Must-Have Apps for Family Travel

Planning to take a trip with the kids this summer? Get these apps.
Ingrid Simone Senior Editor, Apps | Mom of two Categories: Cell Phone Parenting, Screen Time, We Recommend
Senior Editor, Apps | Mom of two

Whether you're taking the kids on a day trip or a trip around the world, if you're bringing a smartphone or tablet, you'll want to be sure you have these great apps for getting them involved and engaged in your travel adventure.

Planning your trip

As the grown-up, you'll do most of the heavy lifting here. But in the days or weeks before you leave, letting kids get in on the planning will build their excitement and engagement about the trip. A good geography app is a fun way to help kids get a sense of where they're going and how the location relates to the rest of the world. If you're traveling in the United states, Stack the States and Learn the States with Flat Stanley are terrific choices.

Another app that's perfect for the planning stages is Google Earth. Kids can see a satellite view of your destination, famous landmarks, and more -- all with astonishing detail. And you can opt to display information about notable places, businesses, and relevant outside websites, including Wikipedia entries.

Staying sane in the car (or on the plane, train, bus, etc.)

Sure, there's something to be said for taking in the scenery. But on an hours-long trip, mobile devices come in handy in so many ways. Kids can listen to music, play games, read books, watch movies, draw, etc. Here are some key apps to include, as well as some tips:

  • A virtual library app will let kids bring along good stuff to read without lugging tons of books in their backpacks. Reading Rainbow is a great choice; download books before you leave home.
  • An mp3 player is good to have, but my kids have so much more fun with radio apps like Pandora on road trips. They work together to program their own kid-friendly stations. And while they're listening, they'll read the artist bios and song characteristics -- it makes listening to music a more active experience. (Just keep an eye on your data usage if you'll be on a long trip!)
  • Stock up on games. If you have more than one kid, include some games they can play together. And longer trips are a good time to break out the more engrossing games.

Getting around town

A pocket map can come in handy, but with an app like Google Maps, you can do so much more. Where are you headed? What are the nearby landmarks in the area? Show kids how you use Google Maps to plan your route (driving, walking, or using public transportation). Cool extras like street view let kids get a preview of what they'll see when they get there.

Are you driving? Make your kid a deputy navigator. I like Waze for navigation, but participating in the crowdsourced alerts can be distracting. Your kid can follow the route, let you know what's coming up, and report hazards or traffic conditions -- while you keep your eyes on the road.

Sharing and preserving memories

Older teens may chronicle their adventures on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, which are great for sharing in the moment. But scrapbooks, journals, and photo and video apps will help your kids make a creative keepsake of the trip -- keepsakes that are easy to share with others electronically.

From the planning stages to post-trip reflecting, apps can help make family travel an even more engaging, fun, and special experience for your kids.

Do you use apps on vacation, or do you travel tech-free? Post your comment below!

Related tags

About Ingrid Simone

Ingrid joined Common Sense Media in 2010, bringing more than 15 years as an editor and writer, a passion for providing quality content focused on kids, and a love of most things digital. She earned a bachelor’s degree... Read more

Add comment

Sign in or sign up to share your thoughts

Comments (8)

Adult written by KITTY19

I'm so lucky to have here. It's such a great post you've shared, you give us a great thoughts and good insights about this, good knowledge you share.I'm looking forward for more post from you.THANKS. buy twitter re tweets
Parent of an infant year old written by jassey vande

Pleasant post!your posts is so informative.I got some imperative tips for the site remarking. A decent geology application is a fun approach to help children get a feeling of where they're going and how the area identifies with whatever remains of the world. You can also make your travel more easy through create your itinerary with http://www.triphobo.com/rome-italy
Parent of a 17 year old written by Paul Norman

A good geography app is a fun way to help kids get a sense of where they're going and how the location relates to the rest of the world. If you're traveling in the United states. research paper editors
Educator and Parent written by courtney143

I think the key themes boil down to how we talk to ourselves, how we respond to things, how we make meaning, who we spend time with, and how we make the most of what we’ve got. Where to buy twitter re tweets?
Adult written by alensid

wow!Nice post!Your posts is so informative.I got some important tips for the blog commenting.I absolutely agree with the beauty and the info you shared with us.
Teen, 17 years old written by alexsteve

wow! Good post!Your posts is so informative.I got some important tips for the blog commenting.I absolutely agree with the beauty and the info you shared with us. http://www.arikairline.org.uk
Parent written by arshadul1

Wow, nice post,there are many person searching about that now they will find enough resources by your post.Thank you for sharing to us.Please one more post about that.