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Road trip ready: The coolest car apps for travellers, drivers and those on the move

By Noelle Faulkner, 26 Dec 2018 Car Advice

Best Road Trip Apps | The Coolest Car Apps for Drivers and Passengers

Clever apps for car lovers, frequent travellers and those about to hit the road.

As much as we roll our eyes at the whole "there's an app for that" campaign that Apple spat out a few years ago, there truly is an app for almost everything you can think of. Want to know how to find the cheapest fuel? There’s an app for that. Where to find the nearest charging station?  There’s one that shows you how. Want to learn a language while you’re driving? Of course, you can.

We’ve found the best apps to do all this in the car, and then some. So if you’re a car lover or about to embark on a road trip, consider downloading these apps before you take off.

FindPenguins

There are those moments on every road trip, where you take the path less travelled, unearth a gem and make a mental note on where you were, only to forget a few kilometres down the track. FindPenguins is not a flightless bird seeker, but a GPS-driven application that allows you to track your travels, add in a co-driver to follow along with and wraps it up in a neat, highly visual package so you can look back on exactly where you’ve been.  Plus, unlike some other tracking apps, it also works offline.
Available on iOS/Android; https://findpenguins.com

XLR8

Sensing acceleration, braking and corners, this app mimics the engine of a supercar and pumps it through the speakers. Choose from a classic V8 muscle car, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Nascar or Ford GT40. When you think about it, manufacturers have been doing it for years, so technically, it's not cheating...
Available on iOS/Android

PlugShare

Own an EV or considering one but disgusted at the Australian government’s abysmal attitude to infrastructure installation? Join the rebel alliance! This crowd-sourcing app is like Tinder for EV owners that not only displays charging stations located around the country (or around the world, the app is international) but also allows users open to sharing their sockets to add themselves to the map.

It not only specifies things like Tesla and three phase power points but also things like caravan mains, commando points, superchargers and type 2 power points. On top of that, if you’re a subscriber of a certain charging network, like Chargefox, ChargeNet or ChargePoint, you can also search by provider. Brilliant.
Available on iOS/Android/Windows

Read next: New electric vehicles coming to Australia in 2019

Waze

Another community-driven app, Waze is one of those don’t -know-you-needed-it-until-you’ve-tried-it apps. Providing live traffic updates, as provided by you and other users, it helps with navigating city traffic so that you always know what’s up ahead, from police to roadworks, accidents and speed cameras. Handy for those who don’t like sitting still.
Available on iOS/Android/Windows; https://www.waze.com

Google Trips

Google Maps’ search function just got better with this travel app that cleverly syncs all your travel info (provided you use Gmail for your reservations) and makes it available offline. To make things even easier, it also clocks exactly where you’re going, highlights nearby attractions, things to do and suggests the best-rated places to eat, drink and stay.
Available on iOS/Android; https://get.google.com/trips/

Spotify

If you’re not streaming your music by now, sorry to say, you’re missing out. Spotify is by far the best way to collate your playlists, save your favourite artists and discover new tunes, podcasts, radio series and even comedy acts. Just a few months ago the streaming service made some changes to their premium service, including a smarter recommendation algorithm that learns your tastes and gets better the more you listen, increased number of saved songs for offline listening from 3,333 tracks on three devices to 10,000 on five, and better integration with Waze and Google Maps.
Available on iOS/Android/Windows; https://www.spotify.com/au/  

CNCF Carbon Calculator

For any motoring enthusiast, daily driver or frequent traveller, calculating your carbon footprint is a scary proposition, trust us, we get it. But it’s also an interesting experience, just to know exactly the impact your daily movements are having. It’s the least we can do, right?
Web-based app: https://cncf.com.au/carbon-calculator/  

FuelMap

This crowd-sourced price-watcher acts like an Australian database of where-to-refuel, while also being a personal petrol log. Users upload petrol prices as they go, which are shared and then pop up on a map, so you can find the most affordable fuel near you. The log side of things helps keep track of your purchases and vehicle’s economy.
Available on iOS/Android/Windows; http://fuelmap.com.au/

Read next: Seven ways you could be saving money on fuel right now

Pimsleur

Got some downtime on the road? Why not learn a new language? The Pimsleur method is a language course with a huge empathises on speaking, which makes it an excellent way to learn while you’re on the move – particularly for road trips in a car alone or with a passenger. The Pimsleur app has all the usual components, like flash cards, reading and writing, but the cool thing about this app that others like Babbel, Duolingo or Busuu don’t have is a hands-free driving feature, which lets you listen to lessons and practice conversations while you’re in the car. Just keep in mind that learning a language and driving both require concentration, which might prove dangerous for some – if that’s the case, perhaps use the time to listen to music or a podcast in the language you’re learning through Spotify.
Available on iOS/Android

Emergency+

We hope this is the one app you’ll never need to use, but it’s a handy one to have, especially when you’re on the road in rural Australia and not entirely sure where the bloody hell you are. In case of a situation that requires a triple zero call, this app, developed by Australia’s emergency services and government industry partners, uses your smartphone’s GPS to display your latitude and longitude and help provide extra information about your location, making it easier for the emergency services to reach you.  Cleverly, the app also lists non-emergency numbers, like the Police Assistance Line, SES and Crimestoppers, should they ever be needed.
Available on iOS/Android/Windows

Read next: Cop-dodging Wayz map app