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Smarter Ways to Hit the Road
Many people find that one of the most enjoyable parts of a road-trip adventure is the planning. Daydreaming about new routes and destinations, discovering unusual activities, and putting together a full, exciting day – or a relaxing one – can be almost as fun as the trip itself.
In the past, we felt ready to go if we had a folded paper map showing little tree-and-tent icons to indicate opportunities for camping. But now, technology helps make road trips better, even before we’ve left the driveway.
Microsoft Streets & Trips is travel planning software designed for planning the perfect road trip from start to finish. The 2013 edition features an updated design for easy viewing, adds 150,000 more miles of roads in North America, and includes more than 2.5 million points of interest with online ratings and reviews for restaurants and other businesses.
Travelers might choose to customize their trips by planning to avoid main highways, dine at seafood restaurants, or visit as many national parks as possible. Streets & Trips helps build trips around themes or inspirations such as historical sites or important locations in family history. Budding adventurers generate maps and directions, customize start and stop times, set driving speeds and view the quickest routes with one-click trip optimization — all without an Internet connection.
If you haven’t joined Facebook yet, here’s a good reason to do so. When you “like” the Facebook page of a park, a state or a national forest you are considering for a visit, your Facebook homepage will gather news these destinations post, offering tips for enjoying your visit, information on special events and even discounts. Glacier National Park, for example, frequently provides information on services, lodging and local wildlife; “like” them and that news comes right to your own Facebook homepage.
Fuel prices are a concern for most any road warrior. GasBuddy.com is a popular website for tracking gas prices and finding the best deals around. The bigger your tank, the more important it can be to plan fuel stops before you go. GasBuddy now also has a free app for your Windows phone and most other popular smartphones, so you can locate gas stations near you and see their prices while you are on the go.
While you’re in a mobile applications store, check out the department of transportation for each state where you plan to travel. They commonly offer free apps and websites so you can check road conditions and alerts. These can help you, for example, avoid planning a route through a mountain pass that won’t open for another month due to seasonal snowfall. A mistake like that would definitely make the trip less fun than the planning! But with today’s technology helping your research, the trip you plan is sure to be a success.
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