Family and home

7 apps to make your family travel much more efficient

Because planes are so expensive and trains are a little slow, we do most of our family vacations via automobile. We try to make the trips fun, but we also make sure that everything else around us flows smoothly. Even when driving shorter trips (an hour or more), I like to have things organized, and ready-to-go. Here are a few of my favorite apps to use while on the road:

Google Keep – (Android) | Stock notes app on IOS Free

Any notes app will do, but one that syncs with the web, and has a checklist feature is ideal. My favorite at the moment is Google Keep. I can add new items at my desktop, create entirely new notes in an instant, and equally view/create them on my mobile device. Another great one is Evernote. With the notes app, you can plan out your trip and create packing lists, plus have the ability to add items as they pop up for you throughout the day (which is different than having an at home paper list). I’ve also used this app when we were out on the road for making a list of the things we’ve forgotten — so we remember them next time.

Sit or SquatFree

A very useful app by way of Charmin that helps you figure out where the nearest bathroom to sit is (versus squat). This is extremely useful for little girls of all ages. Men…. meh.  They’ll be gross anyway ^_^. Many of the bathrooms that I found using this app have both a picture, and ratings.


There are so many different weather apps available, but this one has been a longtime favorite of mine. Keep up with the weather around you as you are traveling, and receive alerts for where you are while you are on the road. If you are traveling during a time of really bad weather, the Red Cross app is doubly useful to getting you to shelter and resources.

Road NinjaFree

This app will give you information about the exits that you are approaching, and has details of accommodations, food, and gas. Think of it like an interactive green exit sign with much more detail. However, I did find things to work a little slowly, and that there were many venues that were missed.

Google photo sync | IOS photo cloud backup

Please, please, for the love of all things holy, make sure you backup your photos for to the cloud. My dear mother’s friend went to Disney a few weeks ago. She has very few pictures. Out of many. Why? They were removed from her mobile device. I’m not entirely sure what happened there, but I do know that I do my best to tell people to always backup their photos to the web. Always. Don’t like Facebook or Instagram? There are many others, and you should be able to find one that tickles your fancy. For me, and mine, I use Google Photos for backup, and Smugmug (Android | IOS) since that is where they will eventually find themselves (not free).  Since my Android does an automagic backup to Google, I never have to worry about a lost picture.

USA Rest Stop Locator – Android Free  | IOS  Free

Although sit or squat will help you find a clean restroom, this app can help you find both a clean restroom, and a nice place to stretch your legs. Of course, this is better than the other one if you also have pets and want a good place to let them roam free. As a bonus, this app also lists welcome centers. Because of that, you can find more information about all of the tourist places on actual, factual paper. This does have all rest stops added, sometimes with a bonus of reviews and pictures. However, I could never get the app to find my location. This app is available to work offline, so you can still keep up with what is along your route.

Wi-fi finder – Android Free  | IOS Free

My SD loves to read and takes her Kindle with her everywhere. Well, with that vigor for reading, she finishes in a book in no time flat. Although my entire family loves a good paper book, we’ve found it much easier to pack light with mobile devices. Because of that, we need to make sure we can get a book for her when she finishes the previous one. Anymore, it has gotten easier to find free public hotspots for which to connect your mobile devices. With McDonalds being a prime contender of free WiFi, you know it is always a stop away. However, this app (and others like it) will help you find wi-fi without going out of your way or taking the children to fry heaven. An alternative to this, if you know how, you can simply make your own phone a WiFi hotspot, and specify devices that can attach to it.

How do you make your family travel time efficient? What do you use when you travel?