Reviewed June 2014
Audrey Ferrie, Library Director and Information Literacy Program Coordinator
Academy of Art University Library
“Attractions, diners, motels, folk art, campgrounds. Discover everything that’s awesome around you.” This tagline epitomizes the drive to discover the unique and local that permeates Roadtrippers. Visually engaging and enjoyable to navigate, this website and accompanying mobile platform feature curated content attractively organized into subsets of interest, enabling you to discover what’s across the country or just around the corner. By inputting a start and end location, users are able to select stopping points based on interest to create and navigate a custom road trip. Or, select the “Find Places” option to just explore one area.
While still in Beta, both the website and app are mostly easy to navigate, offering straightforward visual cues to guide through the planning process. Users can rate locations, leave comments, and even add locations to the site. Once a trip is planned, users can share the itinerary and directions with friends through Facebook, Twitter, and email. The app is free to download for both iPhone and Android, and offers turn-by-turn directions via Google maps, and even fuel cost estimates.
Find places based on broad categories, such as History, or specific subsets, such as Monuments or Abandoned. Each location has a page featuring photography and a brief write-up, along with a link to the location page if available. In addition, Roadtrippers offers guides and blogs, including the Hall of Museums guide, which highlights “America’s best and most bizarre museums- from SPAM to questionable medical devices (and feel free to touch the exhibits!)”
Don’t expect the same magnitude of listings as Yelp – the content is curated by Roadtripper’s team, making this service more focused but of course less encompassing. The quirky is favored over the traditional in much of this platform’s content, so choose another app to scope the nearest Starbucks. However, if you are seeking to discover places not highlighted by more conventional travel guides, Roadtrippers is more than up to the task.
For on-the-clock activities such as fieldtrips and conferences, Roadtrippers is a good discovery and planning tool. To illustrate, let’s look at the 2015 ARLIS conference city, Fort Worth, Texas. In addition to the Amon Carter, Kimbell Art Museum, and the Botanic Gardens, this trip also includes the abandoned Swift Armour Meat Packing Plant, a restored Sinclair Gas Station, plus a barbeque pit stop and a cheese shop excursion.
Beyond a fun way to explore places for business and leisure trips, imagine how Roadtrippers could be used as an educational and outreach tool: classes in urban studies, architecture, art classes that incorporate street art, graffiti, or folk art would benefit from this tool. Students could find places based on a particular theme, upload pictures to the Roadtrippers platform, and generate a trip URL to share with their instructor and classmates. Museums and public libraries could use this as a tool to create a public art or historic district walking tour—Roadtrippers is rife with possibilities for cultural heritage and educational institutions.
So don’t wait – starting exploring your summer travels with Roadtrippers and see what you can find!