Guest Blogger Jane Johnson: Plan Your Family Vacation with the Travel Best Apps of 2012

5 family-friendly travel apps that will make your next vacation as smooth as can be

Planning a family vacation is a lot of work. You have to make sure the kids are occupied, you stop at restaurants that everyone likes, and that you plan a route with frequent rest stops along the way. Family vacations, especially the good old family road trip, tend to be a disaster before they’ve even started. That’s where travel apps can be the glue that holds your family together. The following 5 apps, for the iPhone and Android devices, can provide some family therapy on particularly long stretches of highway with no restrooms or diners in site for 100 miles.

Download the following 5 best travel apps for planning your family vacation and keep the interior of the family car from the vacation from hell:

1. Google Maps (Free – for Android)

You can’t rely on a printed map these days for family travel. Not when you to find a quick rest stop for grandpa, Gravol for a belly-aching child, or the latest fashion rag for your teenage daughter. And what happens if you need a hotel? A printed map doesn’t mark anything but the towns, highways, and hospitals. However, an app like Google Maps features all of the rest stops, hotels, gas stations and any other place in the area you might need to make a quick stop at. Use Google Maps ahead of time to plan your route, schedule rest stops and eating times, as well as what nights you’ll splurge for a hotel.

2. SitOrSquat (Free – for iPhone)

This app is particularly for the accident prone members of your family—meaning those little ones with teeny bladders. So when you hear, “Mommy, I gotta go!” you can launch Sit or Squat, the travel app that searches for the nearest public bathroom by address, city, zip code or intersection, from its huge database. SitOrSquat will ensure you’re family can count on answering nature’s call whenever a leak is threatening to spring.

3. Roadside America ($2.99 – for iPhone)

You can’t plan a family road trip without taking in a bit of the nostalgia, bizzaro, stuff of legend that is Roadside America. Yes, I’m talking about the world’s largest ball of twine, the old woman who lived in the shoe’s house, and the world’s largest chili pepper. What American family wouldn’t want to take in all of this glory? Well good thing for the Roadside America app, a tool that will help you choose a route with specific detour directions to some of America’s most bizarre roadside oddities. I mean if the Bigfoot Museum was only two miles off the highway, you bet I’m taking the time to see it and snap a picture or two! Plus, it’s a great way to infuse some fun, and cut the tension, into your next family vacation.

4. Georeader (Free – for Android)

For more educationally-minded family ventures, there’s Georeader, an app that integrates a little historical learning into your family vacation. Stop and grace the steps of old courthouses, walk the historic graveyards, meander long forgotten hiking trails, and catch a bite where our ancestors once chowed down as well. Georeader will guide you to historical sites with accompanying audio, and you can decide which sites are worth stopping for before you begin thanks to the user reviews, travel tips, and map directions. Owners of the T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S have reported trouble logging in to the application, although the problem appears to be fixed now.

5. Mom Maps ($2.99 – for iPhone)

Finding restaurants that everyone likes on your family road trip is a lot easier than finding one that everyone in the family agrees on. For instance, you might want a restaurant with a kids’ menu, a seniors’ discount, or a gluten-free option. Mom Maps app comes to the rescue by letting you plan where you’ll eat ahead of time, or by taking the guess work out of where you will eat if you’re suddenly famished out in the middle of nowhere.

Bio: Jane Johnson is a writer for GoingCellular, a popular site that provides cell phone related news, commentary, reviews on popular providers like T-Mobile.

4 thoughts on “Guest Blogger Jane Johnson: Plan Your Family Vacation with the Travel Best Apps of 2012

  1. Thank you for the kind words about Georeader app. Being a history buff, this app has been a “labor of love” for me and I hope others can learn some interesting local history about the area they are driving through. The iphone version will be ready in about 2 months and I am currently working on expanding the content with expanded descriptions for many existing points. Just finished up Wyoming, Guam(!) and Puerto Rico. Working on Connecticut now. Dave

  2. Google Maps has been a life saver on a lot of my family road trips, so I definitely agree its one of the best to have around. I haven’t heard too much about the other apps you mentioned, but I’m definitely going to give them a try and download them for my trip this summer. There is one app not included in your list that I thought I would recommend called DISH Remote Access. With it, I can just give my kids the iPad or my iPhone and they’ll be able to watch all their favorite programming from home, live or recorded on the device anywhere we get 3G/4G or Wi-Fi. It’s helped occupy the kids many times and will continue too for a long time, lol. I’ve been using it since I found out about it at work at DISH one night a couple years ago and even find myself using it on business trips and on lunch breaks. It comes in handy a lot of the time. 🙂

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