Six Apps For Family Activities We Love For Travel

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As a traveling family, using travel apps for family activities is one way we minimize the amount of things we carry when we travel. They also serve as tools to help us plan travel and explore destinations.

Navigation apps like Google Maps allows our family to get around a city without having to carry a physical map with us. We can even research public transit options using Google Maps. Apps like Airbnb, Booking, and Agoda allow us to book lodging conveniently. And ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft help us travel around a city without have to figure out how to hail a cab.

Additionally, certain destinations have their own locations-specific apps which we love using. In Seattle, One Bus Away helps us navigate the bus system. While in Indonesia, the Gojek app helps us order a ride, as well as order food, laundry, and send money.

Note: This post was updated on November 27, 2019.

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A smart phone sits on top of an open journal, ready to use apps for family activities
Travel journal and phone (July 2014)

Our favorite apps for family activities

As a technology-loving family who also loves to travel, we’re always looking for apps for family activities that we can use while we travel. We’ve tried a number of travel apps over the years. Some of the apps we’ve loved, and some we would never use again.

Now that we’ve had several years of family travel under our belt, we’ve found a few apps that have helped us where ever we go. From traveling on the road to keeping in touch with friends, here are six apps for family activities we love to use for family travel.

Enjoying a sunset on the beach (March 2019)


Our family loves road trips.  We enjoy traveling to eastern Washington to visit my parents. We also like going down to San Diego to visit my mother in law, or traveling across the country. Being on the road so much, we need a travel app that can help us maneuver through the traffic or road blocks that come our way.

That’s why we like to use Waze, a traffic and navigation app. Waze does more than just give directions. Using community-edited maps, Waze highlights any upcoming road blocks, road closures, or traffic along your route, so that you can find a more smoother route.

For us, when we’re driving through a new city and are unfamiliar with the shortcuts that only locals would know, having something like Waze around is really helpful in allowing us to bypass traffic.

A road in Mexico, where you can use Waze app for family activities
A road in Mexico (November 2018)


Since we don’t like to travel with a lot of books, the Kindle app is a useful one to have on our phones and our iPads. The Kindle app is tied to an Amazon account, but we can also use it to read e-books that we’ve checked out from the Seattle Public Library.

Our favorite books to read on our Kindle app are Bob Books for my son, and graphic novels, like Real Friends, for my daughter. We also like downloading guidebooks of the countries we’re visiting. Having the Kindle app on our phone makes it so much easier to pass the time if we’re waiting at an airport or a visa office. We just pull out our phones and start reading books to our kids!

Reading an actual book in Washington, DC (September 2018)


When we travel, we like trying to communicate in the local language. That’s why we love Duolingo. It’s a language learning app that’s fun to use, even for kids. And, there are over 32 languages to learn from!

We like using Duolingo for our own language learning, but the app is actually easy enough for kids to use, with some adult supervision. Our daughter enjoys learning Indonesian on the Duolingo app.

Traveling through Spanish-speaking Costa Rica (March 2019)


When exploring a new city, we love to try and find places that are frequented by the locals. On our trip to New York City last summer, and a more recent trip to Vancouver, BC, we relied a lot on Yelp to help us find restaurants and places to visit in the city.

In the world of online and mobile apps, Yelp is considered an old man. The website was created in 2004, and the mobile app was first introduced to the iPhone in 2008. What we love about Yelp are the user-generated reviews. It’s almost like asking a local friend where the best place is to grab a bite to eat. Another thing we love about Yelp is that it’s currently active in 27 countries. So we can definitely use it when we travel overseas.

Taking public transporation in Bangkok (July 2012)


In many countries, people use WhatsApp to communicate with one another. WhatsApp works like a text messenger app, allowing you to send texts to one another as well as photos, videos, and links. We like sending video messages back and forth with our friends using WhatsApp.

While WhatsApp is not necessarily something that our kids can use to pass the time, it certainly is a helpful tool to have when planning family activities during travel. We chat with tour providers via WhatsApp, and even share photos of our activities with our relatives back home.

A phone with hands holding the phone and using phone apps for family activities
Using travel apps

Stop Motion Studio

One of the apps for family activities that our kids have fallen in love with recently is the Stop Motion Studio app. This app allows kids the chance to create their own stop motion animation movie.

Our kids love making movies while we’re traveling. And if we’re having a chill out travel day, they’ll launch this app and start making stop motion movies using their Legos and toys. It’s a great way to get their creative juices pouring!

A staircase in the Vatican City (June 2019)

Our ever-evolving list of apps for family activities

From helping us find the best route to travel on the road, to looking up the best local restaurant to grab a bite to eat, we love using these travel apps to make our trip the best that it can be. Other apps we use that have been helpful for our travels include Skyscanner for booking flights, Mint for keeping track of our travel budget, YouTube and Amazon (Prime video) for entertainment, Marco Polo for connecting with friends and family back home, and Polar Steps for documenting our travels.

This list is currently evolving and changing. As our kids grow, our travel needs develop and adjust. For the time being, these are the apps for family activities that we use for travel.

Are there any travel apps that you like using for your family? Share with me your most useful apps for family activities in the comments.

Six Apps For Family Activities We Love For Family Travel | The Wandering Daughter

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Hi, I'm Astrid

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I'm a travel-loving mom of three from Seattle. Join our adventures as we explore the Pacific Northwest and the world!



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