Must-Have Apps for Family Travel (And Your Sanity)

Traveling with kids is always an adventure. And anything longer than a trip to grandma’s need some strategic planning to keep kids entertained, civil, and – ideally – learning along the way. By Christine Elgersma 

In the mix of homework, books, music, and of course actually talking, apps can be super helpful when you’re trapped in a car or a plane. Whether you want to listen as a group, have the kids play together, or let them get their thinking caps on, check out these apps and our other travel lists to find what works best for your family.

 

All-Together Audio

Tales Untold, 4+. These short audio stories are in perfect bite-sized bits to get you from one rest stop to the next. With fiction and nonfiction, there’s something for everyone, including a magical adventure story, a mystery-based series, and a fact-based nonfiction series, among others. The first episode in each series is free, but you’ll have to pay for the rest.

Leela Kids – Best Audio Content for 3-15 Yr Olds, 7+. Instead of providing original content, this app curates the best podcasts and audio content for kids, so you don’t have to do the legwork. You can choose topics based on your kid’s age and the categories that interest them most, like Animals, Music, and Space. Leela Kids is free and the quality of the content varies. But you can always switch to something else without worrying about the price.

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Backseat Bonding

RelationShapes, 3+. RelationShapes (get it?) allows for more than one finger to match shapes and solve puzzles at the same time. So if you have two kids playing on the same device, they can practice playing cooperatively and help each other. Not only do kids match and construct shapes into pictures — a bit like Tangrams — they can make original creations as well. Parents can also set up multiple profiles if kids want to take turns playing instead of working together.

Heads Up!, 7+. This classic guessing game is still one of the best co-play apps around. The person who’s “it” holds the phone or tablet at forehead level with the mystery word facing out, and the other player gives hints. After each correct answer, the player tilts the device to get the next answer on the screen. Kids can easily play while seated, but it’s better for the car versus the plane or bus because it can get rambunctious.

 

Low-Key Learning

Busy Shapes & Colors, 2+. This great problem-solving app has kids sorting colours and shapes while solving simple puzzles (it can also be played offline). The difficulty increases as kids progress, which will help beat back boredom. If there’s an older sibling in a generous spirit, it’s also an opportunity for some gentle guidance and instruction.

codeSpark Academy, 5+. codeSpark introduces the basic concepts of logic and looping in a fun game, and it’s great for kids who aren’t reading yet. Parents can include up to three profiles, so siblings can all use the app on their own. It’s free to download, but if you subscribe, kids can get new content every month.

Weirdwood Manor, 8+. Half book and half game, Weirdwood Manor reads like a digital book but with lots of interactivity and puzzles to solve. And the atmosphere is mysterious and eerie without being too scary. Kids can try the first chapter to see if it’s a hit, then parents can purchase one chapter at a time or the whole collection at once.

 

For more travel tips and tricks, check these out…

Keep Your Little Beach Bums Safe
4 Ways Travel Can Boost Your Child’s Confidence
5 Pools You’ll Love As Much As Your Little Ones

 


Common Sense is an independent nonprofit organisation dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology.

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