15 online resources for planning your family holiday trip
11/13/2013 10:35:42 AM MST
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Traveling to see family over the holidays? It's never as simple as just hopping in the car or getting on a plane, especially if you're traveling with kids. Maybe you have two sets of grandparents to split your time with. Or you're coordinating activities with siblings and have feeding and nap schedules to juggle. Who's to blame you if you end up creating a spreadsheet just to keep track of it all?
But you don't have to resort to that. Here are 15 online tools and apps that can help you get a handle on family travel so you can minimize holiday stress.
A number of websites can help guide you through the planning process, allowing you to collaborate with your traveling companions — your spouse, older kids, siblings, or friends.
- Start a vacation plan on Triporama, which starts you with a list of tasks that you can assign to the other users you've invited. You and your co-planners can message each other, take polls to make decisions, create a printable itinerary of daily events, and get reminders. You can bookmark your travel research, and the itinerary includes a very helpful map so you can see at a glance your realistic your plans are. (Really, you're criss-crossing town five times on Monday?)
- Trooptrip does pretty much the same thing as Triporama, just in slightly different ways.
App planners offer fewer bells and whistles, but with a more streamlined approach.
Need help organizing what to bring? You can compile lists with the above planning tools, but a few apps get you started packing with a list of items — in case there's something you haven't thought of.
- Packing Pro (iOS; $2.99) Build customizable packing lists from a menu or items you add, then edit, sort and share.
- Stow ( iOS; $1.99) Create packing lists from pre-populated templates, which can do things like take destination weather into account, then share them via email.
- Packing List (Android; free) Create packing lists from scratch or from previous lists, then share them.
- uPackingList (iOS, Android; free) Create packing lists from a catalog of items, then share them via email.
Now that you know where you're going, how, and when, there are a few last details to sort out. For example, what can you bring through security?
- Check out My TSA (iOS, Android; free), which not only tells you what you can bring, but also gives you updates on how long the lines are.
- Many airlines have apps that let you track flights and give you updates on delays, but there's also GateGuru (iOS, Android, Windows Phone; free), which gives you real-time updates on security wait times, flight delays, gate changes, and layover times.
If you're traveling by car, you'll find yourself with a different set of problems, some of which can be answered with apps.
- MomMaps (iOS, Android; free) helps you find kid-friendly spots like parks, playgrounds, and fun restaurants along your way. Read parent reviews for these spots to get the inside scoop.
- Does someone need a pit stop? USA Rest Stop Locator (Android; free) and Rest Area Finder (iOS; Free) will locate the nearest spot where you can take care of business.
- Charmin's Sit or Squat (iOS, Android; free) goes a step further, letting you know which public restrooms are open or closed.
And now you're ready! Plan that family vacation with your relatives. Keep everyone in the loop. Get a handle on your packing. And know where the bathrooms are. Staying in the moment is up to you.