Whether we are traveling down the road or around the world, one thing we’re sure to have with us these days in our cell phones. There are tons of apps out there, but which are useful and which are junk? Here’s our list of apps deserving of a place on our phones. While we are Android people, these apps are available on iOS, as well.
Find Me Gluten Free ~ Justin’s diagnosis with Celiac Disease last year has made us look at food on the road in a whole new way, but we have no intention of allowing it to put a damper on our travels. This app helps to locate gluten free options in restaurants nearby, and includes information on the experiences of others.
Yelp ~ This familiar standby is still a favorite, and (depending where we are) can be more reliable at times. It’s like the Yellow Pages for restaurants and bars, plus their offerings have expanded to include a wide variety of services, like dry cleaners and more.
TV Food Maps ~ Sometimes it’s fun to visit that place from No Reservations, Unique Eats, or Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, right? This app is an entertaining way to shake things up on occasion and check out a restaurant with a little star power.
Where to Stay
Hotels.com ~ After many years of collecting points all over the place, we long ago found being (mostly) loyal to one booking site works for us. We get a free night for every ten nights we stay, and have excellent customer service with our gold status.
Priceline ~ For those times when a last minute change requires another option, I am a fan of the Priceline backup plan. I like the option of choosing something for cheap as we pull into town, but it can be a bit like a game of roulette, so I only use it when I have the energy to deal with any potential unforeseen circumstances. (Like the time I got a room with $50 valet parking….)
Fly Delta ~ Our airline of choice for domestic flights has a decent app for planning and managing travel. It gives an electronic copy of your boarding pass, has up-to-date flight updates and upgrade information, and lets you track your bag. Justin loves that it pairs up with his smart watch, and he can even get his boarding pass on his wrist!
Mobile Passport ~ This app is only accepted at 25 U.S. airports (and 3 cruise ports) so far, but the possibilities in the future for this one make it worthy of space on my phone. Mobile Passport facilitates the customs process for U.S. Citizens coming into the country by allowing you to skip the line to scan your passport.
Google Maps ~ I can barely remember getting places prior to Google Maps, but I do recall getting lost a lot. And taking the wrong bridge in Vancouver more than once. I love Google Maps, not just for helping me get where I need to be, but for rerouting me around the sorry suckers stuck in miles of traffic.
Gas Buddy ~ Another crowdsourced app that makes road trips easier, Gas Buddy is great for comparing prices and avoiding the companies you prefer not fill up at, as well as steering clear of the dreaded E. (This info is available in Google Maps, too, but it’s nice to have options that don’t include Google solving your every problem!)
iExit ~ This guide to interstate exits is exactly what it sounds like. Let it find your location or tell it where you are going and figure out what’s ahead.
ParkMe ~ This app is a blessing when dealing with city parking situations, especially since it isn’t our norm. It helps with finding a spot, identifying pricing and rules, and even has a timer so you don’t get caught out with a surprise under your windshield wiper when you return to the car.
Google Translate ~ This app was such a lifesaver on our trip to Spain! There are so many ways to use it, including pointing your phone at a sign (or menu) when you can’t quite work out what it says.
What’s App ~ While in the U.S. we are likely to text message, in other countries What’s App is far more common. When exchanging contact info with other homeschool families, we find it helpful to have this pre-installed.
AAA ~ For those times the Road Trip Gods are not quite on your side, an AAA membership is the best accessory a family can have. The app offers a simple way to access roadside assistance when you’re in a jam.
Doctor on Demand ~ I once sought medical help for an ailing preschooler in our car at a rest stop outside Chicago, and picked up a prescription the doc called in to a nearby pharmacy she found for me. After that experience, this is one app we never travel without.
We love to find new and interesting places to explore on a road trip – our youngest could identify signs for roadside attractions, national parks, and state parks before she could read – so these are some fun apps we enjoy for feeding that interest.
Passport: Your National Parks ~ This digital version of the book we have loved for years has some great features, including locating nearby parks and sharing park facts. You can track your visits and create a wish list, too.
Roadtrippers ~ Designed to help with trip planning, this can be a fun way to explore nearby places and search for fun along your route. There are travel guides and itineraries, and an ability to share for collaboration purposes. I have admittedly not used most of the features available here, but it has a lot to offer!
Roadside America ~ I love this website, and consult it often when exploring the quirky on the road – like when we visited the Iowa Frying Pan! (The app doesn’t seem to be available anymore, so surf over to the website instead.)
Field Trip ~ This app pairs with Google maps to tell you more about the area around you. This especially comes in handy when a roadside attraction leaves you with more questions than answers. There is tons here, and it pairs well with worldschooling on the road for making travel just that much more educational.
Beyond Pod ~ Whether it is the latest news, cultural analysis, a funny story, or a murder mystery, we love a good podcast. If the Buick is headed down the highway, we are probably engaged in this frequently used app.
Sky Map ~ What’s that light in the sky? Which planet is on the horizon? Where’s the Big Dipper? At home or on the road, we are huge fans of this skygazing app from Google. Plus it rocks for combatting kiddo boredom when you have a few miles to go before bed.
License Plate Travel Game ~ This app is 99 cents well worth it if your family loves to play this classic game like we do. We used to have a dry erase card in the glove box, but this is far easier to keep track of!
BroadwayHD ~ When it’s time to put in some headphones and decompress, we are big fans of a Broadway musical on the small screen for a timeout. This is a monthly subscription service, so not a free app, but we have found it well worth it. It’s possible we have played CATS as many times as the average Broadway run!
Amazon Rapids ~ Offering read-along and self-reading modes, this reading app is designed for kids 5-12 and is an engaging way to expose kids to hundreds of fun stories. Other features include tap to say a word and a glossary to build vocabulary. Previously a subscription service, the app went free in 2018.
What would you add to this list? Share your favorite apps for travel in the comments!