By Marc Saltzman
IT’S THAT TIME OF year to start planning spring
and summer travels. These days, tattered road maps
have been replaced by smartphones and the enormous world of apps as preferred sources of key
The following (mostly free) apps could be helpful companions while you’re out and about.
However, remember what the late Jim Morrison
famously sang—“Keep your eyes on the road, your
hands upon the wheel”—when using these apps.
Have a passenger be the navigator and app user so
you can concentrate on the task at hand.
Your personal assistant
If you have a phone, you also have a personal
assistant to help you access information when and
where you need it, just by asking for it. Siri (for
iPhones) and Google Now (for Android devices)
will respond to speech; simply say “Hey, Siri” or
“OK, Google” to wake up your virtual companion,
followed by a question or command, such as “How
many more miles to Las Vegas?” or “When was
Yellowstone created?” You’ll hear the appropriate
response, so there’s no need to look at your phone.
Ask and ye shall receive!
Note: Siri is built into iPhone, but you’ll need to
enable the “Hey Siri” hands-free option in Settings.
Android users need to download Google Now from
the Google Play store.
Available for Apple iOS, Android and
Windows phones, Google Maps is the most
accurate and intuitive mapping program available. Along with providing accurate turn-by-turn directions to a destination, Google
For extra safety, be sure to set a destination—using your voice or fingertips—before
starting to drive, and securely mount your
phone somewhere to quickly glance at the screen
Another excellent mapping program is Waze,
a community-based traffic and navigation app.
Music for your ears
Nothing on the radio? No worries. As long as
you have a healthy data plan for streaming music
via cellular connectivity, the TuneIn Radio app
gives you access to more than 100,000 radio sta-
tions around the world, and all are searchable by
genre, country or popularity. If you’re in the mood
for a particular artist or song, simply conduct a
search to hear what’s playing at that exact moment.
TuneIn Radio also has podcasts and Internet-only
radio stations (such as the awesome 1.FM).
If you prefer to have curated playlists, be sure to
download the Songza app and choose what mood
you’re in for a custom mix.
Parents who want to avoid the “Are we there
yet?” whine from the backseat might want to hand
their kids a smartphone or tablet loaded with Disney
Movies Anywhere, an iOS and Android app that
plays Disney, Pixar and Marvel movies. Sign-up is
mandatory but free, and you’ll get a free film
(Wreck-It Ralph) in the process, along with exclusive
videos, special offers and reward points for all of
your eligible digital purchases going forward. With
the library of hundreds of movies, users can either
stream or download to watch offline. Optional
parental controls are built into the app.
Also consider Netflix ($8.99 per month) for
streaming movies and TV shows—including a ton
of content for kids.
Finding a Costco
OK, so including the Costco app on this list
might seem self-serving, but it’s a must-have app for
any Costco member. For iOS and Android users,
look under “Warehouse Locator” to find the nearest
Costco gas station for a fill-up and get navigation
instructions to get there quickly (without wasting
any more gas by driving around).
And if you need to stock up on some items and
you’re not in a part of town you know well, tap to
locate the closest Costco location on a map—and
see info such as hours of operation. C
More in archives
On Costco.com, enter “Connection”;
at Online Edition, search
On the road again
Apps to help on your summer road trip
electronics or computers
you purchased at
Costco? Email them to:
Or mail to:
Q&A with Marc Saltzman
The Costco Connection
P.O. Box 34088
Seattle, WA 98124-1088
or fax to: 425-313-6718.
“Marc Saltzman Q&A”
in the subject line. Marc
will answer selected ques-
tions in this column. We
regret that unpublished
questions cannot be
you have a
a leading high-tech
to more than three
on radio and TV, and is
the author of 15 books.
He’s on Twitter at
The Costco Connection
You can find the latest smartphones from leading
manufacturers in the Wireless Kiosk at your local
Costco and online at Costco.com (search “cell
phones”). You can also find a complete selection
of tablets from Apple, Samsung and other manufa-turers in your local warehouse and at Costco.com.