The kids are out of school for the summer, and the only thing that rivals their restlessness is your own anxiety about planning a family getaway. Hitting the road with the whole crew isn’t easy—or cheap.
Luckily, there are loads of low-cost or free travel apps that make everything from enduring airport delays to finding the best kid-friendly attractions on your next trip a breeze. Here are seven of our favorites—including one that helps you locate the nearest public restroom, so you'll never have to spring for a cup of coffee you don't want again.
Search nearby for family-friendly activities, from free events to worth-it attractions. Use Yuggler to nail down what to do each day, based on the weather or the type of entertainment your kids want and need, and scroll through reviews written by parents who’ve been there. So instead of paying $20 apiece for entrance to the big museum, you can locate just-as-fun spots with zero admission, saving a family of four a whopping $80.
(99 cents, iOS/Android)
Sit or Squat
Sponsored by Charmin, this app uses your phone's built-in location finder to pinpoint the closest public restrooms. Perhaps more important, Sit or Squat provides user-generated cleanliness scores. You'll never have to spring for an unnecessary cup of coffee just so the kids can use the facilities.
Feel like you should send a note to Grandma and Grandpa but don’t want to pay for a cheesy postcard and deal with getting it in the mail? Postagram turns your iPhone or Instagram snaps into postcards. Upload your image, type in a quick message, and place your order. The app prints your postcard and mails it to any address in the U.S. for arrival within a week—all for only $1 (though you still need to buy the stamp).
My Disney Experience
The official Walt Disney World app’s interactive map, which uses your device’s GPS, helps you find restaurants, restrooms, and attractions nearby. You can also access real-time wait times for popular rides and a current schedule of parades and character appearances, meaning you’re making the most of your time. My Disney Experience doesn’t net you a discount—but the savings in mom and dad’s sanity is priceless. (An unaffiliated app called MouseWait lets you in on similar information for Disney Land.)
Find free internet near your current location in an instant. Wi-Fi Finder works offline too. Before you head out, download the offline database to your device, so you won’t waste data while searching for a hotspot—key during an international trip. You'll save as much as $15 off the hotel Wi-Fi cost.
Making long layovers and annoying delays just a tad more bearable, Gate Guru locates amenities within airport terminals, so you know just how far of a walk it is to the play area or the family restroom. The app also features discounts at airport shops and even last-minute car rentals. A recent search showed reserving a car through the app (which then books straight through the rental company) can save you around $7 to $10 a day.
Book restaurant reservations through the app (or the website), and you’ll earn "points" for each meal. The average reservation will get you about 100 points—worth a buck—but some spots offer 1,000—that's $10 the a seating). Cash out, and OpenTable sends you a gift card to apply to a future tab. Filter by cuisine, price, and distance to find a spot the whole family can agree on—then scan reviews to gauge kid-friendliness, noise level, and more.