Great Travel Apps for Families on the Go

Smart phone apps: either you already have them in copious supply and love ’em, or you don’t, in which case you fail to see what all the hoopla is about, right? Once upon a time, I fell into the latter category, so as someone fairly new to the iPhone and app world, allow me to be the one to convince you: you want apps with you on the road.

Your iPhone WAS made for little hands!


Apps keep your kids entertained during long road trips, flight delays, and lengthy restaurant waits.

I make it a point to download a few new game apps for my kids just before any major travel enterprise. On our most recent trip, the games that gave our 8 and 10-year-olds the most entertainment mileage included the arcade-style Doodle Jump and group discussion game What Would You Choose?, in which players ask a series of ‘this’ or ‘that’ questions that can lead to fun (and hilarious) car-ride discussions. (My kids especially loved the ‘disgusting’ category…surprise, surprise.)

Our five-year-old recently discovered My Little Suitcase, an interactive app by our current Monthly Sponsor, My Busy Kit. In My Little Suitcase, young travelers try their hand at packing their own suitcases before heading off to destinations around the globe. (If you like what you see, remember to submit a pit stop to enter our giveaway of a My Busy Kit!)

A great app for young children brought to you by the makers of My Busy Kit!

Apps point you in the right direction. Want to find that certain museum everyone raved about before you left home? Wish you knew which local restaurant without nuggets on the menu is the most kid-friendly? Short of a local guide to lead you through an unfamiliar area, city guide and/or specialized travel apps are a traveling parent’s best friend.

Our favorite city-specific app is Michele Bigley’s Family Friendly San Francisco, a wonderfully detailed app chock full of information about the California Bay Area. I especially love the map feature, which shows you the distances between your destinations at a glance, and the fact that BART and bus stop info is listed for every entry. And if you’re planning a tour of the wine country, good news: Bigley has come out with a new app: Napa and Sonoma with Kids.

If you’re traveling to multiple areas, or just passing through a city and desperately need a children’s museum or great playground, MomMaps has you covered. Pit Stops for Kids is excited to be a contributor to this great app where you’ll quickly find the closest play space or changing table thanks to GPS technology.

Apps simply make travel life easier. At least two whole screens of my iPhone are devoted to on-the-go apps I can’t live without, from well-known Yelp and UrbanSpoon to a tip calculator. Google Earth works wonders in a pinch as both a park locator and a kid’s distraction, and my Cheap Gas! app takes me to any city or town’s best buy. Oh, and Pandora Radio is a must for the adults in the car.

Final Tips:

We find most of our top favorite kid apps via Moms with Apps and Best Kid Apps, whose comprehensive reviews make hitting that iTunes ‘purchase’ button quick and easy. (And until May 9th, if you blog yourself, you can enter to win an iPad at Best Kid Apps by simply inserting the following in your blog posts: I’m participating in a contest at Best Kids Apps, a blog about iPhone apps for kids, for a chance to win an iPad.)

And remember, all this smart phone use is going to seriously deplete your battery life. Our pick for a car charger is Belkin’s original.

About the author

Pit Stops for Kids AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.




  1. Amanda O'Brien says:

    We have a family vacation every year were we travel just a few hours to Orlando, Fl with our 6 year old and he has a hard time being in the car, lots of energy. So this year when we went I had some activities to help him, like car bingo and I spy, but he quickly gets tired of playing those games. So I had downloaded a fun little game that I thought he would enjoy. It’s like a bubble popper game but with fun ninjas and crazy sushi. The game is called Evil Sushi Squish and they have a free version but recently (right before our trip) they came out with a full version on Android and iPhone. Once my son started to play he didn’t put it down till we got to Orlando, Fl. We also found out that they have a web site that has printable games and color sheets, the web site is Evil Sushi Squish!, defiantly a life saver on this trip.

  2. Great tip! Thanks for sharing that app! I’ll download it before our next trip!

  3. It’s hard to find knowledgeable people for this
    subject, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about!

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