From games for the kids to looking up local hot spots, here are some apps your family shouldn’t travel without this summer.
Kayak. Of all the travel deal comparison sites and apps, Kayak is a go-to. Besides comparing flights, lodging and rental car prices in real-time, you can set alerts to notify you if prices go up or down. It also includes pricing forecasts to see whether it’s better to buy now or wait.
TripIt. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone could organize all of your travel plans in one place? That’s the idea behind TripIt, where you forward your confirmation emails (hotels, flights, etc.) and then open up your whole itinerary on your device. You also can share the itinerary with others and even sync those plans into your smartphone’s calendar.
Stack the States. Use your travels as an excuse for your grade school kiddos to brush up on geography. This app makes it into a goofy game that will have your son or daughter distinguishing between Colorado and Kansas with ease.
Spotify. Among music apps, my teens like the flexibility Spotify gives to create playlists perfect for long road trips. You’ll need to pay to tap into all of Spotify’s features, but the free version should be enough to get you by — however, maybe not your tweens.
Netflix. If you already have Netflix at home, why not take it with you? My teenager downloads TV shows and movies to watch without Wi-Fi on her smartphone. If you happen to have Amazon Prime, there are videos available for download there, too.
Finding Your Way
Google Maps. Shuffling through stacks of maps is a thing of the past. Google maps not only gives you directions, it also can even provide street views. In big cities, it’ll give you the transit information you need to use
the local buses or subways. In more rural spots, use it offline so you can still find where you’re going, no Wi-Fi needed.
Enjoying Your Stay
Trip Advisor. For reviews of restaurants, along with ideas for things to do once we get to our destination, we tap on Trip Advisor. We’ve found that its extensive library of locales includes just about anywhere we want to go. Plus, I enjoy reading through the destination reviews, which can be pretty entertaining.
WhatsApp. Don’t want to change your coverage plan while visiting another country? You don’t need to with WhatsApp. Text and call from the app wherever you have Wi-Fi. We were able to keep in touch with our daughter while she was in China through the app. We even did a video call — the only problem was figuring out the time difference.
Google Translate. This app feels like it’s straight out of Star Trek. Enable the camera function on your smartphone and hover it over a foreign language. Google Translate will have text appear in the language of your choosing. Menu in French in Montreal? No problem — you’ll be able to know exactly what you’re ordering. Big bonus? You don’t need to be connected to the internet for it to work. Très bon.