April 19, 2014

Planning a Vacation? Best Travel Apps for Family Road Trips

Planning a vacation is a lot of work. Family road trips tend to be even more complicated. One long stretch of limited restrooms and lagging entertainment can turn the inside of your automobile from heaven to hellish. Thatís where travel apps can be exceptionally handy. Stored on a smart phone youíre already carrying, travel apps can provide much-needed support for family road trips in the form of restroom locations, fun and direction finding. So if youíre planning a vacation for the whole gang, here are some of the best travel apps for family road trips youíre likely to find.

BEST TRAVEL APPS FOR FAMILY ROAD TRIPS

Historical fun:

If youíve never integrated historical markers into your family road trips, then youíve been missing out on a free source of fun. Historical markers are located along stretches of the highway, on the steps of old courthouses, on hiking trails and at various locations during the historical city walking tours. When it comes to travel apps you can use when planning a vacation, Georeader is one worth considering. It has audio information and reviews on a number of historical markers, and allows you to add your own tips with regards to directions and additional information.

Toilet technicalities:

As anyone with a teeny bladder can tell you, when itís time to tinkle, itís time to tinkle. And one of the best travel apps for that is called Sit or Squat. Searchable by address, city, zip code or intersection, Sit or Squat locates public toilets for travelers in need, and lets you add a toilet when you find one that might not be listed yet in the database. When planning a vacation, most people donít stop to think about these types of issues. But the truth is, a large part of keeping family road trips successful is being able to pull over and answer natureís call when necessary. Travel apps for toilet finding are one way to make sure that happens.

Directions:

While youíve likely purchased an atlas and fired up the GPS, there will be times when you need more details than just how to find the hotel. So when youíve got a teen in need of tampons, or a spouse with a headache hoping for aspirin, one of the best travel apps you can use is Google Maps. Itíll give you the information about what places in the area have what you need, and exactly how to get to where they are. Family road trips have logistical speed bumps built in to the experience. Choosing the right travel apps to roll with them is critical to planning a vacation that flows smoothly.

Bingo:

If youíre looking for a fresh way to incorporate classic games into your family road trips, rest assured there are definitely travel apps for that. One of the coolest is†Road-Trip-Bingo, which lets you play a version of the classic bingo game on your smart phone, with the items of note including specific road signs, airplanes, railroad crossings and farm animals.

Bizarre attractions:

Travel apps certainly run the gamut for uses, thatís for sure. When it comes to the truly bizarre, one of the best travel apps has to be†Roadside America. This app takes some of the stress out of planning a vacation, because it recognizes where you are and points out detours to some of the bizarre attractions and roadside oddities you are likely to pass by during your various family road trips throughout the year. That giant ball of twine in Podunk, Nowhere might not be your scheduled destination, but if itís only two miles out of your way and the kiddos are getting punchy, it just might be the monotony break youíve been hoping for. Get out, grab the photo op and let everyone stretch their legs for a bit. If it buys you three more hours of car-bound sanity, itíll be well worth it.

Travel apps for finding kid-friendly infrastructure:

Finding restaurants on family road trips is only half the battle. Are they kid friendly? Is there an indoor play area? One of the best travel apps Iíve seen for finding this sort of information is called†Mom Maps. Designed with moms in mind, this is one of those travel apps that helps take the guess work out of planning a vacation, especially when your goal is family-friendly travel. Use it to find playgrounds, parks, museums, kid-friendly restaurants and indoor play areas.

Finding rest areas:

Extended highway driving can make for tedious family road trips, especially when itís time for a potty break and nobody knows when the next rest area of opportunity will be.†Rest Area Finder is one of those travel apps you want to have on hand when planning a vacation that will require a fair amount of highway driving. The app displays nearby rest areas on a map along with your current location, making it easier to tell junior just how much longer it will be.

Phone numbers:

Sometimes, you just need to talk to the staff before you make arrangements to pull off the highway.†YP – Yellow Pages for iPhone†- is one of the travel apps youíll find most useful for this. Needing to stop for an unexpected overnight? Call ahead from your cell phone to see if the hotel has family-friendly amenities like a swimming pool, breakfast buffet and cable TV. Is Rover along for the ride? Make sure you ask if thereís an additional pet fee. There are times when planning a vacation involves problem solving on the fly. Thatís when you want an app like this in your smart phone travel arsenal.

Bird spotting:

Family road trips provide a number of opportunities for bird spotting at campgrounds, rest stops and park visits. If youíre packing light and still want to allow for a little education along the way, make sure your list of travel apps includes†Audubon Birds – A Field Guide to North American Birds . The whole family can identify unusual birds from your smart phone, making it one of those activities you can incorporate on the fly.

Bottom line? The best travel apps for family road trips help you find what you need, get where youíre going and have fun along the way. In this age of fingertip-accessible technology, planning a vacation that doesnít include travel apps is the logistical equivalent of leaving home without your toothbrush. It just isnít recommended. Do you have some favorite travel apps for navigating family road trips successfully? Be sure to include your recommendations in the comment section below.

Photo Credit: Shino

Comments

  1. Lisa says:

    These are really cool and very helpful.

  2. Great tips, I had never heard of most of these apps and will definitely use them for my summer road trips!

  3. Jennifer says:

    Amazing how many cool apps are out there. These are great resources, even for solo travelers :)

  4. webmaster says:

    Thanks for all the great comments, ladies. Glad the article was helpful. I’m thinking the bingo app will keep a boatload of parents sane this summer.

  5. Vanessa says:

    Looks like a good list – checking some of them out now. Thanks :)

  6. I will have to try some of these apps. Thank you for the list.

  7. webmaster says:

    Hi Charles,

    Glad you found them helpful. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Happy trails!

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