By Lincoln McElwee
Planning a family vacation can be a daunting task. Whether a short trip or a long haul, there’s just so much to think about and keep track of. And regardless of how prepared you might think you are, there’s always room for error or forgetfulness or—to be honest—sheer chaos to ensue!
To this end, there’s an arsenal of phone and tablet apps—both free and at a cost—that can assist you in the process of planning and taking part in a family vacation. So whether you’re taking the kids on a weekend drive to the country or city, or flying out for a weeklong vacation or to see your extended family, try making using a few of these handy apps.
Once you try them, you may never be able to travel without them again!
Let’s face it. We all want our travels to be carefree. We want things to go smoothly, to be easy. Easy like Sunday morning, right? But traveling long distances—especially by car and with kids—doesn’t always allow for that. Well, worry no more! You’re in luck because there’s an app for that! This app allows you to take an ordinary, easily monotonous car drive and transform it into an educational adventure for the kids. It points out historical routes, scenic landmarks and other historical gems along the way. Your kids will be entertained even before you reach your intended destination.
Sometimes, we just need a little help from our friends. This app allows moms to fill in vacation downtime and tap into the support network of like-minded mothers sharing local information about family-friendly points of interest. Regardless of where you find yourself, use this app with information from other parents to locate tried and true restaurants and events, as well as parks and play areas on a detailed map that shows you how to get there.
As the name suggests, this app from Guidebook Galactic allows you to find rest areas in nearby locations. Making pit stops for snacks and bathroom breaks has never been easier! A similar app, Sit or Squat, is also there for you in an emergency. Based on user reviews, it allows you to find nearby bathrooms anywhere in the world and it notes if the bathrooms are open or closed, and if they’ve been recommended by other users.
Gone are the days of scurrying around while on vacation in search of the perfect postcard only to have it lost in the mail. With this app, you can turn your prized photographs into postcards and send them electronically to friends and family. The app allows you to send the image you truly want and to be sure that it gets to its destination. But hey, if snail mail is still your style, you have the option of printing the postcards out and mailing them for a fee as well. Postagram is a similar app that allows you to be your own postmaster.
With confirmation emails, addresses and excited kids to look after, reaching your destination might seem like a Herculean task. Not anymore! This app allows you to keep track of all your important travel details with ease. You can construct custom itineraries by hand or simply forward your confirmation emails from the various providers you’re using, such as airfare, rental cars, hotels, etc., and the app will convert all the data into a chronological itinerary with all of your pertinent information in one place. Concise viewing and ease of use all at your fingertips!
Dealing with layovers and airport terminals is a daunting task in itself, but throw in cranky kids and you’ve got a disaster in the making. Luckily, there’s an app to combat that. This godsend of an app allows parents to navigate the tricky world or airport terminals and quickly, easily find important information based on arrival and departure times. Find restaurants, restrooms, kids’ play zones and more, and make use of the app’s detailed airport maps and useful navigation tools as well.
Enough with the evening weather report already! It’s time to take the weather report into your own hands—literally! This handy app allows you to access everything you might need about the climate in multiple locations. It will show the local time, humidity, visibility, temperature, wind speed, and other important factors, on an easy-to-use interface and, most importantly, in real time, when you need it most. Now you can pick the perfect clothing for you and your family and be informed about possible climate changes—all while on vacation.
Though there are many apps out there for finding the right type of lodging, from hotels to timeshares to sublets, it’s all available on this app. Kayak has proven a favorite for many as it works as a one-stop shop for your travel needs. It allows you to find flights, lodging and even rental cars all in one place. You can also use it to manage itineraries, track flights and receive price alerts. On a related note, if you happen to be searching for a same-day family-friendly hotel, the HotelTonight app has you covered. The app even rates hotels and provides room descriptions for the discerning last-minute planner.
Don’t have enough space in your luggage to bring along your child’s favorite movies? If you’ve elected to leave behind the DVDs, music and books that tend to keep your child occupied, this app can help with the possible repercussions! Let your kids watch educational movies or listen to appropriate tunes all with the ease of a functional and reliable app. And you don’t have to worry about them seeing what they shouldn’t as the app is already filtered to provide programs and videos for younger viewers.
In addition to the apps listed above, there are a host of other apps geared towards reading and learning comprehension for children. While some of these apps are free, others offer free trials while still others cost relatively little to quite a lot for a yearly subscription. Websites, such as the Fun Educational Apps site , allow you to take your pick of the fun for children of all ages!
Also be sure to visit Android and Apple app stores to select the best apps for your journey. Like the above-mentioned website, many of these apps are based on age and grade level, and can help to turn any vacation into yet another opportunity for learning.
Want apps for your android? Visit the Google Play App Store here: https://play.google.com/store
Want apps for your iPhone or iPad? Visit the Apple App Store on iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/genre/ios/id36?mt=8