Taking a road trip with kids any time of the year can be an ordeal, but especially during the holidays, what with all of America doing the same thing on the exact same days. That’s where travel apps come in to make our lives so much easier if we’re hitting the highways this Thanksgiving–and beyond.
Here’s a few of our must-have travel apps for holiday road trips with the family.
For Getting Ready: Packing Pro app (iOS)
One of the biggest challenges I’ve found traveling with kids, even for just a weekend, is packing. My kids have a tendency to pack lots of extraneous items and forget the essentials, like underwear or their toothbrushes. The Packing Pro app helps make sure everyone has exactly what they need. Yes, even for those of us who ought to know better by now–or who are too busy checking up on everyone else to remember to pack a swimsuit for ourselves.
For finding food along the way: Trip Stop (iOS)
While of course we recommend packing plenty of road trip snacks for the kids, at some point you’ll want to stop and stretch and Trip Stop is a huge help. Enter your destination, tell it what you want to eat–and when–and voila, your options appear. From fast food to something fancier, it’s nice to know there’s something to eat off exit 42B, when you’ve still got a ways to go until you get off at exit 97.
For emergency bathroom runs and french fry cravings: iExit (iOS and Android)
It’s not the prettiest of apps but it’s sure helpful. Instead of just guessing what’s off that there exit of there, this app lets you know exactly what’s there, from gas to food to restrooms. Often all three at the same place, as those of us frequent highway travelers have learned. Plus, it’s nice to know just where that Dunkin’ Donuts is, because nothing is more annoying than seeing a sign for a place, getting off the exit to find it, then learning it’s 8 more miles down a country road.
For tuning in or tuning out: Spotify (iOS, Android)
While we all have our XM/Sirius favorites (and of course, our kids are obsessed with Kids Place Live), sometimes you just want a little more control over your playlist. Spotify is coming out ahead with parents as far as ease of use and number of tracks, though darn, we wish Peter Gabriel would get on board. We’ve offered suggestions for Spotify in the past besides creating custom playlists, like playing name that tune (let the non-driver control your device though please). Or look for karaoke versions of songs without lyrics so you can all sing along.
For a caffeine injection: Starbucks App (iOS and Android)
There are some times you simply can’t go another mile without a hazelnut latte. (Just us?) Find the nearest locations using this app–which by the way, also double for the nearest clean bathrooms a lot of the time.
For keeping the kid entertained: Too many to count
We recently rounded up 16 of the best road trip apps for kids of all ages, from educational to just plain fun, for both Android and iOS. That’s a great place to start; but since then, we’ve also discovered the wonderful 52 Fun Things to Do in the Car app (at top) and if that’s not meant for keeping kids engaged and happy, then we don’t know what is.
For documenting it all when it’s through: Animoto Video Editing (iOS, Android)
We are such longtime fans of Animoto’s wonderful, easy platform that turns your photo memories into a professional looking video set to music. Especially since they’ve gone mobile with great apps for Android and iOS. Hand it to the kids in the back seat on the way home from your trip, and let them go to town with their own favorite photos in your camera roll. It will be fun to see the journey from everyone’s perspective in your family. And we imagine there will be a few surprise photos in there; kids are sneaky when it comes to grabbing your phone’s camera when you’re not looking. –Julie + Liz