On the Road:
My go to apps for finding a hotel room while road tripping are HotelTonight and Booking.com. I’ll usually use go to both and compare when booking a last minute stay. I’ve booked rooms as late as 8pm or 9pm and scored anywhere from 25-75% off their normal rates. You are rolling the dice a little with availability but if you’re a little flexible you can save big bucks. Both apps let you book in advance too if you’d rather lock in a place ahead of time. Both apps are free but you do have to create accounts to receive perks.
After 5 bookings within two years on booking.com, you hit Genius level and get extras like 10% off a stay in their loyalty program. You also get earlier check-in and later check-out. Plus if you need to cancel or change, you can easily do that, even under 24 hours in some cases. You can also book flights, car rentals, and even airport taxis in the app. I’ve used this app for hotels from Pagosa Springs, Colorado to Singapore. I like that you can see if available rooms are getting low, if there’s no prepayment need, if breakfast is included, and if there’s a special reduced rate. Plus with every property you can read reviews. When selecting your room, you can easily see all of the room details.
HotelTonight is another great option for booking a hotel room for a night. You can find great last minute deals day of or book a room up to 100 days in advance (and stay up to 14 days). They have HT Perks. Everyone starts at Level 1 and gets access to the slashed nightly rates. Once you’ve spent $250, you go to Level 2 and get and extra 5% off. The more nights you book on HotelTonight, the more perks you get in the 9-level program. I also really like how they rate places – basic, solid, charming or luxe. Once you’ve selected a property, you get a map to the property, why HT likes it, amenities, and need to know info. I’ve found huge savings at luxe properties on HotelTonight.
Ever been on a trail and wondered what is that plant? Thanks to Earth.com you can easily identify it with PlantSnap. It cost $3.99. My friend Pam introduced this app to me while we were hiking along the Provo River in Heber City, Utah. I’ve been using it ever since! If you don’t have signal on a trail, you can also upload a picture to the app when you’re done. It’s a great way to learn more about the colorful flowers you see on your hike. It identifies flowers, trees and plants – there are over 319,000 species in the database.
When the mountains are calling but you don’t know their name, use this app. It’s got over 350,000 mountains in its data base. It’s $4.99. I particularly like the photo mode, like I used during an outing to the top of Boreas Pass near Breckenridge, Colorado. When you first fire up the app it downloads an elevation model so the app works when your cell service is completely off-line. You can even edit pictures later or tap on peak names for more information about them.
Looking for a great trail to hike or bike? AllTrails has 50,000 trails around the world for you to discover. The app has the largest collection of trail maps of any app. The app can search for trails near you. You get trail details plus reviews from others. My favorite feature is the trail highlights. Click on the dots on the map for more information on things to see along the trail. If you want to download maps, it’s either $2.50 a month (billed annually) or $99 for lifetime (billed annually). The PRO account gives you access to more map layers, ability to print maps, experience AllTrails ad-free, and allows you to design and save custom map trails. I’m a PRO member.
Of course I have to have to include a weather app. One of my favorites is RadarScope. It’s $9.99. For an additional $9.99 per year you can upgrade to RadarScope Pro, which I have. It includes lightning data, which is critical to know when hiking or camping. Their tagline is “Professional radar for the Average Joe.” If you want to weather geek out then upgrade to the Pro Tier Two for SPC (Storm Prediction Center) Outlooks, sheer and hail contours and storm reports.
I also use this radar app. It’s $4.99. It’s my go to for seeing future radar scans. I also like it for current weather information and for a quick forecast on the go. Plus you can track hurricanes and get severe weather alerts from multiple locations.
SkyView is my favorite app to explore the night sky. For one thing, it has more features in the free version than most of its competitors. As you scan the sky to constellations appear and you can tap on objects in the sky to get detailed descriptions. You can even follow the projected path of a object in the sky. It’s the best way to stare into the starry sky!
Dreaming of ski season? My #1 go to ski/ride app is OpenSnow. Most of OpenSnow services are free, including 5-day snow forecasts. You can set up power alerts for your favorite resort too. Upgrade to the All-Access Pass for $19 to get 10-day forecasts, time-lapse webcams to track snow and custom powder day alerts. I just got word from the OpenSnow team that they are redesigning the website and mobile apps for the 2018-19 ski season! Some of the new features will include hourly data, longer-range outlooks, added forecast features for days 1-10, and more specific information for your ski pass.