Packing your phone with apps is popular-the average iPhone is loaded up with 40 apps, while the average Android phone has 25. Games and weather categories are most commonly downloaded, with maps and navigation close behind-all categories handy for a family trip.
There are thousands of apps that offer travel planning tools, maps and retail guides. For just a few dollars-or in some cases for free-you can save your family time, money and an emergency pit stop during the family vacation with an app.
How do you choose? Start here when you're planning your summer travels this year:
For less than the cost of buying a new bathing suit for your toddler in the hotel gift shop, you can remember to pack your little swimmer's trunks with the Pack & Go Deluxe app ($2.99, iPhone). Android users can try Packing List (Free, Android).
When you hear that little voice holler "I gotta go!" SitOrSquat is the app that can save the afternoon. Using the phone's GPS, this handy program will help you find the closest public restroom and provide feedback on cleanliness (Free, iPhone or Blackberry).
Slug Bug, Rock, Paper, Scissors and Scavenger Hunt are great games for any trip and available with the Travel Games Ultimate Edition (99 cents, iPhone). Marathon Travel Games offers up two favorites-the License Plate Game and Car Bingo and St8Pl8 helps kids keep track of the state licenses plates they see along the way (Free, Android).
Need help navigating? Mom Maps can help you find kid-friendly destinations on the go (Free, iPhone). Heading to Disney World? Try WDW Maps Boxed Set, which provides information and maps to the park ($2.99, iPhone or Android). Just need general area maps and info? Try iTravel (Free, Android) or Where To Go? (Free, iPhone).
When blood sugar starts to plummet, find a restaurant nearby fast with UrbanSpoon (Free, iPhone, Blackberry or Android). And if you're looking for cheap eats for the kiddos, try the Kids Meal Deals app, which will give a list of nearby restaurants that offer discounts on children's meals (Free, iPhone or Blackberry).
Planning a 'staycation'
Check out the UltraChicago, a family-friendly Chicago travel app, featuring maps and insider tips for kid-friendly fun in your own backyard (Free, iPhone).
A final app tip: User ratings and reviews often trump the developer's description of how useful an app really is in the field or on the freeway. Before you buy, read reviews at AppBrain.com, AppAdvice.com and The Daily App Show (dailyappshow.com).
Sharon Cindrich is a mother of two tech-savvy kids from Virginia Beach. Learn more at sharoncindrich.com.
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