Family-Friendly Apps to Keep Kids Happy on the Road

Whether you’re an iPhone addict or an Android devotee, apps can be your best friend on the road or when getting ready for your next family jaunt. Here are some of the most helpful:

Bathroom Scout

Even the best of the potty-trained have accidents, but it’s easier to prevent them with Bathroom Scout, which lists more than 1.3 million restrooms worldwide (including public bathrooms, restaurants and other facilities). Turn-by-turn navigation makes it easy, and with street view, take a look around to see if it’s clean and safe for little ones to wee easily.


Those who’ve been stuck in an airport due to travel delays or a canceled connection know camping out on a cot isn’t much fun. But with kids — impossible. HotelTonight is a godsend for those looking for last-minute lodging, and it’s super easy to use. See locations on a map, read about on-site meals available and find bed configurations (amenities list crib and pet-friendly, for instance). Hotels compete for a spot on the app and only the best value and experience make the cut for sometimes hundreds off.


The surest way to prevent cranky kiddos is making sure they’re well fed. And while it may be easy to grab a snack on the street, sometimes Mom and Dad need real silverware, too. With OpenTable, search a vast network of restaurants categorized under kid-friendly, healthy, quick bite and more, all listed by price point, proximity and open table times. Plus, earn points that can be redeemed anywhere when accrued at eateries around the globe.


This new app puts a spin on the Disney FastPass+ idea for universal admission and it’s available in eight languages. Just chose a preferred time to visit locations like Notre Dame towers and you get automatic entry without waiting in line. Reservations are day-of only starting at 7:30 a.m. for same-day attraction visits.


Those planning their own trips know getting around once there is half the battle. Rome2Rio offers help comparing bus, train, car, ferry, bike options and more in one search in cities around the globe, and even works offline if WiFi is spotty (you have access to view previous searches).

Mother Daughter Reading Ipad

© Kdshutterman | Dreamstime

Not using your phone as a GPS? Then hand it (or your iPad) over to Junior to keep him busy in the backseat. Some of the age-specific winners include the “Reading Rainbow” series for the iPad and Kindle, about 600 books appropriate for ages 1–4 kids can listen to or read themselves (yes, LeVar Burton makes an appearance as a guide and in in-app videos). Kids ages 5–8 will enjoy “Toca Life: Vacation,” with customizable characters, where every day is a holiday adventure. Building a sand castle, rushing through the airport to catch a flight or jumping on a hotel bed are all in store.

White Noise

Noise from the next room getting you down? Don’t have time to sing a lullaby? Want to set an alternate alarm time? White Noise can do it all. Create your own sound or download sounds, or simply transport yourself from the jungle to the beach to the campfire with its crackling flames to set the right tone for your little one’s — or your own — sweet dreams.


Packing is stressful in and of itself, but packing for a family? Brutal! Save time with Packr, which compiles lists based on destination cities, countries or regions, along with travel dates and your planned activities to keep all bags 50 pounds or less (or, 20 kilograms if you’re headed across the pond).