Road Trip 2.0 – Use Mobile Apps to Plan Your Next Road Trip

I love to travel, but I am incapable of taking a trip without becoming completely insolvent. There’s something about the freedom that adventure brings that seduces the money right out of my wallet. I’m sure a lot of that also has to do with the fact that I’m not a big planner. The whole ceremony of planning wears me out, so I prefer taking care of the big stuff upfront (like selecting the destination) and just winging the rest as I go. Admittedly, my travel style is a bit on the feral side. So how do I manage to successfully travel at all AND have money for souvenirs? 

Mobile apps. They enable my travel style while helping me save money on gas, hotels, and restaurants.

Here are my must-have apps for road trips:

Gas Buddy

If ever there was a favorite buddy to travel with, Gas Buddy would be it. I tend to only notice that I need to look for a gas station when my car is running on just fumes. As a result, I usually get stuck settling on gas stations with the highest prices. While Gas Buddy doesn’t tell me when I need to get gas, it will tell me where the nearest gas stations are and which ones have the best gas prices. The coolest feature of Gas Buddy is that gas prices are uploaded (in real-time!) by other Gas Buddy users, so you can be sure you’re getting the best deal. Gas Buddy is free and is available for download on Android, iPhone, and BlackBerry mobile devices (including Rim’s newly released BlackBerryDakota).


While this mobile app is free, it’s only available for download on Android and iPhone mobile devices (sorry BlackBerry users!). I like this travel app because when I get too tired to keep driving, I can quickly search for the best price on available hotel rooms in my area. In addition to seeing a list of real-time prices, the app also provides you with full-screen images of hotel rooms as well as a description of the hotel’s amenities. Let’s face it, I love a cheap room rate, but not if it means I’ll be sleeping in a room that resembles the filming location of the movie Psycho. HotelPal features chain hotels, boutique inns, and privately owned local motels.

Meal Ticket

When I start to hear my stomach grumble, that’s when I turn to Meal Ticket. This app lets you search for restaurant coupons and special deals by area. It provides you with a list of coupons as well as user-submitted reviews for local eateries (sort of like a built-in Yelp). The best part is that you can show the waiter the coupon right from your phone – no printer required. This app is free and currently available for download only on Android and iPhone mobile devices, but it will soon be available for all major mobile platforms, including BlackBerry and Symbian. One last thing to keep in mind…Meal Ticket is still in its infancy, so its active locations are limited (but not for long!) to Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

Do you have some tech-savvy ways to save money on travel? Share them with us in the comments section!