

6. Maps.Me: Built to function offline, you can’t navigate unless you’ve downloaded a map. Includes highly detailed maps constantly being updated by an online community.

7. Google Maps: Lets you download maps after highlighting a specific area, and will lay out a route, but won’t provide turn-by-turn voice directions while offline.

GPS Devices

Separate from your phone, a GPS (global-positioning system) always operates offline by using satellites to find your location. A quality device provides dependable directions in an easy-to-read format and securely attaches to your car’s dashboard. It also frees up your phone’s battery life for music, reading, games, and other activities. Road trips are long! Plan ahead with a GPS device from the:

8. Garmin Drive Series: Includes live alert system, and lets you plan out road trips. Many versions tailored to different needs and affordability.

9. TomTomGo Series: Route mapping and bluetooth functionality for an interactive, hands-free trip.

10. Magellan RoadMate Series: Includes tourbook information in addition to bluetooth capabilities and route mapping.

Old-Fashioned Maps

That’s right — flat, foldable, old-fashioned paper maps. Despite its many advantages, technology won’t always be able to find you, especially in areas with little human population. Having a set of backup maps can help reroute you if you lose coverage, or if your GPS device runs out of juice. You can even print out online versions ahead of time instead of purchasing books or folded pamphlets.

Plus, sometimes mapping out your road trip in pen on paper can make plotting destination points easier. If using a phone or GPS device for general directions, you can have your shotgun rider search the hardcopy map for interesting locations and topographical features, or do it yourself before each day’s journey.


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