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.
Keeping Yourself Entertained
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 Music.
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 Saving Money
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.