Planning a huge road trip this year? If you're hitting the highway this summer, there are tons of applications and tech that can help you get where you're going and find what you need when you get there. I'm a tremendous fan of the road trip, and am going to be going on quite a few this summer- so we decided it would be cool to profile some of the tech you can use on a trip to make your drive and stay better. Got some road trip tech you absolutely love? Tell us about it in the comments!
This past weekend I drove from my home in North Carolina to New Orleans for a friend's wedding. The drive is a whopping 14 hours (yikes!). Beside the obvious problems of figuring out how to get where we needed to go, we also had to figure out where to eat along the way. Neither I or my traveling companion are tremendous fans of fast food chains. If you're not going to eat at McDonald's or a gas station, it can be a little difficult to find different restaurants on the road … and then we launched Yelp.
Yelp has a mobile application available for pretty much every phone you might possibly own. The app defaults to info about businesses in your home town, however, if you tap the Nearby button at the bottom of the screen, it will do a search for businesses near where you are.
For our driving adventure we would tap Nearby and then Restaurants, and filter our results for a 5 mile radius of our current location. Yelp gives you results for all the restaurants nearby, and also their Yelp rating, and a link to reading reviews from other Yelpers. You could also narrow your search to something like "Chinese" or "Pizza" if you're looking for something specific. That's a pretty fancy trick. When you find somewhere you like, tapping on the address of that location in the Yelp app will launch directions that can also be launched in Google Maps. One gem we found along our drive was Bates House of Turkey in Greenville, Alabama. The restaurant has been open since 1969, and was started from a wedding present of 9 turkey eggs in 1923. Super interesting stop, definitely something we wouldn't have found without Yelp by our side.
Hours of Operation
If you're driving through say a section of Alabama you've never been through, chances are you not only don't know where to eat, but you don't know when these fine dining places are open. Yelp has the hours of operation in for all of the businesses listed in it's application. While posting the hours may seem like a small thing, it's HUGE when you're traveling in a new place and are trying to determine where to go. You'd be surprised how many places on our drive were closed on days and hours you would think would be normal for a business to be running. It was super helpful to be able to see that information on my phone, rather than drive somewhere just to see that it's closed (made that mistake once before realizing the hours were available).
Yelp also has a Monocle function that shows you what businesses are near where you are on the screen. While it's not exactly ideal for when you're physically on the road, once you get to your destination it can be neat to hold it up and see "Oh, there are 30 bars this way and only one that way." It can definitely help you head in the right direction for what you're looking for.
Do any of you have a favorite application or service you use to find food on the road? Tell us about it in the comments!