From the picturesque Pacific Coast Highway winding up the West Coast to the famous Route 66 passing through the Southwest to the scenic Cabot Trail clinging to the East Coast, there are plenty of road trip–worthy routes that belong on every traveler's U.S. bucket list. So it should come as no surprise that hitting the road is on the rise this year.
According to a study conducted by MMGY Global, road trips are gaining in popularity, with an overall shift to domestic destinations driving travelers to get behind the wheel. The surge can be attributed to the flexibility of stopping along the way, the convenience of packing without any weight limits, and the relatively low vacation costs, reported The New York Times.
One of the millions planning to hit the road this summer? Before pulling into the gas station, download these five road trip apps to make planning your adventure infinitely easier. From discovering off-the-beaten-path roadside attractions to finding hip yet affordable accommodations in the event you decide to make a last-minute pitstop, these apps are akin to helpful backseat drivers that you never knew you wanted to help guide the way.
How It'll Make Your Trip Easier: This popular travel app (ranked #75 in the travel category on iTunes) is touted as the best way to discover off-the-beaten-path roadside attractions, local diners, and scenic viewpoints by diehard users. If the app's 12K glowing reviews are any indication, Roadtrippers is a must-download for anyone planning to hit the road.
iTunes Store Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (with over 12K ratings)
Why Users Love It: "I really like the note feature. It allows me to make detailed entries for each stop along the way. A great app—and it's free!! I won't be taking any future road trips without this app."
How It'll Make Your Trip Easier: Calling all budget-conscious traveler, this handy app locates the stations with the lowest-priced gas so you know exactly where to make a pit stop to stretch your dollar. Ranked #25 in the travel category on iTunes, GasBuddy is a money-saving app that you'll likely continue to use long after you've unpacked your bags.
iTunes Store Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (with over 113K ratings)
Why Users Love It: "I love the way I can easily find the least expensive prices. I like looking at the map of prices versus the list, myself. I've saved so much money with GasBuddy."
How It'll Make Your Trip Easier: Move aside, Google Maps. In addition to providing directions for getting you from point A to point B, Waze offers helpful crowdsourced info about the road ahead, including alerts about traffic jams, roadside hazards, and police stakeouts.
iTunes Store Rating: 4.8 stars out of 5 (with over 1.19M ratings)
Why Users Love It: "You can report literally any condition on the road, from downed power lines and major accidents to road kill. You can also chat with other drivers. If there is an accident and you report it, you can add a message saying which lanes are blocked. I've had it for 9 months and I'm STILL discovering all the stuff Waze can do."
How It'll Make Your Trip Easier: Want to make an unplanned pitstop for the night? HotelTonight is the ideal app for finding last-minute local accommodations that are cool and comfortable, not to mention affordable. Like GasBuddy, this is a must-download for penny-pinching road trippers.
iTunes Store Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (with over 118K ratings)
Why Users Love It: "This app has allowed me to get away with confidence knowing that I'm being recommended great deals at great hotels. No more scouring the internet looking for the right room at the right price."
How It'll Make Your Trip Easier: For hours of entertainment, download Audible. The app's ingenious car mode makes on-the-road listening relatively safe for drivers, offering larger buttons that make it easy to press play, pause, and rewind when you want to commit a particularly poignant quote to memory.
iTunes Store Rating: 4.8 stars out of 5 (with over 1.04M ratings)
Why Users Love It: "Audible is like having a best friend who keeps you company while you go through your daily life. I listen while I clean, cook, shop, walk, exercise, and drive. I am always learning something new and expanding my world."
Ed. note: Reviews have been edited for length and clarity.