Smartphone apps already help you get around your hometown, find restaurants, and entertain yourself during downtime, while your kids likely already have their own favorites. So why not rely on them to help you and your offspring during the most harried time of the year? Winter holiday travel doesn’t need to be insufferable, even when lugging a few tiny humans and a trunk-load of stuff across the country in a blizzard.
On National App Day (admittedly not recognized by Congress as a federal holiday but a day of note if you ask any tech-enabled, modern citizen), it’s worth considering the most useful new apps available now, especially the ones designed to help parents. Download the necessary apps now and avoid scrambling in the coming holiday weeks.
Here are the best apps for traveling parents this holiday season.
Recommended by pretty much anyone who has ever travelled through a packed airport terminal on December 23, Flight Aware compiles information about flight delays, gate changes, and other airport antics, so you can dip and dodge any travel kerfuffles. For those receiving passengers from afar, it will also help you coordinate an airport pick-up so you’re not waiting needlessly in traffic.
If you’ve ever arrived at your holiday destination only to discover your son wearing only one shoe and your daughter forgot her allergy medication, you need a packing assistant. The PackPoint app helps prepare your family before you leave, no matter the destination, suggesting packing items based on the type of trip, the weather, the length of the trip, available laundry facilities and other factors.
Flight cancellations are a horrible holiday tradition right up there with Christmas music on repeat at every store and tangled string lights. Don’t fall victim to this easily avoidable calamity by loading up Freebird. Up to two days ahead of your flight, you can pay a nominal $19 to ensure your whole family gets to grandma’s house by the evening. If your flight is affected by weather or overbooking, the app will automatically rebook you on the next available flight, even upgrading you to first class if necessary.
Your no-screens policy may apply to the other 11 months of the year, but when your kids are wailing for devices two hours into a six-hour flight, the Netflix app is a lifesaver. Load it up with plenty of their favorite shows to account for fly-fi outages and you’re all set for a quiet, peaceful trip.
There are few more dire emergencies on the road than not having a sanitary place to change a diaper. Keep your baby happy and dry during the cold, wet season with KIDzOUT, an app that crowdsources information from fellow parents about convenient diaper-changing facilities, playgrounds, and family friendly restaurants.
PeaPod Labs Educational Apps
If mindless cartoons aren’t your idea of quality distraction, download a few of the many learning apps from PeaPod, giving young kids something beneficial to do with their downtime en route to holiday destinations. Apps include lessons about letters and numbers, as well as animals, music, and even some holiday themed material.
PeaPod Labs Apps
A new environment can wreak havoc on a baby’s sleep schedule, but a white noise machine can go a long way toward easing a kid to sleep. Instead of lugging around a separate white noise machine, just deploy the Sound Sleeper app whenever your child gets fussy.
Road trips are an opportunity to appreciate the great outdoors, the beautiful American countryside, the romance of a journey home -- if the kids would just chill out for a few seconds. Placate bored young ones with the RADIO.COM app, which features a dedicated Christmas station, podcasts, a Rewind feature that allows you to stream selected shows from the past 24 hours, and compatibility with turn-by-turn directions app Waze.