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Awesome Apps for Family Road Trips


In our upcoming movie The Watsons Go to Birmingham, the Watson family embarks on a road trip from Flint, Michigan to Birmingham, Alabama in the summer of 1963. Unsavory outhouses, unfriendly restaurants and unlistenable radio stations are just a few of the inconveniences they encounter along the way.


Of course, back then there was no such thing as a “travel app.” But if the Watsons were heading off on their road trip today, here’s a few apps we’d recommend (they might also come in handy for your own family travels!):

Trip Journal

This feature-rich digital diary enables users to document their travels on the fly, and to easily share their adventures across their favorite social platforms. Trip stats such as distance, time and geography traveled can be automatically logged using GPS positioning, while a map screen can display the travel route in real time. Photos, videos and notes taken along the way are attached to the corresponding point on the map, preserving memories while they’re still fresh. Google Earth integration allows friends and family to follow along on the journey in real-time. $2.99 for iPhone/Android.

Roadside America

Keep that travel journal interesting with detours to some of America’s most off-the-beaten path attractions. The Roadside America app provides the on-the-go user with a list of quirky destinations along their route—from lesser-known museums like the Pez Visitor Center in Orange, CT or the Museum of Alaska’s Drunken Forest in Glennallen, AK, to the statues of Muffler Men that stealthily dot the nation. The app also offers tools to help plan trips around unusual sights, and allows users to search by themes such as “Itty Bitty,” “Nostalgia” and “Zombie Army.” $2.99 for iPhone, plus in-app purchase options.



Families traveling with children can use Trekaroo to track down kid-friendly destinations such as parks, playgrounds and zoos, as well as restaurants and hotels where the youngsters will be welcomed. The app sources its information from user-generated reviews, providing parents with reliable advice straight from their brethren. Users are encouraged to contribute their own travel tips to keep the community’s information up to date. Free for iPhone.


Finding a kid-friendly restaurant might be easy enough, but how do you find the kid-friendly restaurant that serves the tastiest hot dog in town? Foodspotting is an app that uses crowd-sourced reviews to pinpoint the best spot for a specific dish near the user’s location. Whether you’re in Milwaukee and craving burgers or seeking blueberry pancakes in Dallas, Foodspotting can point you in the right direction. Free for iPhone/Android.



A truism of family travel is that it involves plenty of bathroom breaks. SitOrSquat aggregates user-generated reviews to map out the most sanitary options in the area, as well as the public restrooms that are best avoided. Free for iPhone/Android.


You’re on the road and the local radio stations aren’t cutting it? The IHeartRadio app enables users to stream more than 1,500 live radio stations throughout the country. Users can also create custom playlists by accessing the app’s library of more than 15 million songs. Free for iPhone/Android.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham premieres Sept. 20 on Hallmark Channel.