It's summer. That means it's the season for road trips. Whether
you travel for business or just need a break from the monotony of quarantine
life, chances are, you'll be hitting the old dusty trail in the next couple
months. When you do so, you're going to want to be prepared technologically.
Our phones are nothing if not nifty, but sometimes a
strength can turn into a weakness. Dead zones, areas with no broadband, are out
there, sometimes lasting for whole stretches of interstate. Luckily, a recent Wall
Street Journal article provides a summary of apps that, one, prove useful
on the road and, two, can function offline.
Of the two most widely used navigation apps, Google Maps and
Apple Maps, each comes with its own trade-offs in terms of anticipating dead
zones. With Google Maps, the upshot is the app allows you to download maps
beforehand, so that they can still be accessed offline. Apple Maps doesn't have
such a feature, but it will keep directing you in a dead zone, provided that
your phone already had a destination queued before losing connection.
If you're interested in something a little bit more
off-the-beaten path, then consider Roadtrippers, an app that doesn't stop at
GPS utility but also tries to make road trips fun. It will take you on the
scenic route, as it were, and point out interesting stops along the way. The
Roadtrippers Plus option ($30 per year) makes these features available offline.
You know those guided audio tours you can usually purchase
at tourist destinations such as museums? Ever thought, wouldn't it be nice to
have that, but on the highway instead? There's an app for it. It's called Gypsy
Guide, and it'll play commentary offline, based on your location. Individual
tours cost between $5 and $9.
Some people might not want to stay in a hotel or Airbnb.
Whether it's because you're the outdoorsy type or don't feel safe because of
the pandemic, there are navigations apps for camping grounds. The ones that
help you do so offline are going to cost money. Allstays works for iOS, while
The Dyrt works for Android. On the cheaper side, Good Sam Camping is free but
requires connection to use.
The different music-and-video streaming platforms have
different options as far as offline usage goes. The premium, or paid, options
for Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music Unlimited allow users to download
music, which can then be accessed regardless of connection. Ditto YouTube
For the video platforms, it's a little bit more complicated.
Netflix users: You can download some content but not all of it. Anything that's
a Netflix original will be available for offline viewing. With Hulu, you can
download content, but only if you subscribe to the more expensive, ad-free
option. With Amazon Prime Video, only the "primary Prime member" can, meaning
that household members can't do so using the family account. Disney+
subscribers can download as much as they want.
Safety First and
When it comes to road trips, everyone is better off safe
than sorry. The Red Cross First Aid app provides emergency information
independent of connection. Google Drive and Dropbox can both be used to store
emergency documents, such as health insurance policies, offline.
It's hard not to spend money when you're on a road trip. But
at least you can do so with limits by following a budget. The app TravelSpend
allows you to do exactly that and—what's more—can be accessed with or without
broadband. There's also an app called GasBuddy that lets you compare prices to
ensure you get an optimal deal.