Essential Apps for Your Summer Road Trip

Before World War III breaks out in Rhonda the Honda, check out these eight free road trip apps that we promise will make your car ride more enjoyable (or as enjoyable as a family vacation can be).

Nothing ruins the anticipation of an exciting summer vacation like road trip misery.  We’ve all been there: you have grand ideas about how driving to your destination is going to help you save money, as well as bond with the fam.  Cue vision of laughing family playing car games and enjoying each other’s company.

However, 20 minutes into your eight-hour trip you realize that this is not going to be the case.  The kids are already whining that they’re hungry and bored, the driver is distracted from the commotion in the back seat, and you feel a massive headache coming on.  Before World War III breaks out in Rhonda the Honda, check out these eight free road trip apps that we promise will make your car ride more enjoyable (or as enjoyable as a family vacation can be).

1.  RoadNinja

road-ninja“Where’s the next rest area? I can’t wait!”

“I’m hungry!  I want Wendy’s!”

Quell the complaining with the RoadNinja app.  This lifesaver lets you know exactly what is coming up in exits right off of the interstate you’re traveling.  So when your kid needs to go right now or he refuses to eat any fast food except Wendy’s chicken nuggets, you’ll know you only have to listen to the crying for five more miles.

2.  HotelsByMe

You thought you were going to drive through the night, but you literally can’t take one more second in the car.  HotelsByMe lets you find hotels in your vicinity, including ratings from TripAdvisor, prices and real-time availability.  Get some shuteye at a hand-picked hotel for the night and start again fresh in the morning.

3.  RoadTrippers

Mashable called RoadTrippers the “only app you’ll need for the Great American Road Trip,” and we believe them.  A self-proclaimed mix of Mapquest and Yelp, RoadTrippers finds the most adventurous route available to get you to your destination.  Spice up the route you’ve taken a million times in search of something more exciting.

4.  OpenTable

open-table_thumbCar snacks are exciting for the first couple of hours, but after your three-year-old sticks the second Cheeto up his nose, they start to lose some appeal.    With OpenTable, you can read menus, check prices and ratings, and make a reservation at participating restaurants.

5.  BatteryGuru

Whether you forgot your charger at the last hotel or five people are fighting over one car charger, BatteryGuru will help save your battery life with smart changes to energy expense.  In the first few days, the guru learns how you interact with your smartphone and then comes up with a battery optimization plan based on your specific usage.

6.  Sky Map

starzAdd a night of camping under the stars to your road trip and this cosmic app will definitely come in handy.  You can search constellations as you see them with Sky Map’s GPS information about the stars in your location.

 

7.  Postagram

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 2.48.30 PMWith this free app, you can send digital postcards of your trip to friends and family anywhere in the U.S. for $.99.  Use photos from your camera roll, Instagram or Facebook and add your own personalized message!

8.  Shoeboxed

The Shoeboxed Receipt and Mileage Tracker for iOS and Android is a great travel companion for your road trip (which can’t always been said for everyone else in your car).  You can track your mileage and route with the click of a button (okay, two buttons – “Start Trip” and “Stop Trip”).   The app also allows you to snap pictures of your trip receipts and upload them directly to your Shoeboxed account.

All of these apps sound like a great excuse to take a vacation to us!  Which of these apps sounds the most useful to you?

Photo credit: tripwiremagazine.com; postagramapp.com

5 Apps for a Better Work-Life Balance

Solopreneurs, freelancers and small business owners know all too well how difficult it can be to find time for friends, family and other activities they enjoy in their hectic schedules. Here are five helpful apps to keep both your work and personal lives thriving.

Solopreneurs, freelancers and small business owners know all too well how difficult it can be to find time for friends, family and other activities they enjoy in their hectic schedules. We all know that we should budget time wisely and say no when things overlap with our personal agendas, but unfortunately that isn’t always the case.

Most of us need a little extra guidance to ensure a healthy work-life balance, and luckily there are plenty of apps out there to help us keep our priorities in check. Here are few highly-rated apps to keep you sane, active and happy despite a full calendar:

iplaniPlanSuccess (iOS iPad only; $6.99)

iPlanSuccess is much more than your average task-management application. It actually forces you to spread your goals between work life, personal life and social & family life. It asks you to define your values, strengths, and ways you deal with being busy in order to help you set realistic goals. While the $6.99 price tag might seem a little steep, it makes sense since you’re less likely to stop using an app that wasn’t free. A smartphone version would be a nice addition to the app, so that you can keep your progress updated while you’re on the go. Overall, it’s a helpful app that gives you a detailed visual outline of where to direct your focus.

workoutsDaily Workouts (iOS, Android; FREE and $3.99 version)

Daily Workouts is a great app for those of us who don’t have (or make) the time to hit the gym everyday. The app allows you to set your exercise time (10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 minutes) and which area of the body you want to focus on. It shows you exactly how to do each of the exercises and also includes a timer and repetition counter. If you have your own office or don’t mind breaking out a yoga mat in front of your colleagues, this is a great tool to use if you’ve got a spare 15 minutes in between meetings. If you’re an active yogi, check out the Simply Yoga app which substitutes the workouts for yoga positions.

cozi1Cozi Family Organizer (iOS, Android; FREE)

Cozi is the perfect app for to manage family members’ schedules– and to set time aside to spend only with family. You can use Cozi as your main calendar, or link it with your Google calendar so that you can schedule around work and other commitments. It also features to-do lists and shopping lists, which can be split up amongst family members. Cozi is helpful in establishing your work-life balance because it shares your schedule with your family and therefore makes you more accountable for getting things done.

graphWay of Life (iOS; FREE)

One major reason we even start thinking about our work-life balance in the first place is probably because we have gotten into the habit of prioritizing one activity over another. Way of Life is a free app that helps you break bad habits and start forming good ones. The app allows you to plot goals and track whether or not you are meeting them on a daily or weekly basis. Some examples of habits you could implement  range from not staying in the office for longer than nine hours a day to having a family movie night every two weeks.

Self-Control (For Macs Only; FREE)

Self-Control is a free app for Mac that allows you to block access to the internet or certain websites for a specified period of time. In addition to being an effective productivity app, it will help you in your quest to achieve work-life balance by enabling you to block your work email and other work-related sites while you are at home. That’s right– no tracking receipts or managing expense reports at home! Just make sure you are committed to staying off of the restricted sites you choose– once you blacklist them, there is no going back! But, we promise not to tell anyone if you pull out your phone and check email.

What apps or methods do you use to maintain a healthy work-life balance? Share your tips in the comments!