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.
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.
One Bus Away
Another of the apps for family activities that I personally love is One Bus Away. I use a lot of public transportation in my daily commute, and at home One Bus Away lets me see how far away my next bus is. When we travel, in cities that have one bus away, it helps us see what buses are available for us.
I can also use the app to see what buses are near my current location, and where those buses are headed. One Bus Away is currently available in select areas (Atlanta, Puget Sound, Tampa, New York City, and the York Region in Canada), but I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before more cities are added.
Back in August of 2014, I stumbled across Turo, a peer-to-peer car rental service. I was looking for a way to put my extra car to use, and earn a couple of dollars on the side. Using the Airbnb model, Turo allows car owners to rent out their cars to people who are in need of an affordable car rental option.
Turo is active in many cities across the country. It is a great alternative to the typical car rental company, like Budget or Enterprise. Turo even offers airport car rentals in select airports like SFO, IAD, PDX, or LAX. Being on the owner end, I have yet to use Turo from the renter’s perspective, but I like the idea of being able to offer people an affordable option of renting a car.
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.
Baby Monitor 3G
When traveling with youngsters, especially infants and toddlers, you don’t always want to lug along a bulky baby monitor. With the Baby Monitor 3G app, you can turn your iPhone, iPad, or computer into a baby monitor. My husband and I both have this app for family activities on our phones. So whenever we travel someplace, we put one phone where our kids are sleeping, and keep the other phone near us.
The app will signal when our kids are awake. It also lets us hear any unusual sounds our kids may make. The only stipulation is that we need to have internet connection, whether it’s through wifi or LTE/3G.
The final app for family activities that we love to use is Skype. It lets us stay connected to our loved ones back home when we’re traveling overseas. When we were on our Southeast Asia trip in 2012, we used Skype on our iPad to talk to my mother in law.
And when we missed our flight out of Paraguay, I was able to use Skype to call my boss and tell her I would be delayed in getting back to work. Skype also allows us to make local calls at a pretty cheap price. When I was traveling through India, I used Skype to get in contact with my friend and meet up with him for the day. I didn’t have time to buy a local phone and SIM card, and didn’t want to pay the exorbitant hotel prices to make a local call. So I called him using Skype, and only paid pennies to the minute.
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. This list is currently evolving and changing. As our kids grow and our travel needs develop. But for the time being these are the apps for family activities that we use for travel.
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