Our Privacy/Cookie Policy contains detailed information about the types of cookies & related technology on our site, and some ways to opt out. By using the site, you agree to the uses of cookies and other technology as outlined in our Policy, and to our Terms of Use.


5 Free Apps to Help You Survive Summer Road Trips

Photograph by Getty Images

When our family set out last summer to road trip with our three young kids, I had two things in mind to make the trip possible/anything less than pure torture:

1. Snacks, snacks and more snacks


"Strict" as I may about screen time at home (ha), when it comes to vacationing, I'm all about the apps. Much like I used to try to entice my kids with fancy new coloring books for a trip to Grandma's house, I always try to put effort into loading a few snazzy new apps on to our phones or tablets before a long trip.

RELATED: 8 Myths About Stay-at-Home Moms

So if you're planning a road trip with your littles this summer, pack the licorice and download a few of these apps to make it bearable—I mean fun. Yes, that's it, fun.

1. Strawberry Shortcake Food Fair

My daughters, who are 7 and 5 years old, love "Strawberry Shortcake." And in the world of annoying girly shows, this is one redhead that I am more than OK with. This app mimics real-world cooking by allowing children to mix, stir and grill the fair's recipes—and some of the options, like the Very Berry Donuts, make me very hungry. Free on iTunes. Download here.

2. Goodnight Caillou

Best suited for younger kiddos (2-5), this app lets your little one help get Caillou ready for bed with teeth brushing, recordable wishing on a star and sheep counting. It would be nice if this app could also magically make your kids go to sleep at bedtime, am I right? Free on iTunes. Download here.

3. Hello Kitty Nail Salon

Of course my girls are obsessed with all the nail-painting apps out there. (And actually, for that matter, so is my son.) This version features a "freestyle" manicure option and also lets them upload pictures of their hand to do their own manicure. That's cool, not creepy, right? Free on iTunes. Download here.

4. BabyTV

This app platform is specifically designed to educate and entertain the under-4 crowd, which in my humble and extensive parental opinion, is pretty much the worst age for car rides because they have the attention span of a gnat. With BabyTV, you get access to a whole bunch of apps to keep the little ones entertained. Free for Apple and Android. Download here.

RELATED: 10 Easy Road-Trip Games

5. Thomas & Friends

Go Go Thomas! Let's get real—who doesn't love Thomas the Train? He's a train I know I can trust, however slightly annoying his slow cadence may be. This app pits Thomas and friends against each other in a death-defying dash to the finish line. Just kidding, they're just racing on a train track. Free for Apple and Android. Download here.

More from kids