Our family recently moved across the country. Having done this twice before, we wanted to take “the Road Not Taken” as Robert Frost might have exclaimed- “I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” The problem is that most mapping software is programmed for other things- the shortest overall distance, the one with less tolls, the one with less traffic. What about the route that is the most fun, or the most scenic? And that keeps little kids from murdering each other in the confines of the back seat of the car?
While my husband worked to try to find a way on a large map brought up on a computer screen, I used the free version of the app from Roadtrippers. We had already been through the midwest and south routes across the country, but no one in our family had traveled across the Northernmost states of the country. He found the general route, and the first place on the trip. Having input our destination on Roadtrippers, it selected the easier route- through the midwest. I input the first city planned to visit, and Roadtrippers automatically discovered the route my spouse had in mind. It probably would have been nicer to be able to adjust the route in a “drag and drop” method, but I didn’t see the software had this capability. So, to get a specific route, you might need to figure out the first leg of the trip, and then the app seems to get the idea.
The real place that Roadtrippers shines, however, is when you click options along the way, say “children’s attractions” or “things to do.” Immediately, pins appear along the route, showing you offbeat and fun local things to do that we would NEVER have discovered ourselves.
One of the first places we stopped was the Historical and Cultural Center of Clay County where they had the Hjemkomst replica of a viking ship and a full size model of a wooden Norwegian church (the Hopperstad Stave Church) which was delightful for our small “Frozen” fan. We stopped at the Makoshika state park in Montana, a place we would never have found on our own. The park rangers were amazingly nice and knowledgable people and lent us tiny child sized backpacks for our little ones, filled with binoculars, magnifying glasses and activity books to help us imagine what it had been like when dinosaurs walked there. We touched dinosaur bones, and hiked- truly one of our favorite places now. We stopped at an amazing ghost town in Montana called Garnet, and learned what it was like to live on the frontier in the 1800’s. We saw so many interesting and beautiful things we would not have experienced without this app.
Additionally, the app keeps track of your hotels and restaurants, and can suggest places along the way, preventing the “oh no, there’s nothing within 100 miles to eat except a gas station and the kids are howling as if we routinely starve them” phenomenon. Eventually, I paid the small fee for an annual subscription (“Roadtrippers Plus”) because it allowed me to have more stops on the trip, as the free version has a limited to how many stops you can list on the trip. Additionally, I could send a link to our families so they could keep track of where we were that day, and also use the free live traffic information that Roadtrippers Plus provides. It also let us know exactly how long each day, and each leg of the trip would take, and how much the gas would cost for the trip.
After trying this app out on such a long trip, I can enthusiastically recommend the app, both the free and plus versions. I think the upgrade to plus is worth the small fee, and I’m excited to use the app on smaller trips around our new home. Consider giving this app a try! Click on any of the links above to learn about the app or the places I mentioned. I’ve added some screen shots of the app in action below if you’re interested!
A screen shot of the app in the trip mode. You can see the length of time between each place we visited and how many miles, which was useful for an expense report later.