13 Fun Apps for a Summer Road Trip with the Kids

Parker Barry

Planning a road trip with the kids this summer? You’ll want to load their tablet up with the good stuff. Our app picks aren’t just engaging for kids, but will also help them make connections between what’s happening on the screen and their real life.

Getting There

  • Sago Mini Road Trip: Much like your real road trip, kids choose a destination for Jinja the cat’s road trip, help her pack her suitcase, choose her car, load up her car and hit the road. Along the way she’ll stop for gas and carwashes.
    • Tip: Play this one with preschoolers before your trip to help them prepare for the steps you’ll take for your own trip.
  • Google Earth: No matter where you’re headed, chances are, you can find it on Google Earth. Choose a landmark in your destination city and view 3-D satellite images of it and the surrounding area.
    • Tip: This is a good one to explore with younger kids before your trip — locate your starting point and destination, and see what’s in between. Older kids can use it independently while traveling.
  • Rush Hour: Of course you don’t want to get stuck in traffic on your road trip, but if you’re traveling with tweens, this traffic jam will be a great puzzler for them during long stretches of highway.
    • Tip: Play the real-life Rush Hour board game during a family game night before playing the app on your road trip. Ask kids which one they prefer, and why.

Town and City

Is a new town or city your destination? Kids can experience town, city and beach life all along the way.

  • LifeVacation_1.0_Locations_700x700_beachToca Life Series: Town, City and Vacation:
    Just like your destination, Toca Life: Town and Toca Life: City have parks, restaurants, stores, shopping and more of the attractions you’ll see in the town or city. So, you’re not headed to just any old town — you’re headed for a beach town? Toca Life: Vacation has it all: a hotel, sightseeing and, of course, a beach.

    • Tip: Let kids know in advance the kinds of places you’ll expect to visit at your destination. They’ll be able to explore those locations in the apps, and then make connections from their imaginative play to their real-life experiences.
  • Hoopa City: For your road trip to the city, why not let kids build their very own city on the way? In this creative world, kids can combine materials to build (brick plus heart equals a school, for example).
    • Tip: Discovering the combinations to make buildings and other structures in the app is fun! Imaginative kids might enjoy coming up with their own combinations for how they’d create structures they spot on your road trip. Anything goes!

Outdoor Adventures

So, your road trip is leading you to an outdoor adventure like camping or the beach? Kids can get a taste of the magic of nature before they ever get out of the car. And once they’re there, apps can enhance their outdoor adventures.

  • Toca Nature: Nature-Wallpaper-iPadYour kids won’t be feeding wild animals on your outdoor adventure (we hope!) but they can do not only that, but also plant trees to grow a forest, raise a mountain to enjoy the view, and more with this app.
    • Tip: Kids playing Toca Nature will hear many of the real sounds of nature. Once you make it to your outdoor destination, see which real-life sounds kids can match to what they heard on the app. On the way home, see which app sounds kids remember from real life.
  • Plum’s Photo Hunt: Kids get missions to find and photograph things in nature: clouds, plants, patterns, bugs and more.
    • Tip: For safety’s sake, this is one for parents and kids to do together. Parents can keep a close eye on kids (no wandering off on your outdoor adventure!) and also help them if they want to upload their photos to the Plum Landing website.
  • Star Walk Kids: One of the coolest parts of an outdoor adventure is the amazing views kids can get of the night sky. Star Walk Kids helps kids gain a better understanding of what they’re gazing at in awe.
    • Tip: Kids can point the app toward the sky, and the built-in gyroscope matches the on-screen map to stars. If the cartoon-style interface feels young for your kids, or you want a more in-depth experience, check out the developer’s other Star Walk apps.

Memories & More

Kids can express their creativity as well as chronicle their road-trip adventures through photos, videos and drawings.

  • Sago Mini Doodlecast: In this drawing and storytelling app, kids can use prompts or start from scratch. As kids draw, the app not only records their drawing as it’s created — but also audio via the mic. Kids can then play back and later share their short videos.
    • Tip: You can encourage kids to draw and record about the adventures on your road trip, but even if their drawings aren’t specifically about your trip, the resulting videos will become part of the treasured memories you’re creating.
  • Typic Kids – Fun Photo Editor: This app is simply lots of fun for your budding shutterbug. Kids get stickers, fonts, frames and themes to customize the photos they snap on your road-trip adventure.
    • Tip: This app can be fun for siblings to use collaboratively. They also might like to take turns embellishing copies of the same photo to see each kid’s own creative take on it!
  • Book Creator: Kids can create their own books on the road trip itself, but this app is especially great for creating scrapbooks of the entire adventure once you’re back at home.
    • Tip: It probably goes without saying, but encourage kids to take lots of photos on their trip so they’ll have what they need to populate their digital scrapbook.

What are your must-have apps for road trips with the kids?


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