A smartphone is a potential road-trip hazard – a temptation to focus on a little screen rather than the world rolling past around you. But with the right apps, you can put this technology to work for you in a way that complements your travel experience rather than replaces it.

A good GPS app

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While getting lost can be a fun diversion on a road trip, it’s always nice to know you can turn the GPS app back on if things really go downhill. The stress of being lost just doesn’t tend to make traveling more pleasant. Whether you pick the ubiquitous Google Maps app or one of its competitors, just be sure you’ve familiarized yourself with how your particular app works – and its foibles – before setting out into unfamiliar territory.

Point of interest apps 

As you cruise through the country at 70 miles an hour, you’re constantly passing within reach of various attractions – beautiful parks, historical sites and other points of interest that you’d otherwise never know to check out. Field Trip and Roadtrippers are two of the leading options. If you’re in the mood for the most offbeat attractions, also consider Roadside America.

Logistics apps 

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Finding places to eat, sleep and buy gasoline is a big part of most long road trips. RoadNinjaGasBuddyHotels.com and Yelp let others’ experiences be your guide as you travel in an unfamiliar location. As a courtesy to future travelers, consider adding your own two cents about your experiences as well.

A final note 

It can of course be tempting to use these delightful apps while gliding down the interstate with the cruise control set. But leave the smartphone to your passengers or, if you’re driving solo, make use of each stop to plan ahead for the next leg of your trip. Unless you want to end up searching your phone for the best local hospitals and auto body shops, keep your eyes on the road.

Brady Holt, a Washington D.C. newspaper reporter, has had a lifelong interest in cars in the automotive world, and he’ll share his thoughts at every available opportunity. Brady has written for Examiner.com since 2008, publishing hundreds of car reviews, automotive news pieces and other features. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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