[Traveling Tales] The Best iOS Apps For Roadtrips

From the second I got my first car at 17, I realized that curves are for hugging, being on the road is physically cathartic and that the shortest distance between two points is me in my car with the windows down and music up.  Though I’ve developed a map-titude over the ages, I’m constantly praising the cell phone gods that smart phones exist and that developers are willing to share their genius with us.  From directions to attractions, a place to lay your head and places to explore – I’ve found a good set of phone apps that have you covered. Just remember – whatever you’re trying to do, wherever you’re trying to go: there’s a better way, and there’s definitely an app for that.


Make sure you’ve got a birds eye view into one if not more, of the following apps so you can get a comfortable roof over your head for pennies on the dollar.  My personal favorite is AirBnb, especially because you can snag an entire domicile for an incredibly low rate – or just a single room if you’re flying solo or traveling with your best friend or significant other.  HomeAway and VRBO are great resources if you’ve got a larger group in tow, while CheapTickets can find you a discounted hotel room in milliseconds.

So Much Room For Activities. 

One of my favorite things about road trips is that they can take you wherever your little heart desires – want to head to the beach and cruise the coast? Do it!  Or how about a detour through the desert or a romp near the river?  A road trip is the quintessential choose your own adventure experience and you’re the captain.  Sometimes, it just takes a wish and a will to find something novel – but if you’d like a little assistance, download Roadtrippers for a nifty guide around your location and it’s comprehensive for the entire United States.  After signing up, you can save and share travel routes, not to mention a look into a broad range of activities within a close proximity to your travel path plus the net value of gas for your trip.

Find Yourself

If you’re an iPhone user and you’re trying to get anywhere important, or just find a specific location in general –  do yourself a favor and stop using Apple Maps.  Seriously.  Download Google Maps and Waze immediately, sit back and enjoy the seamless integration and easier to use directions that don’t lead you into the ocean, or into a dead end.

Stay organized.

I don’t know about you, but I love lists – sometimes I even have lists of lists, others I’ll purposely put a few things on it that I’ve done that day so I can instantly feel the struckout satisfaction of what’s been accomplished. But for some reason, When it comes to buckling down and actually packing for a trip I always tend to forget the little things.  So a few years ago, I made a master list and saved it to my hard drive; when I got sick of referencing it – I tossed it up into a list on Evernote.  A great alternative to a bulky Google Doc, Evernote provides a simple forum for staying on task and on top of your life.

What are your tricks of the trade when it comes to traveling?

Let me know in the comments below!

[This Is Growing Up] So You’re Looking To Relocate?

There’s very little in life that’s equally exciting and daunting as dating in Los Angeles, but apartment hunting in the city of Angels most definitely comes in at a close second.  I moved down from Santa Barbara in the Summer of ’08 and instead of putting in the effort to look for the best fit, I chose to negate crucial steps and was left wanting instead of feeling like I was home.  Over the five years I’ve been here, I’ve moved twice and each time has been a unique learning experiences.

Prime example: I’ve learned the hard way what my creature comforts are and what I’m willing to sacrifice for an adorable abode.  Do you need a dishwasher; do you enjoy living by yourself; do you need covered parking, do you have easy access to multiple freeway systems; do you absolutely have to have a pool?  These are just a few of the things you should figure out pre-move, so you don’t spend the entire lease complaining about the have-nots instead of celebrating the awesome amenities.

Spring Cleaning isn’t just for Spring

Beyond where you’re going – you should also be aware of where you’re coming from and the baggage you’ll be bringing with you.  Speaking of what you’re bringing with you, this is an excellent time to pair down what you already possess – do you need four surfboards?  Some would argue yes – but not everyone.  I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a ‘pack rat‘ but then again, I don’t know anyone that would volunteer themselves as a hoarder; maybe I’m a little hypersensitive because my step mom was a professional organizer…or there’s the fact my room was so messy that she wouldn’t let the house cleaners touch it!  At the time, I thought her thinking was backwards but the wiser I become with age, the more I see her point: cleaning your apartment is not the same as putting things in their place.

Check Yourself, and Your Inventory

What I’ve discovered is that my step-mother is incredibly wise and on point, so I’ve adopted one of her most basic rules: a place for every thing, and everything in its place.  If you’re suddenly discovering that you have an overabundance of plates + knives but no cups or forks, you’ll find yourself in the middle of an incredibly awkward space planning issue at the most inopportune times – date nights, pre-partying, etc – you get the idea.   Take inventory of what you have and take notice of what you’re missing – if you do a little digging on Yelp, I bet you’ll even find some inexpensive and funky ways to upgrade your household inventory.  The Melrose Trading Post in the Fairfax District runs every Sunday, rain or shine, and always delivers the best in antique and unique household items, clothing and jewelry.  If you’re a little to the East, the Rose Bowl Flea Market is open the second Sunday of every month – I’ve never been but I’ve heard that it’s a fabulous way to lose yourself on a beautiful afternoon.  Another great resource are restaurant supply stores – you can buy quality kitchenware at beyond affordable prices.

Closet Math – Less is More

For being an intuitive math person, it took me an awful long time to discover that closet math is incredibly different from normal math.  You’d think that more is…well, more!  But  take into consideration how often you run into something torn, faded, a little on the small side (or large side, pick whatever koolaid you’ve been sippin’ on), or you’d simply like to slap the you from two years ago who thought that pattern actually looked good – every time you notice those pieces of clothing, you’re been deterred from that good shit!  Often, and especially for myself, I’m gifted with clothing and accessories from my closest confidants and feel guilty holding onto it.  Then I have to think about it this way –  if it’s not going to good use (and it’s not from immediate family), gift it and pay it forward; I promise it’ll be well received.  If you’re not into gifting – hold a yard sale, or walk a bag or ten over to your local goodwill.

Next time you get ready, take a good hard look at your wardrobe – some of it’s seasonal, so you can rotate it between your main closet and a hall closet or storage;  on the other hand, some of it might require you to go through some form of separation anxiety.  Either way you play the game, you’ll open up space and be able to see things much more easily; not only can you get ready in a flash but just watch as your make some new, expert outfit pairings.

Making Moves

Here we have the under-appreciated  art of apartment hunting.  Instead of focusing on what I might’ve definitely wrong, I’d like to share a couple things that have gone right for me.  Moving itself is primarily about one thing and one thing only: location, location, location.   In a major city, especially one as big as Los Angeles, it’s important to understand what you’re near – and what’s absolutely  BFE away from – you.  I found a phenomenal website – and iPhone app – called Lovely and it’s by far the best apartment hunting website around.

Do you value your time, or do you value the money you’re investing?  Granted, you can move in a year…but that could be a very long year.  Being near a freeway is important and considering how congested traffic is, being near a bunch is better.  Everyone loves being able to walk to the beach but not everyone can afford the cost(…for now).  So take the time and think about the things you’re willing to give up and what you need to live in comfort. Some places have covered parking, some have parking garages – and some people drive for twenty minutes every night.  If you’re into fitness and walking like I am, you might want to know what’s close by and convenient so head over to Walk Score and see how “walkable” your new (or current) neighborhood is; you might be surprised at the results.


Last but definitely not least  is the power of lists.  I’m a special breed – I have lists of lists, and lists everywhere: old school written post-its, text messages to myself and a great app for all my devices called Evernote.  It lets me take my lists digitally wherever I go and it’s perfect for anything like packing lists, recipes, bucket lists and – you guessed it, apartment criteria.  This way, you literally can’t avoid jotting down your thoughts on the kitchen in your coworker’s new pad and how badly you wish you could walk to a farmer’s market every Sunday.