By Katie Moosbrugger

I’m about to embark on my fourth eight-hour-door-to-door–no-hubby-support car trip with the kids this summer, and am already thinking about ways to make my life easier. Honestly, the trip is not difficult, and I am “that mom” who lets her children watch movies and play on my phone in exchange for a few hours of quiet sanity. Even so, a trip of that length in the car is never easy no matter the ages of your kids. There is always “something” that will pop up to make the trip a challenge. The same is true if you are flying this summer – or staying somewhere for an extended amount of time. Bouts of boredom and the inevitable inconvenience is sure to arise.

So moms, pull out your smart phones and tablets. I scoured the internet to find a list of apps (many are FREE) that will make your vacation travels much more enjoyable. I had no idea many of these apps existed! Whether you’re searching for suitable bathrooms on the road, stressing about airline connections, or seeking ideas to fill the days, you’re bound to find at least one solution in the list below. Happy travels!

Note: Please click the name of the app to learn more about the app’s compatibility with your smart phone or tablet. If you have experience with any of the apps listed – good or bad – please share in the comments below, as well as other apps we need to know about!

Car Rides

Gives you the quickest routes with the least amount of traffic. Tips you off to real-time traffic jams and police cars on your route (to avoid speeding tickets!). Voice-commanded turn-by-turn directions, plus search for your favorite places – or cheapest gas – all on this app.

Find the closest Redbox on your trip, and get driving directions! I have been known to let my kids swap out their Redbox movies mid-trip, so this app is perfect for us. Plus the app lets you reserve movies for later pickup, watch trailers, search movies by name, release date and genre, and lets you sign up for email reminders to return your movie!

Sit or Squat
Helps you find public restrooms near you, lets you know if they are open or closed, and also lets you rate the bathroom (and view others’ ratings) before and after you go!

Sunday Drive
Helps you find points of interest (history, art, architecture, etc.) along your route. Offers mobile coupons for discounts at participating businesses. You can submit your own favorite trips, and if your trip is added to their network, they’ll pay you $10!

Something I desperately need! Helps you remember where you parked your car, including level, section and spot in parking garages. Just tap to save your parking spot, and iCarPark navigates you back to it.

Never settle for fast food again just because you can’t find a better alternative. And stop driving miles to what you thought was the closest gas station. TripStop helps you find places of interest within minutes along your route. You simply tell the app where you want to go and when you want to stop, and it gives you directions.

Find Baby Changing Facilities
No matter where you are, this app will show you all the closest facilities to change change your baby in safety and private.

iBreastfeed 2
Find friendly locations for breastfeeding and pumping, plus add your favorite spots. The app also lets you get information on breastfeeding, storage guidelines, access to online resources, tips, and ways to track your baby’s breastfeeding activities.

Road Trip Scavenger Hunt
Just like the classic game we all remember, but only more fun. Your kids will search for a ton of things you would find on a road trip, including words on billboards and road signs. The game randomly selects items to search, and the first person to spot it earns a point.

Airline Travel

Flight Update
An award-winning app that brings you live flight status information. It’s easy to use and includes lots of fun features. Works on international flights, and even flights that are one year in advance.

Gate Guru
Similar to Flight Update, it provides real-time flight status, as well as push notifications, airport amenities, and other information customized to your itinerary. Also helpful with last minute rental cars with discounts exclusive to users of this app.

Helps you figure out – and remember – if an item is allowed in your carry-on or checked baggage. Gives requirements for IDs, liquids, and tips for getting through security quickly. Offers up-to-date and 24/7 access to any changes in details and procedures.


Before you throw away your old iOs device, turn it into a WiFi or cellular video surveillance system for your home! This app gives users a free Presence Video Alert movie to capture activity around your home, allowing you to detect motion within seconds. You can also monitor your lights and appliances remotely!

Mom Maps
Perfect for families looking for indoor fun on rainy days, or the closest playground to stretch antsy legs on long trips. This app shares lists of parks, playgrounds, plus restaurants, museums and indoor play areas nearest to where you are vacationing or driving. All listings come with reviews by other parents.

Doctor Finder
Identifies the nearest MD by specialty based on your location. Gives you the doctor’s exact address, distance from where you are, and the ability to call them directly via one tap. Also lets you quickly locate the nearest hospital, Urgent Care, and pharmacy.

Packing Pro
Never forget anything again! Perfect for busy moms – and parents who travel for business. Type in your location, and it shares the weather so you can plan ahead. Supports multiple trips and iCloud so you can synch your lists. Customizable with a huge catalogue of sample lists and expert assistance.

Find the safest routes to exercise and/or take the kids for a walk, jog or even bike ride. Includes more than 2 million routes and marks the distances for you (including how far you need to go to get to the start of the route). Great for walkers, runners, and bikers who want to get outside but are unfamiliar with the area.

TripAdvisor Offline City Guides
No matter where you go, you can access guides to any city – as well as its restaurants, attractions, hotels and reviews – all with no data roaming charges! This app does not require a live data connection (stores data on your phone) which means you can use it on the go and it’s super fast. Includes thousands of user reviews, options to create trip journals, and self-guided tours with city facts.

What other travel apps can you add to my list?