Have you ever watched a movie where there was a cross country road trip scene? A common theme in every one of these scenes is the map. Passengers in the front seat unfold a large map that was difficult to understand. Passengers and the driver then bicker about where they are, how they got lost, and what they need to do to get back on track.

The smartphone has eliminated all of that. Because of the many cross country road trip apps available, passengers are treated to a whole different experience. Today’s cross-country road trips are about maximizing your time spent on the open road and getting the most out of the trip. Be sure to prepare for your next road trip with these apps and gadgets.

Best Cross Country Road Trip Apps

cross country road trip apps

What’s the best way to utilize your smartphone while traveling across the country? Be sure to have these apps downloaded before hitting the open road.

Roadtrippers App

The Roadtrippers App will dramatically change how you travel. An all-in-one app, you’ll be able to plan a trip that is sure to satisfy, no matter what type of adventure you’re in search of. The app provides cross country road trip routes from any starting point and destination.

The app, founded by James Fisher and Tatiana Parent, is available both on the web and in app form. According to their website, the app allows travelers to “discover, plan, book, and navigate their next trip,” making it the “ultimate road travel companion.”

Road-trippers can select “Plan a Road Trip” in the app, and then enter their Starting Point, Destination, and anticipated travel dates. The app then allows users to select what they’d like to see along the way, with the ability to choose from

  • Everything
  • Things to Do
  • Sleeping
  • Food & Drink
  • Camping
  • Outdoors
  • Weird Stuff

Users can then plot their trip and construct the best cross country road trip route. After selecting points on the map they’d like to see, travelers can edit the trip’s route. Travelers can also invite their friends to collaborate, working together to edit all aspects of the trip.

Once a trip has been created, users can save it easily so that it can be accessed at any time. Additionally, users can save individual places they discover on the trip. If there is a hotel or restaurant that they particularly liked, they can save it for future reference. You’ll need to set up an account to save your locations, but you don’t need an account if you’re just looking to play around with the app.

Travelers can also modify their trip once it’s begun. For example, the app has weather forecasts built in. Planning to go to a national park on the same day there is supposed to be a major storm? The app can divert your route.

You’ll then be able to redesign your cross country road trip routes. You can choose to come back and return to the park at a later point. Or, you can change the route entirely so that you are not stuck in bad weather. The choices are up to you, but planning and modifying a trip within the Roadtrippers App is simple.

If travelers are in search of a bit more spontaneity, they can also choose to “Go Anywhere.” Users can put in both specific and broad locations. For example, when testing this app, we typed in “California.” The app showed us popular attractions all across the state and allowed us to plan a trip based on the ones we wanted to see.  

Downloading the app is easy. Visit this link and enter your phone number. Roadtrippers will then send a download link straight to your phone. Many users have been impressed with the app’s interface. Travelers have said that the app is sleek, fast, very easy to use, and efficient.

Waze

While the Roadtrippers app is very beneficial for planning the best cross country road trip routes, the Waze app is arguably the best app available for while you are driving. The app uses real-time data from every driver that uses the app, providing instant updates on your trip.

The app serves as a navigation app, much like Google or Apple maps. But it provides information that allows you take the most efficient route possible throughout the duration of your entire trip. With Waze, you’ll be certain to arrive at your destination without the headaches that can typically plague a cross country road trip.

For example, the Waze app will alert you if there are traffic jams, accidents, road hazards, or police up ahead. The app will notify you and tell you how long the expected delay is. If staying on your current route is not the most efficient path to your destination, it will then provide you a number of alternatives and how much time they’re expected to take. Select a new route and continue on to your destination.

Because the Waze app uses data from other phones, their maps are also very up to date. No longer are the days of GPS and navigation where you run into dead-ends. Waze map editors are working to constantly improve the maps in the app, keeping them as up to date as possible. Even minor map changes like temporary road closures for construction are built into the map.  

Lastly, Waze can allow you to connect with friends so that you can see who is around you while driving. If you’re on your cross country road trip and realize that your long-lost best friend is in a city you’re passing through, you’ll be able to connect with them. Odds are you wouldn’t know this without the Waze app.

While the Roadtrippers app is great for planning the fun parts of your cross country road trip, the Waze app will provide the easiest driving experience. Be sure to use both on your next road trip.  

Keep Your Phone Running While On The Road

It’s also important to consider that because you’ll be spending so much time in the car, you’ll want to have a way to keep your phone charged throughout the entire trip. No one likes having to stop the car because their phone died, wasting valuable time that could be spent on the road. And if your phone dies while driving, you’ll end up having to resort to an old-fashioned map. That would be an adventure!

Because you’ll be running some apps on your phone, your phone’s battery is likely to drain more quickly. This is especially true if you are using your phone for other things to keep you entertained while in the car, like listening to music, reading an e-book, or playing games. To keep you fueled for the entire trip, be sure to have a portal charger in the car.

These chargers plug into the cigarette lighter and feature USB ports. Then, passengers can plug their charging cable into the port, just as they would a wall outlet charger. Many of these chargers come with two USB ports, which is what we recommend purchasing.

This allows passengers to charge more than one device at a time, no matter what type of device they have. Having two USB ports allow Apple products and Android products to be charged at the same time, keeping everyone in the car happy.

Additionally, you should consider purchasing a portable charger even if your car has integrated USB technology. Many of today’s cars offer USB integration, but they don’t offer enough power to keep up with a phone that is assisting on a road trip.

Integrated vehicle chargers offer about 1 amp output. Unfortunately, your phone goes through more power than that when it is running a GPS-based maps application. If you plug into an integrated USB port, your phone will still end up dying, just at a slower rate. The only way to fully charge your phone with an integrated port is not to use it, rendering it useless.

Best Car Chargers for Smartphones

Take a look at the Scosche USBC242M charger, available for $12 on Amazon. The charger provides 12W of power to each USB port, giving it enough power to charge two full-sized tablets at the same time. This charger will charge your phone at the same rate as a wall charger. The charger measures a mere two inches high, which prevents it from cluttering your center console.

If you are traveling with family and friends, consider the Belkin Road Rockstar, available for $24 on Amazon. Although this is a bit pricier than other portable chargers, it’s because you’re getting the convenience of four charging outlets. This charger is best-suited when there are passengers in the backseat.

The Road Rockstar features two USB hubs in the actual device itself, just like any other portable charger. But it also has an extendable USB hub that has two more USB ports. The cable is six feet long, allowing it to extend into the back seat easily.