Did your parents have a giant Road Atlas for every road trip? Maybe you remember being able to say goodbye to Grandma right at the airport gate? My how travel has changed. While somethings may be harder {ugh, TSA lines}, technology has taken some of the hassle out of the family getaway. Apps have replaced the Atlas, much to the glee of trees the world over. The key is knowing which family travel apps you need.

Trekking across the globe, down many a winding road, and through countless TSA lines with – and without– kids in tow has taught me the value of a good app at every point on the map. I also readily admit that I’ve stumbled upon quite a few duds. Here is a small sampling of some that have saved me time, money and sanity. 

family travel apps you need

Getting there isn’t half the struggle, planning what to do is.

Findery is a treasure map for travelers looking for hidden gems, off the beaten path destinations, and insider info.  Travelers leave little gems in the form of notes about places they’ve been. Then geo-location wizardry takes over.

Who knew that convenience store with the dusty windows was open, let alone that Nepalese family that owns it is cooking up amazing Momo {Nepali meat dumplings}  in the back? Somebody on Findery did – and they left a note which showed up in my search. This app is great for those days when you’re twenty-four hours into a three-day trip and have already exhausted all your ideas. 

“Findery has a long list of crowd sourced sightseeing tips in locations ranging from Mexico and Dubai to Nicaragua and New York.” ~National Geographic.

Findery is also great for those of us who love to share our travel tips but don’t have enough time to get every detail into, say… a blog post. {cough. cough.}  I created a Findery note after noshing on the best warm olives this side of Sicily right here in Baltimore.

According to some reports the average family spends as much as 44% of their travel budget on getting to, from and around their destination of choice. That’s a whole lot of scratch. Wouldn’t it be nice to save some of that for the fun stuff? Hopper might be able to help with that by cluing you in on when to fly and when to buy.

Sites like Kayak or Expedia give you the ability to search flights by destination, dates and prices. Hopper goes beyond that with a little prognostication. 

Most travel experts, or travel addicts like me, can tell you that Tuesday afternoons are best for snapping up those illusive airfare deals. Hopper tells you when the flight you want is going to be the least expensive – sometimes that info doesn’t roll out on a Tuesday.

Hopper’s platform gathers historical data, watches trends and makes a best guess on when you’ll save the most. The app lets you set up push notifications so that you a) don’t miss that deal, b) can go have a life and not hover over the interwebs searching for flights.

One of the reasons I’ve deemed this a must-have app is that the information they provide is easy to digest. You never get buried under an avalanche of emails or cascading windows with confusing information. A few taps and a swipe and I’ve got the best priced tickets in hand.

One app to rule them all. Okay maybe it’s not as Middle Earth as all that but TripIt is sort of magic in that it takes all those itinerary details and makes them easily manageable. 

TripIt is much like having your own personal secretary. Simply forward all those confirmation emails to Clive {every good personal secretary should have a stuffy English name} and he insures that you know where you need to be and when. He’ll even let you know if there are any hiccups with your flight, like delays or gate changes. Not having to stand at airport boards with the kids demanding you change the channel to Doc McStuffins, priceless.

TripIt puts your whole trip right at your fingertips on all your devices. Last year I took my teen daughter to Ireland. On the flight from Boston to Dublin my phone died. So did my backup battery. Don’t ask. Luckily my iPad was still alive and all the trip info was right there.

Some people love to pack. I loathe it. Packpoint is the perfect app for both of us.

Tell Packpoint where you’re going, how long you’ll be there and what type of trip you’re taking and the app builds you a packing list. You can also add activities like that fancy dinner you’ll get to have sans offspring, and it will remind you what to pack. Packpoint can prevent any number of packing emergencies. You won’t find yourself running out to buy a new pair of shoes because your Chuck’s just don’t go with that LBD.

Yes, sometimes it adds way more than you need to pack. To be honest though that feature has helped me remember to pack things I hadn’t even thought of.

We can make grand plans to hit every museum, landmark and attraction in town, but as we all know our kids often have other plans. Sometimes you just really need a playground. KIDzOUT gets that and has your back.

This app helps you find that sanity saving playground and more. If what you need is a restaurant that serves their favorite noodles, KIDzOUT can help out. Still part of the diaper bag brigade? This app can even find the nearest place with a decent diaper deck.

Hands down though the best feature – that I hope you’ll never need- is the Medical Finder. One of the worst things ever is to need and have to find a doctor when you’re in an unfamiliar city. KIDzOUT can point you in the direction of the help you’ll need.

As Tarō Gomi taught us… everybody poops. Finding clean place to do that when you’re traveling can be quite the quest. The SitOrSquat app, fittingly from the manufacturers of Charmin, helps locate not just the nearest restroom but rates how clean it is. Avoid the worst of the gas station restrooms and festival port-a-potty nightmares with this very practical, if a little giggle worthy, app.

Do you have a go-to travel app that you just can’t go anywhere without? Do tell!