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5 smart tech tips for the best road trip this holiday season

Planning a road trip? You’ll want to make sure your car is safe for travel. Tap or click here for five maintenance checks to do every month.

AAA predicted 54.6 million people would travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving. That’s a 1.5% increase over 2021 and 98% of pre-pandemic volumes. 49 million said they would travel by car.

This year was projected to be the third busiest for Thanksgiving travel since AAA started tracking in 2000. Here are a few pro tips to save you time and money on your next road trip.

Find cheaper fuel

It can be worth driving a few extra miles for cheaper fuel — but it’s best to know where you’re going, or you’ll waste more gas. Search for the cheapest gas stations nearby using the Waze app. NOTE: Gas prices are crowdsourced, so they might not always be up to date.

Here’s how it works:

  • Open the Waze app.
  • Tap the Where to? search bar and then tap the Gas stations icon.
  • Your device will start looking for the closest stations, with prices for each one.

Want to see gas stations listed in order of price? Here’s how:

  • Open the Waze app.
  • Tap My Waze, then tap the settings icon at the top-left corner.
  • Tap Gas stations.
  • Select Price in the Sort stations by section.

With Google Maps, you can search for gas stations in your area and along your route after putting directions into the app. The prices for each station will automatically pop up. Tap or click here for instructions to save on gas with your map app.

You can also use the GasBuddy app. The app also has a savings program that allows you to save as much as 25 cents a gallon. You can save by submitting your receipt to GasBuddy or signing up for its rewards program.

RELATED: How to modernize your old car to make it safer and easier to drive

Send an alert if you’re running late

When you’re running late, take a moment to let your family and friends know when you’ll be with them by sharing your route.

To share your ETA in Google Maps:

  • Tap Directions, choose your destination, then Start.
  • Swipe up and select Share trip progress.
  • Choose a contact and tap Share. Your location is shared only until you arrive.

To share your ETA in Apple Maps:

  • Look up your destination, then tap Directions and pick your route.
  • Once you’re in navigation mode, say, “Hey Siri, share my ETA with my friend.”
  • Say your friend’s name so Siri can recognize the person in your contacts list. Your friend will get a notification that you’re on the way.

To share your ETA in Waze

  • Start navigating to your destination, then tap Share drive.
  • You can use a messaging app, email or tap More options to copy or save the link.
  • Your recipient will get a link where they can view your drive and ETA.

Use voice commands

You want both hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road while driving. That can be tough when you’re trying to find your way.

Use your voice instead. Try these commands, starting with “Hey Siri” or “OK, Google”:

  • “Get directions to (insert a location).”
  • “Give me directions home.”
  • “Where am I?”
  • “How long until I get there?”
  • “Find a gas station.”

Plan when to leave the house

It’s easy to open your navigation app and see the current traffic, but what if you want to see the expected traffic conditions tomorrow or next week?

Whether you use Apple Maps, Google Maps or Waze, you can get a pretty accurate traffic forecast for a future date based on what the conditions usually are like on that day and time. Then you can fine-tune your departure time to find the ideal time to hit the road.

Here’s how to set a planned time and date for a trip in Google Maps:

  • Open Google Maps and tap on the Search here field.
  • Enter a destination and select it from the results.
  • Tap Directions and then tap the three dots button to the right of the Your location field.
  • Tap Set depart or arrive time.
  • Select Depart at and enter a date and time, then tap Done.
    • Or select Arrive by and enter a date and time then tap Done.
  • You’ll get various route options and details such as time and distance.
  • Select a route and tap Start.

Here’s how to set a planned time and date for a trip in Apple Maps:

  • Open the Maps app and tap on the Search Maps field.
  • Type your destination and select it from the results.
  • Tap Directions, then tap Leaving Now.
  • Tap Leave at, select a date and time and then tap Done.
    • Or tap Arrive by, select a date and time, and then tap Done.
  • You can see the traffic, distance and time for your trip.
  • Tap Go next to your desired route.

Here’s how to set a planned time and date for a trip in Waze:

  • Open the Waze app.
  • Tap My Waze, then Plan a drive.
  • Tap Plan a drive on the next screen to add a destination.
  • Search for your destination in the Search bar.
  • Choose the time and date you’d like to arrive at your destination, and then tap Save.
  • Based on real-time traffic, Waze will remind you when it’s time to leave.

RELATED: 5 ways tech can make your Thanksgiving easier and more fun

Download your kid’s or Kim’s voice for your Waze app

Waze offers more options for voice direction than other navigation apps. You can choose from a huge list of voices or even upload a voice to the app.

Your wife, your kid, or even your own voice can narrate your drive. Here’s how:

  • Open the Waze app on your iPhone or Android phone.
  • Tap My Waze, then the Settings gear icon.
  • Tap Voice & sound, then Waze voice.
  • Tap Record new voice.
  • Tap on the type of direction you’d like to record, then tap the record icon to start recording, then stop when you’re finished.
  • Tap Save, then repeat the above step for each direction.
  • When you’re finished, tap Save in the top-right corner of your screen.

Or you can use Kim’s voice. Kim recorded all the drive directions, and you can download her voice into your app (it’s best if you follow these steps on your phone). Here’s how:

  • Make sure you have the Waze app installed on your phone.
  • Tap this link to open Waze and you’ll find Kim Komando at the top of your screen, in the Voice recorder section.
  • Tap Kim Komando to download Kim’s voice into your Waze.
  • Tap Kim Komando again to let Kim guide you to your destination.

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