Years ago, before smartphones were a thing, you were fairly limited in finding out what was coming up next on those long highways. Oh sure, you’d see the blue highway signs that would tell you the next rest stop was in 27 miles, or there was an amusement park, a KOA Campground and a Wawa at exit 7A. Your AAA triptych would give you some idea of what was on the way, too, but overall you were pretty limited when it came to details, especially if you were further out than just a couple of miles away.
Back in the 90s, Joe and I, along with our friend Steve, used to do a lot of road trips. We all lived in the NY/NJ/Philadelphia area at the time and visited Niagara Falls, Williamsburg VA, Cape May NJ, Cedar Point, a Disney convention in MA, and a bunch of other places. Steve had a book called The Next Exit, which had a listing of everything at, you guessed it, the next exit. Food, gas, lodging, camping, shopping, you name it. Let me tell you, that book was super important to us when we did road trips because it had listings for every exit of every U.S. Interstate Highway in the contiguous United States, so we could know specifically where to find a Wendy’s or Holiday Inn Express (Joe may have already been doing the “points” thing), or if the next gas station was a name brand or not.
It wasn’t until the advent of smartphones that this information was at your fingertips, and even now, if you’re in a remote area without much signal and no way to become your own hot spot, you might still be out of luck. Plus, of course, you have to know where to look – I mean, if you’re on the I-90 in Anystate USA, have a picky eater in the car and want to know what restaurants are at a rest stop 2 hours ahead of you so you can plan lunch, where do you look to find out? Well, as the (not so) old saying goes, “There’s an app for that!” (and sometimes a book, too!)
Believe it or not, The Next Exit is still alive and well! With annual publications for the past 30 or so years, it’s still available in book form, as well as a mobile app for iOS/Apple devices. Their information is updated annually and if you purchase the book ($19.95…it’s over 500 pages) on their website, you get the app for free for a year, as well (the app is usually $9.99 per year, with a 14-day free trial). I admit that I’ve never used the app but again, we found the book to be invaluable in the past.
iExit is a free app available for iOS and Android. With third party integration of Opis, Yelp and Travel Coupons, the program uses your GPS to tell you what’s coming up when you are on major exit-based highways. The default mode shows you a summary of each exit ahead, but you can also search among upcoming exits. Search upcoming exits for businesses (like Starbucks, Cracker Barrel, or KOA Campgrounds), amenities (like WiFi, Playground, or Truck Parking), rest stops, hotel deals, etc.
I-4 Exit Guide, I-5 Exit Guide, I-10 Exit Guide, I-75 Exit Guide and I-95 Exit Guide are websites each limited to only those respective highways, but if you’re going to be traveling on any of those roads for any length of time, they seem to be decent websites to look at. Each has restaurants, lodging, camping, outlet malls, theme parks, rest areas, city guides, side trips, road construction, real-time traffic, tolls, travel weather, gas prices, and other bits of information, state by state as applicable.
Roadnow.com is a free website that provides information on global highways including road traffic, major cities, gas stations, food, lodging, etc. for major highways in about 20 countries around the world. Their list of coverage for the U.S. includes many interstate highways and they appear to have a service where they will book hotels for you, as well. Their services are free, however, the free service comes with, of course, ads. I have an adblocker in place and with that, as I continued looking at the site, I got the following notification every 2-3 pages:
I understand their point but it was extraordinarily annoying and unfortunately, I can’t give you any other details about their services, as I eventually stopped looking at their site because of continually getting their “don’t block our ads” notifications every few seconds. As always, Your Mileage May Vary.
Finally, Interstate-Guide.com is a website that doesn’t tell you about what’s at the next exit but does offer basic information and facts about each of the Interstate Highways in the United States, including mileage statistics, history and maps, planned improvements and photographs covering Interstate endpoints. If you’re a history buff or just want to pass the time learning about the road you’re traveling on, you may want to check out the site.
So if you’re traveling, what do you do to find out what’s coming up next on your trip? What did I miss?
Hat Tip & thank-you to Lauren L., who submitted the idea for this post!
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary