On Tuesday I drove from Memphis to Cincinnati. I found myself pulling out my phone pretty frequently along the way and firing up foursquare Explore to find something better to eat than the Wendy’s or McDonald’s that were at (seemingly) every exit. It worked reasonably well, finding me a nice little sandwich shop where I ate lunch.
It would’ve been much easier if I could have planned those stops ahead of time, so I went on a hunt after I got back. It turns out there’s already a service, OnTheWay, that’s designed for exactly that purpose and it does a wonderful job.
When you start out, OnTheWay looks just like starting a new set of directions in Google Maps, but the real power comes when you connect it to your foursquare account (although you can still use it for generic recommendations without connecting to foursquare).Â OnTheWay walks you through each leg of your trip (every hundred miles or so), showing recommended venues from foursquare Explore all along the route. Click the icons and it will show exactly why foursquare recommended the place for you.
You can add each place to your trip, and they’ll show up alongside your directions. If you’ve got friends going along for the ride, send them a link to the trip or share it on Facebook or Twitter.
OnTheWay’s biggest drawback is really a limitation in foursquare’s Explore API. It takes the current time â€” and only the current time â€” into consideration when recommending venues. There’s no way to get recommended venues for a specific time in the future, so a search in the morning shows mainly coffee places and largely ignores the places you could stop for lunch or dinner on a long road trip. OnTheWay would be even more useful if it could request recommendations for the time you’ll actually be passing through a particular leg of your trip.
I can tell you that I’ll definitely be using OnTheWay on my next road trip. It’s an easy way to find some hidden gems along your route that you might not find just by looking at the roadside signs.
Give OnTheWay a try and let us know what you think in the comments.