Apps and travel go together like summer and pool time. There are so many app choices out there with very different uses when it comes to travel. I’m going to skip the travel booking apps and get straight to the apps that you’ll use while you’re actually in the car. From driving directions and dog-friendly restaurants to last minute hotels and crazy road side attractions your kids will love—pack these handy road trip apps to keep the drive smooth, steady and fun.
Waze | Free | iOS, Android, Windows
This is the superhero of navigation apps. Not only does it tell you how long it will take to get to your destination, and offer alternate routes if you don’t like the main one, but the info is derived from other drivers. Get warnings of upcoming police and hazards on the road. Older kids might have fun adding updates themselves. Just watch out, it’s a battery suck. Have it plugged in to battery juice from your car if you’re going to use it for any length of time.
Roadtrippers | Free | iOS, Android
Your road trip is way cooler than you think it is. Use this app to plan your route and your pitstops. From suggestions for Diners, Drive-ins and Dives to Route 66 Attractions and Offbeat hotels – this is a one stop shop road trip app whether you’re using it ahead of time or on the road. Check out the website before you download for lots of inspiration. I’ve used it to find great kid-friendly restaurants and parks.
Road Ninja | Free | iOS, Android
This app helps you find out what kind of services are coming up at future exits. Need a McDonald’s break? How about some cheap gas? I recommend setting this app up in advance of your trip so you can control the amount and type of options you want to see in your app for upcoming exits and budget travelers can even scroll through promotions for nearby deals.
Hotel Tonight | Free | iOS, Android, Windows
OK, I said I was going to stay away from travel booking apps, but I used this app on a road trip last year and I find it incredibly handy. Hotel Tonight helps you find a last minute hotel room at a discounted price. Handy, right?! I particularly love that they classify the hotels by easy to distinguish categories like Solid, Hip, Luxe. Check out all the different destinations they cover across the U.S. and worldwide. https://www.hoteltonight.com/
Bring Fido | Free | iOS
If you’re bringing your dog(s) on your next epic American road trip, you’ll want to find pet friendly hotels, parks, and dog friendly restaurants. This app has you covered. Find photos and user ratings of the hotels, too. Go ahead, make your life easier.
Tales 2 Go | Free trial (subscription $99.99/year) | iOS
What? Your kids get car sick looking at books and apps in the car? No sweat. Tales2Go is here to help. It’s the Netflix of audio books. Follow your favorite book characters, listen in Spanish, choose books by celebrity narrator or by grade level. It really brings the whole family together not to mention makes your road trip more educational. Win win. There is a subscription fee but they also give you a free 30-day trial.
Mad Libs | Free, $1.99 for 21 pack story additions | iOS
Bridge the gap between the old school road trip fun you used to have when you were a kid and the digital age version for your own children. Type in nouns, take pictures or use photos from your smartphone or iPad’s photo gallery, and watch the comedy ensue. It even saves your story as a photo for recalling the fun after the trip has ended.
Roadside America | $2.99 + $1.99 for certain sections or $5.99 all access | iOs
Ever wanted to take your picture next to a crazy large object on the side of the road? This is your app. Introduce your kids to the weird and wonderful across our United States of America. Editors review their favorites and you can check off which ones you’ve already visited. And there’s even a sunset alarm so you get the heads up for your last photo opportunities. They also make it easy to share your discoveries through Facebook and Twitter.
Visited States | $.99 | iOS
It’s OK if Dad said you couldn’t plaster a magnetic States map across your car. This app lets you mark off which states you’ve already been to. It’s a simple app but does the trick. And you can brag to your friends about where you’ve been by sending them images of your map.
Happy and safe travels!