What the Tech? Improve Your Memorial Day Travel with the Latest Tech
By JAMIE TUCKER Consumer Technology Reporter
AAA predicts 42 million Americans will travel over the Memorial Day weekend holiday. That’s the most since 2000. A majority of those travelers will be on the highway which means you’ll see more traffic, longer drive times, and higher gas prices.
That’s probably not enough of a deterrent to keep people at home so if your holiday plans include a car ride, you should be prepared for spending more time on the highway.
Of course, there are a few things you can do before you leave home to make the car ride as enjoyable as possible, keep your gas expenses down, and keep those devices charged and connected.
If you’re not using Waze as a GPS for the car, you’re traveling wrong. Sure Apple Maps is convenient for iPhone users and has improved, but Waze is used by far more people who constantly update traffic information, hazards, and police presence.
It isn’t totally hands-free and you can’t make it the default GPS app on the iPhone. If you ask Siri to “give me directions to”, it’ll open Apple Maps but you can ask Siri to “launch Waze and give me directions to” which will trigger Waze to give you directions and traffic information.
Gas prices jump over summer holidays, to find the best price while you’re tooling down the highway, the app GasBuddy is the most dependable way to find gas prices. It’s widely used by other travelers and prices are generally updated daily, if not hourly. And you could save a good bit without driving out of the way.
This recent search shows a price spread of 29 cents a gallon. Do your fellow travelers a solid and update the price when you fill up.
If your internet connection gets super slow on the highway, here’s a trick: turn on airplane mode for 3 seconds, then turn it off again. This forces the phone to search for the nearest cell tower. You could go from one bar to 5G LTE for all the speed you need.
Ever wonder why your phone doesn’t charge very fast in the car? The USB ports in most cars are just for listening to your music or connecting CarPlay. Pick up a charger that plugs into a cigarette lighter. These provide 4-6 amps and can charge a phone 10 times faster than a USB port. Use a brand-name charger and cable. The cheapos you see in gas stations aren’t reliable, or fast, and can overheat.
You may have to search for the cigarette lighter too. Many are tucked inside the center console while I’ve seen a few that are hidden underneath the passenger side’s legroom. Also, get a very long charging cable for the people in the backseat.
AAA says the best times to travel over the Memorial Day weekend are before 1 o’clock and noon Thursday and Friday and before 10 a.m. on Monday. Otherwise, you will hit the most traffic over the weekend.