I remember when we used to take our long 12 hour drive across the midwest each summer. My sister would sit on the right side, as I always sat behind my dad. In the early days, we had a few toys, and possibly some books. There was a lot of staring out the window, and a lot of, well, nothing. As I got older, I discovered music, and eventually had a walkman, and then a cd discman (so, dating myself a little here…).
However, this isn’t a post about things you can do on electronic devices, but rather, how to utilize them to make your trip even more fun and memorable. And, also, how to keep yourself sane when taking along young ones. These will require you to get out of the car a little bit, but hey, we all need to stretch our legs every once in a while, right?
- Geocaching – Free for Android as c:geo | Official app $10.00 for IOS ~ Works offline
- Geocaching is a worldwide treasure hunt by which you find very small to shoe-boxed sized containers hidden in various places using GPS through your mobile device, or a handheld GPS unit. Inside you find shareable items (SWAG), such as small trinkets and toys. More and more, I’ve been finding junk, but it is still worth the effort. My family and I have found some beautiful, off the map locations – even in our own city. The kids like it, and you get to, in many cases, get deep into nature. This is a fun way to explore places along your trip – to get out and stretch your legs.
- Birding – Peterson Birds of North America for IOS: Free to $15.99. ~ Works offline (the costly one)
- There are many different birding apps, by the Peterson Birds of North America is currently my favorite. I’m by no means a bird expert, but, I don’t really have to be with this app. We use this to identify birds, and as a scavenger hunt. Since we can narrow it down specifically to our location and the time of year, we know which birds to look for, and soooo much about who they are. This app also has an excellent search so that you can identify almost any bird you see.
- Foraging/plant identification – Wild Edibles: free – $10.00 ~ Android & IOS
- There aren’t many I can recommend here, solely because I’ve yet to find one that has a proper search. It’s difficult to identify plants when you — cannot identify them. However, I’ve also seen this being the case with field guides. I mean, it’s a little difficult to narrow things down in those, too.
- There is a website that I like really like that helps narrow down wildflowers. Though it is not an app, it is easily viewable through your web browser: http://www.mywildflowers.com/identify.asp.
- Skymap (Android) | Skywalk (IOS) Free
- I like the IOS version better, but they both tend to be a little finicky, and I can’t say that I completely understand them. However, being able to find constellations, and what the big bright luminary in the sky is, is always fun. Plus, there are some great stories that can be told of the stars.
- My nature animal tracks $4.99
- I haven’t actually tried this app just yet, but plan to on my next camping trip. Tracking isn’t very hard, but having an app (especially if it has photo taking capability) would give more information about the critter, plus allow for quick scrapbooking items.
These two sites have some really great apps that I have yet to try, and may save specifically for camping…