Back to School Season: Planning a College Road Trip with the Right Apps

August is peak College Road Trip season. That means it’s time for students to switch their beach chairs for a seat in the library and for parents to prepare for tearful goodbyes. 

As a college student or a parent, you already have enough to worry about. That’s why Openbay is here with all the apps you need to make your back-to-school road trip as smooth as possible. 

Before You Hit the Open Road

There are 278 million cars on America’s highways and byways in 2019, but recent studies show that many of these cars are not getting the maintenance that they need. In fact, US car owners are delaying over 5 million brake jobs, nearly 7 million tire changes and 11 million oil changes. 

Delayed vehicle maintenance poses a real risk to your safety, the longevity of your car and potentially to your wallet. “Ultimately, servicing your vehicle at the recommended service intervals can keep money in your pocket by avoiding more unintentional wear, a catastrophic failure or worse case, an accident,” explains Bill Thompson, CEO of IMR, Inc

We get it, car repair and maintenance can be a serious headache. Most likely, you don’t have time hunting around for quotes or you’re anxious about cost and quality. That’s why there’s Openbay: the most convenient way to find a trusted auto mechanic, compare quotes and book online (free: iOS and Android). Do your car a favor and schedule a quick tune up in just a few clicks before you hit the road. Most likely, college kids will put vehicle maintenance at the bottom of their to-do list, so why not tackle it before school starts.

Know Before You Go 

As much as you want to spend your last moments of summer freedom stuck in traffic, there’s a way to avoid that. Apple Maps is good on-the-fly, but Waze lets you pick the best time to leave (free: iOS and Android). Just plug in your destination to see a heat map with suggested departure times based on historical data and real-time information. 

Save Your Gas and Toll Money for Textbooks

The average cost of tuition and fees for the 2018–2019 school year was $35,676 at private colleges according to U.S. News survey data. Plus, the College Board suggests that students set aside $1,200 each year for books and other course materials.Yikes. 

The good news is that average gas prices have dropped 15 cents since August 2018. The even better news is that there are easy ways to save on gas and tolls. 

GasBuddy will help you find the cheapest gas prices based on your location AND you can save up to 5 cents per gallon on every fill up by signing up for Pay with GasBuddy (free: iOS and Android). 

PRO TIP: If you’re driving through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas or South Carolina, you’ll find the lowest average gas prices, so go ahead and fill up the tank! See AAA’s full list of average gas prices in each state here.

On a long journey, tolls can unexpectedly add up. No surprise, there’s an app for that. Tollsmart will help you calculate the cheapest and fastest toll bridges, roadways and tunnels from start to finish (free: iOS and Android). 

Plan Ahead for Pit Stops 

Looking for an ATM to get cash for the next toll? Is it time for a fast food fillup? Then download iExit, your new go-to road trip pit stop finder along interstates (free: iOS and Android). How about a clean bathroom? Surprisingly enough, there’s an app for that. Flush Toilet Finder uses your location and checks its database to show you nearby restrooms (free: iOS and Android). Plus, it even functions when you’re offline.

Does the early bird catch the worm? Not always. 

HotelTonight offers last-minute discounts on top-rated hotels (free: iOS and Android). Users can search by category and quality such as Basic, Hip or Luxe, view information on nearby hotels, and quickly book accommodations from within the app.

When Hunger Strikes 

The Freshman 20 is inevitable. Why not start a little early? Yelp and OpenTable are the best ways to find and book customer-reviewed restaurants in an unfamiliar town (free: iOS, Android). You can quickly glance at menus, check out pics of the food and ambiance and make a reservation (OpenTable) or order pickup and delivery (Yelp). 

Education or Entertainment? Take Your Pick. 

Road trips are the perfect excuse to tune out from the outside world and tune into your favorite podcast, playlist or audiobook. The ultimate on-demand music and podcast app is Spotify (free: iOS, Android). The $9.99 per month premium subscription removes ads and allows you to download music for offline listening. Depending on your route, you will most likely hit a ‘No Service’ zone so this offline feature lets you keep the tunes rollin’. The best feature is the Discover Weekly playlist, featuring personalized playlists based algorithms that factor in your listening history and preferences. 

Did you skip the mandatory summer reading? Have no fear, Amazon’s Audible is here (14.95/month: iOS, Android). With nearly 200,000 audiobooks available, Audible also offers playback controls, bookmarking and offline listening.

A Parent’s Job is Never Done

Helicopter parents, rejoice! It’s your job to stay on your college kid’s case about getting enough sleep, not skipping class and being aware of their vehicle’s maintenance schedule, including oil changes, brake work, tire rotations, belt replacement, filter replacements and more. We’re pretty sure their lifeguarding/ice cream scooping/babysitting summer job won’t cover the cost of a damaged engine, and that cost can be avoided by staying on top of scheduled maintenance. 

Unfortunately, most colleges don’t have a class on how to check engine oil levels or change a tire, so teach your young driver the basics before they head off to college. 

Don’t forget to monitor vehicle-specific safety and recall info as well. All you need to do is visit the NHTSA Safety Issues & Recalls page and enter your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

Openbay Speaks Generation Z’s Language

We understand the communication preferences of younger generations (texting + online > phone calls + in-person), which is why we offer a modern approach to car repair. In just a few clicks, vehicle owners can find a trusted mechanic, compare personalized service estimates and book a service online at Within a few clicks, we will connect you or your college kid with the auto technician that’s right for you.

Openbay Staff