Parenting: Travel Aid

Hitting the interstates with the kids' iPod Touch/iPhone this summer? David Murphy has a travel tip.
David Murphy has word of a new aid for families planning to travel with their portable Apple gear.
June 1, 2011 6:37:49 AM PDT
David Murphy has word of a new aid for families planning to travel with their portable Apple gear.

I love my GPS. It comes in especially handy when I'm out on a highway in unfamiliar territory and my kids really, really, really, want a certain brand of hamburger and fries. But one problem is that standard GPS point-of-interest searches spit back locations from all directions, to the left, the right, and behind. Even "along route" searches, I've found, can take you off the highway you're traveling for miles if you're not careful---not a good thing when you've got a car load of hungry stomachs and a rising "whine" quotient.

With the new Road Ahead, an "app" designed for parents and kids who use the iPod Touch and iPhone, the search only returns options that are literally right off the next couple of exits, allowing you to search for say, a pizza place, and have confidence that you will not be driving too far out of your way to find it. RoadAhead is available as a free download from iTunes and the App Store.

Its promoters say the program has been specially developed and beta-tested recently with good responses from the testers. Search results include distance from the exit, and user ratings. Gas station selections include up-to-the-minute pricing, a plus with more and more drivers these days shopping around for cheaper gas. You also receive recommendations based on your specific search criteria. The display is advertised as an easy "set it and forget it" set-up that allows simple viewing of the information so quick decisions can be made. There is apparently no need to click, expand and drag to view details.

The developers say the program is so simple to use, kids can get into the act, letting you drive while they search. In fact, it may be your kid who has the iPhone or iPod Touch along for the ride anyway, which encourages this cooperative system. RoadAhead may not be so great for single drivers, since it could tempt you to fumble around with your cell phone while driving which is never a good idea.

For an overview of RoadAhead, check out the app's facebook page.

You might want to pay special attention to the "discussions" section. As a new application, there are apparently still some bugs in the system according to some of the posts, but the designers are obviously trying to address these. Still, the early user comments will give you a heads-up on what's still being worked out. Again, the app is free, so there's no cost to give it a try.

---David Murphy

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