Tag Archives: road trips

Road Trip Apps for Younger Kids

By Tracey Dowdy

My friend Theresa’s son was home for a full 30 minutes after school let out for the summer before announcing he was bored. That has to be a record.

Finding ways to keep your kids entertained during the long summer months becomes even more of a challenge if you’re headed out on a road trip. Whether your trip takes you through charming small towns along the New England coastline or across the plains with beautiful skies and wide open spaces, your kids will get a better understanding of the world outside their window.

Using screens to keep your kids entertained should never take away from the opportunity to have a conversation, sing along to the radio or play classic road trip games like 20 Questions and the license plate game, but we all know at a certain point kids are “done” and a little quiet time with a movie or a game can go a long way toward making the trip more enjoyable for everyone. These apps can help.

First Focus: Ladybird Baby Touch

Experts debate how much – if any – screen time is appropriate for babies; though speaking from personal experience, if those experts had to drive overnight through northern Maine with a screaming baby in the backseat, I’m confident their opinions would change! First Focus: Ladybird Baby Touch is based on the Baby Touch First Focus book and offers the same bold yellow, black and white illustrations of patterns and shapes, animals, sea and vehicles with a musical score and sound effects activated by tapping the screen. It’s simple and engaging, and designed to entertain and soothe your baby.

Platform: iOS, Android
Price: $2.99

Sago Mini Road Trip

“Sago Sago is a team of designers and developers who create apps that children love and parents trust” and the reasons why are clear with their Mini Road Trip app. Jinga the cat prepares for a road trip and kids get to choose who goes with her and what to do along the way to their destination, like stop and wash the car or get gas. Mile markers count down from 10 until they reach their destination, meet their friends, and take a vacation picture together. There’s lots of silliness built in as kids can choose what kind of vehicle to drive, whether it’s an actual car or a bathtub, pickle or shoe.

Platform: iOS, Android, Windows Phone
Price: $2.99

Yo Gabba Gabba! Music is Awesome!

You may want to plug in your kids headphones for this one, but what kid doesn’t love Yo Gabba Gabba? Kids can choose from 5 musical activities to sing along, paint, dress up the characters, play with the band or create their own music.

Platform: iOS, Android
Price: $1.99

Dr. Panda’s Toy Cars

With Dr. Panda’s Toy Cars, kids can choose from fifteen different vehicles to drive through three cities and explore. Users can honk their horn, use a siren, let down the barriers at a railroad crossing, and discover hidden surprises along the way.  Play is limited only by your child’s imagination and adventures are open ended so kids can play as long as they like.

Platform: iOS, Android
Price: $2.99

Toca Mini

Toca Mini lets kids create their own silly monsters, funny animals or other imaginary friends using colors, stamps and touchscreen controls. Kids can let their creativity run wild as they choose from a multitude of colors, stamps, backgrounds, and even animated eyes, mouths, noses and eyebrows. There are no rules, no levels to complete and best of all for parents, no in-app purchases and no third party ads.

Platform: iOS, Android
Price: $2.99

Wherever your summer road trip leads, have fun. Enjoy one another, enjoy the road, and make some memories.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Road Trip Apps to Keep Younger Kids Entertained

By Tracey Dowdy

There seems to come a point in most road trips where half the passengers are bored and the other half have had enough. I think we both know that splits pretty much down the parent/kid divide. To keep that from happening, here are a few suggestions to keep everyone happy and entertained during your Holiday road trip.


Wheels on the Bus

wheels-on-the-busThe Wheels on the Bus app is an interactive version of the classic children’s song. Kids can use the touch screen to make the bus move, open the doors, swish the wipers and other fun movements. The song plays in five languages and you can even record your little one singing along.

Recommended ages: 3+
Price: iOS, Android –  $1.99

Road Trip Bingo

road-trip-bingoSure you can play without an app, but Road Trip Bingo makes it even more fun! Keep an eye out for hundreds of items from license plates to animals and check them off on your bingo card. The HD version allows for two players.

Recommended ages: 4+
Price: iOS, Android – $1.99

Family Travel Games for Kids

fun travel gamesFamily Travel Games for Kids (iOS) and Fun Family Car & Travel Games! (Android) offer loads of family games, including many the driver can play. The apps are a great option for kids who get car sick, as many of the games don’t involve reading or looking at a screen for extended periods of time. Sort by age, type of game like word games or quizzes, and even classics like “Name That Tune”.

Recommended ages: 4+
Price: iOS – $1.49; Android – $0.99


Rory’s Story Cubes

rorys-storyRory’s Story Cubes is the app version of a dice game designed to promote imagination and creativity in your kids. Simply shake the device to “roll” nine six-sided dice. Each side of the device has a simple picture like a star, a letter or a bug which the child then uses to create a story. The possibilities are endless and limited only by your child’s imagination.

Recommended ages: 7+
Price: iOS – $1.49, Android – $1.99

Minecraft – Pocket Edition

minecraft-pocketMinecraft – Pocket Edition is the app version of the popular PC based game that places players in an open setting with no structures, objectives or other people. Players must create buildings from what they harvest around them to create their own environment. Play can be with or without monsters, so the focus can be on creativity and not survival.

Recommended ages: 8+
Price: iOS, Android, Kindle Fire – $6.99

Rush Hour

rush-hour-1While dad navigates through traffic upfront, the kids can do some back seat driving with Rush Hour. Players slide cars around a grid with an objective to get the red car out of the parking lot. For the best score complete the maze in the fewest number of moves and each level is successively more difficult. Players who get stuck can opt to get hints or watch the puzzle get solved.

Recommended ages: 8+
Price: iOS –  $2.99

Of course you don’t need an app to make the most of that time together. Play games that cross ages and interests like Would You Rather? or Twenty Questions. Another great option is to download a listening app like Audible and have the whole family listen to a book as you travel. Or you can create a Family Holiday Road Trip 2014 playlist on Spotify. To keep it interesting, let everyone contribute some of the music so you’re not stuck with two hours of the Wiggles or The Best of Tennessee Ernie Ford.

Your road trip doesn’t have to be an endurance test. It can be an opportunity to make some great family memories.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.