Help is just an app away

To make sure your road trip doesn't hit the skids, check out these apps:

Fuel assistance

Subscription app SmartFuel can help you find cheap gas nearby or along your route — including at Costco — using Oil Price Information Service data to ensure accurate pricing. Free for iPhone with one-month service. Thereafter, service is $4.99 for six months or $8.99 for one year.

GasBag finds cheap gas and provides a mileage log to track fuel efficiency. Free for iPhone. Ad-free GasBag Pro is 99 cents and can track multiple vehicles.

GasHog tracks your mileage and offers tips to help you go farther on a gallon. For iPhone, 99 cents.


RepairPal uses GPS to locate repair shops, provide ballpark estimates and find roadside service. Shops with sponsored listings usually appear first. Free for iPhone and Android.

Gas Cubby tracks gas and service expenditures and lets you export the data using email. Free (with ads) for iPhone, or $4.99 (ad-free).

On the road

iExit finds food, gas stations and points of interest off the highway exit; lets you filter searches by type of gas, food, etc., and the in-app Google maps guide you there. For iPhone, $1.99.

Waze GPS & Traffic provides real-time traffic updates and turn-by-turn voice navigation to help you avoid gridlock. It quickly guided me around rush-hour traffic, showing me new shortcuts to West Hollywood. Free for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Nokia.

INRIX Traffic provides real-time traffic info and forecasts using real-time and historical data. Free for iPhone and Android.

iWrecked Auto Accident Assistant helps you take pictures and record accident info. Free for iPhone.

MyAssist can help you find a dry cleaner, last-minute hotel, flight, rental car, etc., while you're on the road. Free for iPhone, BlackBerry and Android. Five requests are $9.99 a month; 15 and 25 requests are more.

Expedia Hotels helps you book last-minute lodging from the app. Free for iPhone.

Parking in Motion helps you find and reserve parking spaces. It shows rates and provides directions. Free for iPhone.


Line2 provides a second telephone number that works with Wi-Fi, 3G/4G and cellular service for better reception in areas where it is poor. The seven-day trial is free; thereafter service is $9.95 a month (less for longer pre-paid subscriptions). Free for iPhone and Android.

Fone lets you chat or make free phone calls to Facebook friends without revealing your phone number. Free for iPhone (with ads); ad-free Fone Pro is 99 cents.

Qik Video from Skype lets you shoot and stream live video, send a video email or chat with another Qik user. Free for iPhone, Symbian and Android phones.


TuneIn Radio finds local and Internet stations around the world for music (oldies, jazz, R&B, etc.) or talk (sports, business, politics, etc.). Free; ad-free Pro version is 99 cents and lets you record. For iPhone and Android.


EveryTrail helps you connect with other travelers and share tips and trips. Free for iPhone and Android.

MotionX GPS shows your position and can help you navigate or share your tracks whether you are hiking, biking or running, etc. For iPhone, $2.99.

Sutro Media produces stellar travel apps, including:

CA Essential Guide showed me the California I must explore by detailing gardens and parks (including where Fido can run free), ghost towns, "haunted places," outdoors and adventures (including dog-sledding tours in Mammoth) and even working farms you can visit for free. For iPhone, $4.99.

California Coast North highlights family activities such as riding or hiking in Bodega Dunes, golf, great drives and wildlife. For iPhone, $2.99.

Sausalito to Pt. Reyes Exploration Guide explores Marin County's scenic drives, outdoor adventures (including biking and kayaking) and hidden gems such as the Bolinas Spirit House. For iPhone, $2.99.

Grand Canyon & Flagstaff details camping, lodging, trails and offers hiking tips. For iPhone, $1.99.

Denver Daytrips covers destinations such as Boulder, Colorado Springs, Leadville and Rocky Mountain National Park. It features mountain drives and hikes, altitude tips and transportation options. For iPhone, $2.99.